Are you planning a trip to Italy? Well, if you have teenagers in tow, you may be asking yourself “what is the legal drinking age in Italy?”
We have wondered the same thing! We have travelled to Sicily several times, with our teenagers, and just wanted to make sure that we knew what the rules were for when went out in public.
And considering the fact that Italy is known for its delicious wines and refreshing cocktails, before you take a sip, we think it’s important that you understand the laws surrounding alcohol consumption in this beautiful country.
🍷 What is the Legal Drinking Age in Italy?
The legal drinking age in Italy is 18 years old.
This means that if you’re under 18, you’re not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol in any public places, including bars, restaurants, and clubs.
However, it’s worth noting that in Italy, there is no legal minimum age for drinking alcohol at home.
🍷 Does Italy have an Alcohol Culture?
In some ways, yes. Italian culture has always placed a great emphasis on food and wine, with a deep connection between the two.
Winemaking has a rich history dating back to Roman times, and today, Italy is one of the world’s largest wine producers. In fact, wine production plays a significant role in the country’s economy.
As a result, it really isn’t surprising that many tourists come to Italy to visit wineries and indulge in food tours or wine tastings as part of their trip.
🍷 What is the Legal Drinking Age for Wine in Italy?
In Italy, the legal drinking age for wine is the same as for all other alcoholic beverages – 18 years old. This means that individuals under the age of 18 are not allowed to purchase or consume wine in public places, such as bars, restaurants, and clubs.
We do think that it’s worth mentioning that wine is a big part of Italian culture. In fact, it’s common for children and teenagers to have a small glass of wine (often diluted with soda to make a spritz) with their meals under the supervision of their parents.
However, this is usually done in moderation and within the context of a family meal. And, as we mentioned before, there is no legal minimum age for drinking alcohol at home.
🍷 Is the Legal Age for Drinking Alcohol in Italy the Same in All Cities?
Yes, the legal drinking age for alcohol is the same throughout Italy, regardless of the city or region.
In other words, the legal drinking age for Rome, Florence, Pisa, etc, is 18 years old. And this applies to all alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, and spirits.
It’s worth noting that while the legal drinking age is the same across the country, some cities or regions may have their own rules and regulations regarding alcohol consumption in public spaces, such as parks or public squares.
🍷 Drinking Customs in Italy
Italy is a country with a rich and diverse culture. And alcohol consumption often plays a central role in many of Italy’s customs and traditions. Here are a few examples:
- Aperitivo: Aperitivo is a pre-dinner ritual that involves having a drink and some light snacks, such as olives, cheese, and cured meats. It’s usually done with friends or colleagues and is a great way to unwind after work and socialize.
- Wine with meals: Wine is an integral part of Italian cuisine, and it’s common to have a glass of wine with lunch or dinner. In fact, many Italians believe that wine enhances the flavour of food and helps aid digestion.
- Digestivo: Similar to aperitivo, digestivo is a post-dinner ritual that involves having a drink, such as grappa or limoncello, to aid digestion and help you unwind after a meal.
- Espresso with alcohol: Espresso is a staple of Italian culture, and it’s common to add a shot of alcohol, such as grappa or amaretto, to your coffee for an extra kick.
- Toasting: When toasting in Italy, it’s customary to make eye contact with each person you’re toasting with and say “cin cin” or “salute.” It’s also important to clink glasses with everyone at the table.
These are just a few examples of the many drinking customs in Italy. I would like to mention that while alcohol is a big part of Italian culture, it’s actually considered to be in poor taste to over-indulge.
🍷 What are the Rules Regarding Drinking in Italy
In this section, we will not only talk about the legal drinking age in Italy, but also the rules concerning drinking in public, fines for overconsumption, and any exceptions to the rules.
Drinking Age in Italy
As we have mentioned, in Italy, the legal drinking age is 18 years old. This means that individuals under the age of 18 are not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol in public places, such as bars, restaurants, and clubs.
This law actually just changed in recent years, as Italy’s drinking age used to be 16. Of course, what hasn’t changed, is the fact that there is no legal minimum age for drinking alcohol at home.
Impaired Driving in Italy
Impaired driving is a serious offence in Italy, and the penalties can be severe. If a driver is caught driving under the influence of alcohol, they can face fines, license suspension or revocation, and even imprisonment.
The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers in Italy is 0.05%, which is lower than in many other countries. This means that even a small amount of alcohol can put drivers over the legal limit and subject them to penalties.
