The Amalfi Coast is famous for a reason. If you plan your trip right, you can take incredible hikes, visit small towns with coastal views, traverse to waterfalls, eat incredible food, and relax on the beach all in a single weekend. And regardless of how much you pack into a day, as each day turns to night, there’s aperitivo hour.

Aperitivo comes from the phrase for “to open” in Latin. It refers to both the type of drink and the act of going out for said drink, but the details of what is enjoyed during aperitivo is somewhat up to interpretation. However, a few things are required: An aperitivo is consumed before dinner (usually between 5:00 and 8:00 PM), the drinks are low in alcohol (usually bitter or herbaceous, and often bubbly), and the beverages come with a small snack like nuts or olives. It’s not to be confused with digestivo, which is taken after the meal.

As the founder and CEO of the aperitivo-friendly liqueur Italicus, Giuseppe Gallo knows the Amalfi Coast’s aperitivo hour well. Gallo was born and raised in the Amalfi Coast region and has spent his life working in the drinks industry as a bartender, brand ambassador, and now founder.

giuseppe gallo, founder and ceo of italicus

Photo: Italicus

Italicus is a rosolio, a type of Italian aperitivo named after ros solis, which is the sundew plant. The exact mixture of what goes inside a rosolio depends on who is making it, but for Italicus, the ingredients include bergamot, chamomile, lavender, and gentian, among others. All you need is to add a little citrus and some bubbles over ice, and you have the perfect aperitivo.

So grab your moped (or motorcycle), choose your picture-perfect Amalfi Coast Airbnb, and embrace aperitivo and all things la dolce vita with this starter guide. (Note that, until the end of September in 2022, all cars must follow an alternating license driving schedule to limit traffic.)

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

italicus summer cocktails

Photo: The Makers

Matador Network: Do you have any favorite small towns along the Amalfi Coast for fully embracing aperitivo?

Giuseppe Gallo: Both picturesque Positano and the vibrant Amalfi embrace quintessential Italian beauty with a colorful landscape. But my favorite is the small village of Furore with La Grotta dello Smeraldo (the Emerald Grotto), where my childhood memories are rooted. In these villages, you can experience the authentic Italian aperitivo from the small café bar to the hotel bars. The outstanding panorama elevates the aperitivo to the next level.

What are the three things people should do along the Amalfi coast on their first visit?

Take a boat from Maiori and travel to Positano, stopping by some of the “grotte” to immerse yourself in the magical surroundings of the coast. In Positano, get lost in the city and discover the town’s architecture, ceramics, and local produce.

Are there any common misconceptions people have about the aperitivo drinks along the Amalfi Coast?

Most people think that Limoncello (which is a type of Italian rosolio, originally called rosolio di limone) is made only from lemons coming from the Amalfi Coast. Today, it is still made partially with local lemons, but they are also sourced from other areas of the Campania region as well.

What flavors most evoke the Amalfi Coast to you?

Sea salt. The water is rich in salt, therefore any fish dishes are rich in natural salt as well.

Which aperitivo snacks are most typical of the Amalfi Coast?

Crostino with burrata cheese and anchovies; the ultimate Amalfi Coast cicchetto.

Do you have any favorite Amalfi Coast bars you suggest people go to for aperitivo?

Hotel Caruso in Ravello, the San Pietro in Positano, or the Terrazza Lounge at Hilton Sorrento.

The hiking trail Sentiero degli Dei (  Path of the Gods) along the Amalfi Coast  from Agerola to Nocelle, Province of Salerno,  Campania, Italy.

Photo: Nella/Shutterstock

What activities do people normally miss when they visit the Amalfi coast?

Sentiero Degli Dei from Agerola to Positano, which is an immersive trekking experience in nature.

Are there any hotels or places to stay that you would recommend for people looking to experience the Amalfi coast to the fullest?

If I were to mention a few, Caruso Hotel in Ravello and Le Sirenuse in Positano are the perfect places to experience the quintessential hospitality along the Amalfi Coast. They offer a sophisticated and relaxed atmosphere to enjoy every single moment of your time there while overlooking the Mediterranean sea and Capri.

What’s the best way for visitors to get around the Amalfi coast?

By bike and by boat are my personal choices — to cycle along the coast in the open air, and by boat to experience the landscape and magic of the area in full.