Do Italians Drink Beer More Than Wine With Dinner?

Do Italians drink beer in a country that is predominantly thought of as a wine country? In the last decade Italians have been embracing beer more than ever.

Do Italians Drink Beer - Ichnusa

Beer Is Available All Over Italy

The Wine Belt of Europe

Europe has very diverse tastes in every way, and their drinking preferences are no exception. In southern Europe, the most popular drink is usually wine and the countries that make up this region are called the Wine Belt of Europe. The countries include Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, France and many others across southern Europe.

When you go further north to encounter the Beer Belt, which include England, Ireland, Germany, the Czech Republic and others that are around the same latitude. If you go even further north in Europe and further east you run into the Vodka Belt, which includes Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Ukraine and other countries that have a long tradition of producing and consuming vodka.

How Do Italians Drink Beer As A Part Of The Drinking Culture?

Even with its strong attachment to wine, beer drinking in Italy has been growing for more than a decade. It is viewed as the perfect pairing with pizza and it is a popular drink to take with you when you are walking around Rome. As it continues to grow in popularity, there are more industrial breweries and craft breweries available across the country.

Do Italians Drink Beer - Drinking Outdoors

Popular In Parks

The 5 Most Popular Italian Beers In Rome

This is not a scientifically prepared list, but it is the culmination of my experiences seeing what is available in grocery stores, restaurants and laying around on the sidewalks. There are considerably more bottled beers available in Italy, not to mention the craft brews that continue to gain in popularity.

1) Peroni

Peroni is the most popular beer producer in Italy, but it includes many variations. It was founded in 1846 in a small town, Vigevano, outside of Milan. This was before the unification and a very tumultuous time in Italy. Almost 20 years later, they opened a second brewery in Rome, near the Spanish Steps. From there, Peroni continued to grow into the huge international company it is today as part of the Asahi collection of breweries.

2) Peroni Nastro Azzurro

As you can guess from the name, Nastro Azzurro, is also produced from Peroni, but this is considered a stronger premium beer. The name is derived from the prize awarded in 1933 to the first Italian vessel capable of crossing the Atlantic Ocean the fastest. For some reason it claims to have American inspiration, but luckily only in its colors and design, not its beer.

3) Birra Moretti

In 1859, Luigi Moretti opened the Beer and Ice Factory in Udine, which is in the northeast corner of the country, back when Friuli was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today, Birra Moretti Original Recipe is the best-selling Lager in Italy. It exports to 40 countries and has an annual production of more than 50 million gallons of beer.

4) Ichnusa

More than a century ago, in 1912, the company acquired the Cagliari plant, in Sardegna, and relaunched the brewery and the Ichnusa brand. Their popular lager is light and golden, and there are other versions that are unfiltered, unpasteurized and even with lemon.

5) Tennent’s Super

This one is a little personal for me because many years ago we made a couple trips to Scotland, and I fell in love with Tennents beer. Imagine my excitement to see how popular it is here in Rome, and it is popular. However, what I hadn’t considered is that it is a different version in Italy. Specifically, Tennent’s Super is the only version widely available in Rome and it is extra malty, which I don’t like at all. I almost finished the 4-pack I bought, never to return. If you like malty beers, this is for you. It isn’t for me!

Do Italians Drink A Lot Of Alcohol?

The answer to this question is of course: Yes, however there is a ton of information in the details. Instead of the binge drinking that is more common in countries like the U.S. and U.K. in Italy the consumption of alcohol commonly revolves around food, and this includes beer as well.

Do Italians Drink Beer - For Bikers

Peroni – Popular On Bikes

Is There A Drinking Problem In Italy?

The drinking patterns of younger people have changed during the last 20 years, which appears to converge with a western alcohol consumption pattern. The young adult group, aged 18-24, was the population group most at risk of binge drinking. This behavior often occurs during social occasions, with increased consumption of beer and spirits in the evening and the weekends.

As mentioned, Italy does not have the same types of problems with alcohol as other countries, like the US and England, but there is one issue in Rome that I see repeated over and over. It is very common in the city, including in the historic center (centro storico) for people to sit on steps drinking beer in the evenings. This doesn’t typically result in a problem with public drunkenness, but what happens is these people leave bottles laying around on these granite steps when they are done drinking and inevitably they fall over and break. 

I haven’t seen this repeated in other Italian cities, but in Rome it is definitely an issue that impacts the quality of life in Rome and one that is easily addressed. Italy does not have a bottle deposit, which I’ve seen be effective at eliminating this issue in other countries.

Is Public Drunkenness Culturally Or Legally Allowed In Italy?

Drinking wine or beer in public is common here in Rome as Italy has no national laws against public drinking, although local municipalities can and do issue regulations that prohibit public drinking at certain locations of the municipality, or during specific times. Despite public drinking being generally legal, national law punishes public drunkenness.

Do Italians Drink Beer - Outdoors

Enjoy Tennent’s In Circus Maximus

What Is The Drinking Age In Italy?

Even though the legal Italian drinking age in Italy is 18 years old, it is not strictly enforced. Going out to dinner, we’ve been offered wine and digestivi for our son even back when he was 13 years old. If you went out to a restaurant and someone underage ordered a beer or wine, I doubt they would ever be asked for your identification.

Do You Want To Read More About The Drinking Culture In Italy?

If you enjoyed reading about “Do Italians Drink Beer?”, check out these other posts that might interest you if you want to learn more about how alcohol is integrated into everyday Italian life and how you can enjoy it during your next visit.

Do Italians Drink Beer - Historical Sites

Bottles Left In Historical Sites

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