Unless you have been living under a rock, most people are aware that impaired driving can also have serious safety implications.
But especially if you are a tourist and are not familiar with driving in Italy’s many winding roads and mountainous regions can be challenging even for sober drivers. Adding alcohol to the mix is a disaster waiting to happen.
Can You Drink Alcohol in Public in Italy?
In Italy, drinking alcohol in public is generally allowed, but there are some restrictions and cultural norms to be aware of.
In general, it’s legal to consume alcohol in public spaces, such as parks and beaches, as long as it’s done responsibly and doesn’t cause a disturbance or public disorder.
However, some cities and regions may have their own rules and regulations when it comes to public alcohol consumption, so it’s always a good idea to check the local laws before drinking in public.
For example, in Rome, you are prohibited from drinking alcohol in glass containers after 10 pm in public places. This rule was put in place to protect landmarks and monuments from vandalism.
Are There Exceptions to the Alcohol Laws in Italy?
Yes, there are some exceptions to the alcohol laws in Italy. For example, minors under the age of 18 are allowed to consume alcohol at home.
Many locals will also tell you that unless minors are found drunk in public, or causing a drunken disturbance, the police don’t really enforce the rules. In fact, the local authorities will often report bad behaviour related to underage drinking to parents (whose punishment is often far worse)!
Additionally, the rules surrounding alcohol sales and consumption often do not apply when it is sold or served during large religious or cultural events like fairs, festivals, carnivals, or markets.
🍷 Purchasing or Selling Alcohol in Italy
In Italy, the sale and purchase of alcohol is legal and regulated. Alcohol can be purchased in grocery stores, specialty shops, vending machines, and in licensed establishments such as bars and restaurants.
What we as Canadians found pretty confusing (and to be honest, a little amusing), is that the cost of alcohol in a grocery store is often much lower than a bottle of water or bottle of Coca-Cola!
Buying Alcohol for Minors
Buying alcohol for minors is illegal in Italy and is punishable by law. Adults who purchase or provide alcohol to minors can face fines and even imprisonment.
Penalties for Selling Alcohol to Minors
In Italy, selling alcohol to minors is illegal. Individuals or establishments that sell alcohol to minors can face fines, license suspension or revocation, and even imprisonment.
The severity of the penalty may depend on a variety of factors, such as the amount and type of alcohol sold, the age of the minor, and whether the sale was intentional or accidental.
🍷 Access and Availability to Alcohol in Italy
Alcohol in Italy is relatively easy to find and purchase. As we mentioned, alcohol is sold in grocery stores, specialty shops, and licensed establishments such as bars and restaurants.
Do They ID You for Alcohol in Italy?
Although the drinking age in Italy is 18, most locals will tell you that it is not strictly enforced.
And while there is no legal requirement for individuals to carry identification at all times, it’s a good idea to have a valid form of ID, such as a passport or driver’s license, with you if you plan to purchase alcohol. This can help avoid any issues or delays at the point of sale.
It’s common for retailers and other alcohol vendors to ask for identification to verify the legal drinking age of the purchaser.
Of course, the level of ID checking may vary depending on the vendor and the location. In tourist areas or popular nightlife spots, for example, vendors may be particularly vigilant in checking IDs to prevent underage drinking and potential legal issues.
The Drinking Age in Italy if You are with Parents
In Italy, minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol in public places. However, there is an exception for minors who are accompanied by their parents or legal guardians.
If a minor is accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, they may be allowed to consume alcohol in licensed establishments such as bars and restaurants.
However, this is ultimately up to the discretion of the establishment and the individual serving the alcohol, and some may choose not to allow minors to consume alcohol regardless of parental accompaniment.
🍷 What is the Drinking Age in Italy for Tourists?
The legal drinking age in Italy is the same for tourists as it is for residents: 18 years old.
It’s important to note that while the legal drinking age in Italy is relatively low compared to other countries, it’s still illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase or consume alcohol in public places.
Tourists should also be aware that some cities or regions in Italy may have their own regulations or restrictions regarding alcohol consumption, such as limitations on public drinking or rules for alcohol sales in certain areas.
Drinking Age for US Citizens in Italy?
The legal drinking age in Italy is 18, and this applies to everyone regardless of nationality or citizenship.
This means that US citizens who are 18 years old or older can legally purchase and consume alcohol in Italy 3 years sooner than they can do so at home.
