Italians drink wine as an aperitif, with the meal and after the meal they finish off with a hair-raising distilled wine called grapa. Chianti is probably the best known Italian wine, but the quality varies, so look for the sign of the black cockerel on the label, and settle for reliable makes, like Frescobaldi, Melini and Ricasol. Other good red wines (rossi) are Barolo, Valpolicella, and a full-bodied wine from Scily called Corvo.
Connoisseurs say that Brunello de Montalcino is the best Italian red wine. Some of the best white wines are Orvieto, Frascati, and Soave and, if you like a sweet, light sparkling wine, Asti Spumante is very refreshing. Martini and Cinzano are famous Italian aperitifs, but for a change try Punt e Mes, or Campari. Strega is an interesting liqueur and Sambuca (tastes of licorice). In general, it is safer to order wine by the bottle or half-bottle rather than the carafe. Rome is ful of fascinating drinking places. Perhaps the best known is the Cafe de Paris, of La Doce Vita fame, on the famous via Veneto.
The Cafe Greco (via Condoti 86) was a favorite haunt of Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde and Buffalo Bill. Baretto, on the same street, is one of the places to be seen having your before-dinner drinks – if you can get in. Bar Zodiaco (viale Parco Bellini, 90), the lovely Monte Mario near Observatory, and the Bar Tre Scalini has a lovely terrace in one of Rome’s most beautiful squares, Piazza Navona. This is a great place for ice cream too.