How to Throw an Authentic Italian Garden Party


If there’s one thing you can say of Italians, it’s that they know how to live. Moreover, they know how to throw a good party. Italians are known for their al fresco dinner parties – festive gatherings, usually in the garden, that capitalize on the cool summer evening breezes.

Italian al fresco dinner parties are the perfect idea for this summer. Not only has it been historically hot in much of North America, but with indoor restrictions still easing across several cities, many guests may feel more comfortable celebrating outdoors.

In this post, let’s explore how to throw an authentic Italian garden party. To do so, you have to think like an Italian, which means considering the following: food, drinks and convivial conversation. Let’s take a closer look!

Hire the Right Caterer

Food is the cornerstone of an authentic Italian outdoor party. In the old country, it’s not uncommon to see several generations and several households come together for a marathon day of cooking ahead of a festive gathering.

Don’t have access to a village full of nonnas? No problem. Hire an experienced catering company that knows its way around a rustic Italian menu. Meatballs swimming in a rich tomato sauce, pillow-soft ricotta gnocchi, earthy rapini and fresh grilled fish with zesty capers – these are the flavours, textures and aromas that evoke Italy. To make things easier on yourself, look for caterers offering “heat and serve” buffet menus you can execute the day of the party.

Get to Know Your DOCs

With food covered, turn your attention to the next most important element: the wine. While any liquor store worth its salt stocks Italian wine, not all Italian wine is created the same. For an indication of quality, look for the “DOC” designation.

DOC means “Denominazione di Origine Controllata,” or “Controlled Designation of Origin.” It indicates that the wine comes exclusively from a specific winemaking region and is developed according to traditional practices. It’s the closest thing you can get to a stamp of authenticity. Types of DOC wine include Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Valpolicellas from Veneto.

“Frizzante o Naturale”

Here’s an easy way to add authenticity to your Italian garden party: Offer both sparkling and still water options – or “Frizzante e Naturale,” as the Italians say. At the Italian dinner table, water is never far from a glass of wine. After all, it’s essential to stay hydrated if you’re drinking alcohol in the heat.

Craft a Communal Dining Experience

Rather than set up multiple tables, which can disconnect diners from a central conversation, craft a communal dining experience with one long table. Here’s your opportunity to add design flair. Reinforce the idea of dining outdoors by decorating the long table with plants and flowers. Add natural texture with linen runners and wood serving platters. And hang string lights around the central table for ambient lighting.

Finally, once everyone’s well-fed, happy and conversationally stuffed, offer a digestivo (or digestive). These herbal liqueurs are punchy, zesty and explicitly designed to help diners digest a big meal – the perfect end to a perfect garden party. Buon Appetito!