HomeAway travel expert
The first week in March is a big one for Italian drinkers: the annual Settimana della Birra (“Beer Week”) sees breweries, bars, and bottle shops across the country run events for Italy's growing army of beer lovers.
But, wait: “Italy” and “beer”? I must mean Peroni, right?
In fact, the country now has over 600 artisan brewers, most of them small and a huge proportion less than five years old. There is a craft beer revolution in full swing. And whatever week of the year you visit, you'll find plenty to celebrate.
Donald Strachan's verdict on Italian craft beer
Styles. International styles are edging their way into Italian beer culture. Huge-hopped, high-alcohol IPAs are popular. But Italy has its own brewing traditions, too, many of which looked to Belgium for inspiration. Ambrata (amber) beer tends to be sweet-edged rather than bitter or with dominant hops. A Bionda (blonde) has similar richness, but often with a subtle citrus kick. Chiara (“clear”) is the local name for lager-style beers. Scura is dark beer; full-flavoured but not usually with porter- or stout-like burnt bitterness. Rye beer (segale) is another you might encounter. Almost all are slightly fizzy and served cold. Local products also find their way into Italy's beers: don't be surprised to find honey (miele) or chestnuts (castagne), as in Amiata's expressively titled Bastarda Doppia. (Yes, it means pretty much what you think it means.) All Italian artisan beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized.
Resources. With so many styles and creative breweries to explore, it is worth doing some homework. Micro Birrifici has a search function to help you find breweries and bars by region. The same functionality is built into their iOS app (69p from the App Store). Slow Food's Guida alle Birra d'Italia book is written in Italian, sure, but is easy to follow for a beerophile hunting reliable advice. Fermento Birra and Cronache di Birra are handy bookmarks for beer lovers who read Italian. The Beer in Italy YouTube channel is a recent development worth watching.
Top places to sample “la birra artigianale”
Capital of Beer: Rome
The capital of the country is also the capital of beer. It's here you'll find Italy's best craft beer bars, both in the centro storico and in areas away from the sights. Beer lovers will swoon when faced with the “beer wall” in Open Baladin. I lost count at 30 taps on my last visit, and didn't even look in the bottle fridges. The place is all chrome and chatter, and right in the centre, close to Campo de' Fiori. In Trastevere, pub Ma che siete venuti a fà (a.k.a. Macchè) specializes in brews from around Italy and Europe; their Facebook page publicizes special events. The edgier Pigneto district has Birra+, a grungy, laid-back bar with multiple taps and a big bottle fridge that keeps brews from Italy, Europe, and the USA nice and cold. Brewpub Birstrò recently opened around the corner. Expert local blog The Rome Digest keeps on top of the city's beer bars.
View holiday rentals in Rome
Buzzing Bars in Florence
Expats, students, and young locals keep Florence's bars buzzing almost all year—it's quieter in August, when many of the best places are closed. There are ten taps and countless bottles at Beer House Club, close to Santa Croce. There's more of an expat-student and backpacker vibe at Mostodolce: a traditional pub with their own beers on tap (brewed in nearby Prato), as well as happy-hour discounts and sports on several screens. Archea has the best selection south of the Arno.
View holiday homes in Florence
Local Brewers in Lucca
The city is small, and with a distinctly genteel air about it, but brewing has a long history in Lucca. One of the town's landmarks—the Palazzo Pfanner, with its baroque gardens—was inhabited by an immigrant Bavarian brewer in the 19th century. The best local brewers are north of the town, towards the foothills of the Apennines. La Petrognola brews with farro, a mountain grain, instead of barley. The range at Bruton includes English-inspired bitter Lilith. De Cervesia, in the centre, has a constantly rotating trio of taps plus a well-stocked bottle fridge – Italian beers only. They also do take-out at fair prices.
View holiday lets in Lucca
Italy's Best Brewers: Piacenza
Visit north-west Emilia-Romagna to pay homage to one of Italy's best craft brewers. Brewfist was established in 2010, and has a reputation for forthright, no-compromises brewing – it's Italy's Brewdog, perhaps. The best places to try it are at Terminal 1, the brewery's own bar in Codogno, a short drive or train journey north of Piacenza. Parole di Birra has the best selection in the centre of Piacenza. Also in Piacenza itself, Tuxedo Beer House has 30 taps with beers from Denmark, Germany, and more (even the UK, if you're missing the taste of home). It's a lively spot, where the action goes till late. The town itself is well worth a visit on its own. Once an important member of the Lombard League—a medieval military alliance—it is graced with fine Gothic architecture and one of Italy's best Romanesque cathedrals.
View lettings in Piacenza
Capital city beer: Open Baladin by Donald Strachan
Florence by eGuide Travel
Tuscan Holiday Homes
LA SCUOLA DI FURIO Holiday Home is a small holiday complex in a very quiet countryside (within the Parco delle Cerbaie) overlooking a green valley. You stay in a relaxing location and you can reach in less than 1 hour almost every tourist destinat...
In the countryside, in a small village in
6 km from the center of Lucca in Tuscany.
The villa of rustic Tuscan architecture of 1800
been completely restored respecting the style and taste in every detail.
Inside the elegance of the rooms and the a...
A bright and airy luxury apartment located in the heart of the historical center of Florence, in Via del Melarancio in the San Lorenzo neighborhood, 300 meters (less than a quarter of a mile) from the Santa Maria Novella central train station, and...
This estate, finely refurbished and harmoniously situated in the middle of nature, enjoys magnificent views of the surrounding olive groves and hills. Furnishings are a mixture of wooden antiques and modern pieces which together form a pleasurable...
This luxurious property, entirely refurbished in 2004, is set in very private and secure grounds while offering excellent views towards Pisa and spectacular sunsets. Much care has been taken to maintain the original features such as the typical wo...
Enjoying a hill-top panoramic location amidst centuries-old cypress and olive trees and very close to Florence, this typical Tuscan villa unites a relaxing setting with art and history.
On the ground floor of the property you will find a fully-equ...
Country of Bolgheri, Livorno, Tuscany, Italy. Immersed in a centuries-old olive grove 1.5 km from Bolgheri paved road and 6 km from the sea 2 apartments in a farmhouse built in an old farmhouse recently renovated, each approx. 50sqm, 1 bedroom apa...
Wellness BEAUTIFUL home located in the heart of Florence. E 'consists of two large open space: the first on the ground floor where the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom and the second with the recreation area which is ideal accommodation for two addit...
'Il Borgo del Sole” is immersed in the greed and enjoys of an incredible panoramic position. It’s a small old hamlet situated in a hill at 200 meters above the sea level. There is the natural oasis of Lago di Massaciuccoli at the feet of the hill,...
Old farmhouse of peasant origins, where on the ground floor you can still appreciate the old stables. Located 1,5 km away from the town of Castiglion Fiorentino which can also be reached on foot. Castiglion Fiorentino is one of the most renowned t...