That being said, it’s important for US citizens to act responsibly and be respectful of local laws and customs while travelling in Italy.
🍷 Is the Drinking and Clubbing Age in Italy the Same?
In Italy, the legal drinking age and the legal age for entry to nightclubs and other entertainment venues may vary depending on the specific location and circumstances.
The legal drinking age in Italy is 18, and this applies to purchasing and consuming alcohol in licensed establishments such as bars and restaurants. However, some nightclubs and other entertainment venues may have their own policies regarding the entry age, and it’s not uncommon for them to set a minimum age of 21 or higher.
🍷 What Are the Most Popular Alcoholic Beverages in Italy?
Italy is home to many locally-made types of alcohol, including wines, beers and spirits. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- Wine – Italy is famous for its wine, with regions such as Tuscany, Piedmont, and Sicily producing some of the world’s most renowned wines.
- Grappa – This strong spirit is made from the pomace (skins, pulp, seeds, and stems) left over from winemaking, and is served as a shot.
- Beer – Beer is also popular in Italy, with local breweries producing a range of styles from light lagers to darker, more flavorful beers.
- Vermouth – Vermouth, a fortified wine infused with herbs and spices, is a popular aperitif in Italy and is often enjoyed with soda water and a slice of orange.
- Prosecco – This sparkling wine from the Veneto region has become increasingly popular in recent years and is often used in cocktails such as the Bellini.
- Amaro – Amaro is a bitter herbal liqueur that is often consumed as a digestif after a meal and is said to aid digestion.
- Limoncello – This sweet, lemon-flavoured liqueur is a popular after-dinner drink in Italy, and is often served chilled in small glasses.
Overall, Italy’s drinking culture emphasizes quality over quantity, with a focus on savouring and enjoying the flavours and aromas of each drink.
🍷 What are the Strongest Alcohols in Italy?
Italy has a rich tradition of producing high-quality, flavorful alcoholic beverages, some of which are quite strong. Here are some of the strongest alcohols you can find in Italy:
- Grappa – Basically Italian Moonshine, is a strong spirit made from the pomace (skins, pulp, seeds, and stems) left over from winemaking, and typically has an alcohol content of 35-60%.
- Amaro – Amaro is a bitter herbal liqueur that is often consumed as a digestif after a meal and can have an alcohol content of up to 40%.
- Limoncello – This sweet, lemon-flavoured liqueur is typically made with grain alcohol and can have an alcohol content of up to 40%.
- Sambuca – This anise-flavoured liqueur has an alcohol content of around 40-42%.
- Absinthe – While absinthe is not typically associated with Italy, it has been produced there since the late 18th century. Absinthe typically has an alcohol content of around 45-74%, depending on the brand and recipe.
What is the Legal Drinking Age in Italy? – FAQs
Yes, there are restrictions on purchasing or selling alcohol in Italy, including limits on the hours and days of operation for licensed establishments, and restrictions on the sale of alcohol to intoxicated persons.
Can underage individuals enter bars and restaurants in Italy?
Yes, underage individuals can enter bars and restaurants in Italy, but they are not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol.
Yes, it is legal to bring alcohol from other countries into Italy for personal consumption, but there may be limits on the amount and type of alcohol allowed.
No, it is not legal to drink alcohol on public transportation in Italy, including buses, trains, and trams.
Yes, there may be restrictions on alcohol sales during holidays or special events in Italy, such as a ban on the sale of alcohol during certain hours or in certain areas.
Yes, it is legal to buy alcohol online in Italy, but the seller must have a valid license to sell alcohol.
Yes, foreigners can purchase alcohol in Italy with their foreign ID or passport, as long as they are of legal drinking age.
So, now you know the answer to the question “What is the legal drinking age in Italy”? It’s 18.
Whether you’re heading to Italy for a short vacation, or staying for a longer visit, it’s important to understand how interwoven Italy’s rich culture is with food and alcohol.
And no matter if you decide to sip on a glass of Chianti or enjoy an Aperol Spritz, remember to drink responsibly and enjoy the rich cultural heritage and traditions of this beautiful country. Salute!
Pin This Post for Later!
- 17 Best Christmas Traditions in Italy: From Food to Festivities
- Can You Drink Tap Water in Rome?
- Can You Drink Tap Water in Venice?
- Can You Drink Tap Water in Italy?
- What is the Legal Drinking Age in Italy?
- Is Italy Shaped Like a Boot?
- 37 of the Best Souvenirs from Italy to Take Home