Are you considering taking the whole family on vacation to Italy but wondering what the legal drinking age in Italy is? When we travel with guests under 18, parents are usually surprised that their older teenagers can have a beer, or a glass of wine with dinner. We put this article together for you so that you can understand what the rules are when it comes to having a glass of wine, or a beer in Italy.
First things first: It is illegal to sell alcohol to those under the age of 18.
However, like all things Italy, nothing is black and white.
The law doesn’t apply to those drinking – only to those who sell alcohol.
If you’re preparing for a trip to Italy, you’ll likely already have a good idea about the culture and cuisine. Italy’s wine culture goes back to Roman times. Along with France and Spain, Italy is one of the big-3 wine-producing countries. Also, Italy is one of the few places where wine is made in all 20 regions. Not to mention, wine-making and selling are huge contributors to the local economy.
Wine and cheese have always been center stage; as a result, they traditionally go together.
As a result, tourists often make drinking wine part of their itineraries. For example, those touring Tuscany will find many opportunities to visit wineries.
So, what exactly is Italy’s legal drinking age?
Let’s dive in and find out!
Italy Drinking Age
If you are taking your kids or grandkids on your trip to Italy, you might wonder if the older ones can drink wine, beer, or spirits.
As I said earlier, this country has very little black and white. You might infer the drinking age is 18, but, the law says nothing about drinking a glass of wine – i.e., at home.
No one will have an issue if you’re a parent and agree to allow your child or teenager to ask for a glass of wine or beer when dining with you at the restaurant.
Also, it should be noted that, unlike in North America, serving alcohol to minors is not a criminal offense in Italy. If the minor is older than 16, it’s an administrative infraction punishable with a fine.
The Legal Drinking Age In Italy With Parents
As mentioned previously, there is no legal drinking age in Italy. And unlike many places in North America, Italy doesn’t care where you drink. Inside, outside, wherever – it doesn’t matter. But there are some caveats to consider.
While you technically have to be 18 years of age to buy a drink, nothing in the law prevents you from drinking with your friends or parents. In Italy, we drink moderately, and as long as you do, no one will have any issues. It’s very (VERY) rare that you’ll find someone drunk in Italy.
The Legal Drinking Age In Italy For US Citizens
It’s no surprise that one of the reasons America loves Italy is that its wine culture is so much more relaxed than back home in the States. And that means you can buy a beer or bottle of wine for up to 3 years before you can in the States.
But, as I mentioned earlier – if you’re going to drink, do so responsibly. You’ll rarely find a drunk person in Italy – so don’t be that guy (or girl) becuase the local police will likely find out, and you’ll likely get in trouble. And spending a night in jail probably isn’t the best memory you’ll have in the land of the Dolce Vita!
Can You Publicly Drink Alcohol in Italy?
Italy has no rules that discuss where you can drink. Outside the Colosseum? No problem. By the Duomo in Florence? Ok! But the key is drinking responsibly.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Rome had some rules about public drinking. People were forbidden to drink publicly from glass containers after 6 p.m. Other than those few exceptions, drinking on the streets, in parks, or at the beach in Italy is perfectly legal.
So, please familiarize yourself with the local laws and respect them anytime you travel to a different city.
Are There Any Non-Alcoholic Alternatives in Italy?
If you’re not into drinking “Under The Tuscan Sun,” Italy has non-alcoholic alternatives that you can consume to your heart’s content!
Non-alcoholic options are perfect for those who don’t drink a lot but still like to take part in the “aperitivo” culture by ordering a cocktail, “analcholico” (or a no-alcohol drink as it’s known in Italy). Here are some of my favorite non-alcoholic alternatives:
The Peroni Libera is an Italian beer with 0% alcohol and is very popular with all ages. By ordering it, you can enjoy it at a soccer game, for an aperitivo, or even at the beach without making your head spin!
The beer is light and refreshing and pairs well with all the typical aperitivo snacks such as prosciutto, pizza, cheese, etc.
San Pellegrino is the local sparkling water that’s been around for over a century. Pair that with lemon or maybe a “crodino” and you’ll partake without anyone knowing it’s an alcohol-free drink. And it’s delicious!
Shakerato is a coffee cocktail that can trace its roots back to Italy. The shakerato is made with coffee (usually espresso) and ice cubes and served in a martini glass. I think it’s the perfect afternoon drink under the hot sun, perhaps after lunch.
The Bottom Line on Italy’s Drinking Age
Hopefully, after reading the article, you are familiar with Italy’s drinking age. Anyone who is 18 and above can enjoy alcohol in Italy.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and are now comfortable understanding Italy’s (relaxed) drinking rules.
It is all about “When In Rome,” right?