Drinking ages are way different all over the world. Some countries are more restricted to alcohol, and others not really. But what is the real drinking age in Italy? I did some research to clarify all your doubts and worries about this topic.
There is not a legal age to drink alcohol in Italy. However, adults can’t sell and serve alcoholic beverages to minors under 16 years of age. Fines for providing alcohol to teenagers range from 250 to 25,000 euros.
There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the legal drinking age of Italy. So, I encourage you to keep reading if you want a trouble-free trip.
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Who Can Drink Alcohol in Italy?
You can drink alcohol at 16 years of age in Italy. In reality, you can do it even if you are younger. The law only sanctions the seller/adult and not the minor. If you drink under 16 years of age, you don’t commit any crime.
However, it doesn’t mean that minors are always able to drink. Some sellers won’t put their position at risk for serving a beer to you. So, you may not be able to buy alcohol if you are not 18 years old.
To better understand the legal drinking age in Italy, you have to learn these two key principles:
- Serving alcohol: The law 287/1991 defines it as “the sale for consumption on the spot.” This can happen in any area open to the public designed for the sale of alcohol. For example, a barista serves you a beer in a pub.
- Selling alcohol: It occurs when you buy an alcoholic beverage, but you don’t drink it on the spot. For example, you purchase a beer in a supermarket to take it later. Both are selling and serving alcohol to minors is a crime.
You see, the law doesn’t restrict minors from drinking alcohol. But adults are not allowed to give alcoholic drinks to them.
How Do Vendors Check Your Age?
According to the Supreme Court of Cassation, sellers must always check the age of their customers. They have to confirm it through a form of identification, and not just ask for your age.
In some cases, the vendor may “trust” you only for the way you look. For example, he may assume you are an adult if you have a long beard. But if you are 21 years old and look like a teen, you won’t be able to buy the drink unless you show your ID.
Are Vendors Strict?
How difficult is it to drink alcohol in Italy? Well, everyone has different experiences, but I will tell you what I have seen:
Despite all the regulations and laws, it is common to see minors drinking alcohol. This happens especially in small locals and vendor kiosks.
On the other hand, supermarkets and restaurants are very rigid when it comes to selling alcohol. They won’t sell you even a small glass of wine if you are under 18. The cashier will often ask you for a form of identification to prove your age.
And what about bars? They are not as strict as you may think. I never noticed anyone being asked for a form of ID, but it can happen. For this reason, you should always carry identification when going out in any place.
Can You Give Alcohol to Minors?
There is a lot of confusion when it comes to giving alcohol to minors. In reality, the laws are not very clear about what is correct and not. Some people don’t follow the rules because of this.
The law takes some factors to decide who can give alcohol to minors. It also depends on the way the event arises.
Can Parents Give Alcohol to Their Teens?
The answer is yes. Parents can give a little bit of alcohol to their teens without violating any rules. It is socially accepted to let teens taste some wine at restaurants. Sometimes they even have their own small glass.
The minor can drink with no problems if the parents are present and conscious. But this doesn’t mean you should allow it. There are still some restrictions that you must be aware of before doing it.
Let’s use an example to make it clear: A father wants to let his 15 years old taste a bit of wine at the restaurants. So, he takes from his glass and pours some wine into the teen’s one. Is it legal? Absolutely! There is no violation since it was an adult who served the wine.
But if you open the wine strictly for the minor, then you are actually violating the law. In this case, you would be serving an alcoholic drink. Put simply; you can’t order a bottle of wine or any other drink for the minor in particular.
When Can’t You Give Alcohol to Minors?
You can’t provide alcohol to a minor intentionally. Only adults can let the teenager “taste” the drink.
Nowadays, many teenagers corrupt their old friends to buy drinks. Even if the law prohibits that, it is normal to see it, especially in discos and disco bars. Parents are responsible for paying the fine.
Can You Buy Alcohol If You Aren’t 18?
If you are 18 or older, you will be able to buy alcohol anywhere you want in Italy. But always remember to carry your ID, even if you are and look older. There is nothing to worry about as soon as you drink responsibly.
Be careful when you purchase alcohol with a minor. The seller may ask you many questions to ensure that the teen won’t drink. You must clarify what you are going to do, or they won’t sell you anything.
Where Can You Buy Alcohol in Italy?
It is possible to obtain alcohol almost everywhere in Italy if you are 18 or older. The most common drinks that you can find are beer and wine. Some places are:
- Grocery stores: Clearly, grocery stores are the most strict with alcoholic beverages. They won’t sell you a single beer if you are not 18 or older. You will find many international beer brands and Italian wines.
- Bars and restaurants: They are not as strict as supermarkets, but still, you must have ID. Here you will find all types of beers, cocktails, wines, and more.
- Liquor stores: Liquor stores in Italy are very similar to bars, but they have many more drinks. Most of the time, you will need identification to buy anything. Here you could find vodkas, rum, gin, whiskey, bitter, etc.
- Vending machines: There are a few vending machines in Italy that sell alcohol. You must insert your ID to use these devices. They are open from 07:00 AM to 12:00 PM.
Consequences of Giving Alcohol to Minors
Selling alcoholic beverages is entirely banned in Italy. In fact, the law severely punishes people who give alcoholic drinks to minors.
You will be fined depending on the age of the minor. In other words, the law is more severe if you sell alcohol to a 14-year-old. But if the person is 17 years old, you will get charged less.
Risks of Selling Alcohol to Minors of Sixteen
In this case, the supplier faces up to one year in prison. This can happen in any public place such as cinemas, bars, etc. The same occurs with the owners of vendor machines who don’t use any age controlling system. Also, the activity will eventually get closed.
Risks of Selling Alcohol to Minors of Eighteen
This rage includes all teenagers between 16 to 18 years old. Here the seller will only get a monetary sanction. Fines start from 250 to 1000 euros. And if the penalty is serious, they can go up 25,000 euros.
If you will take a beer or anything else, remember that you must be 18 or older. As for minors, they can drink a little bit with their parents. You can’t intentionally give alcohol to minors in any situation.
No one will let you buy a beer or anything else if you are not 16-years-old or older. And if the vendor does, he will have legal issues and a fine to pay.
Parents can give a little bit of alcohol to their children. However, you cannot purchase drinks specifically for the minor.