In general, Italians are not big cocktail drinkers. Order a martini and you are likely to get a glass of sweet vermouth ( brand name Martini and Rossi). They are fond of two types
of liquor: an apertivo ( before dinner) and a digestivo (after dinner). One of the most popular apertivo is from Milan. It is distilled from rhubarb and herbs and it is quite red, its name is Campari. By itself, Campari is fairly bitter, so it is customarily diluted with soda water, add a little sweet vermouth for balance and it becomes an Americano.
Legend has it that in 1919, a Count Cammillo Negroni went to the Bar Casoni ( now called the Caffe Giacosa) and ordered an Americano, but he was not satisfied, and wanted 'something' added to it. He had had a tough day and he needed a 'stiffer' drink. The bartender, Fosco Scarselli , thought for a moment and added a shot of English gin and in honor of the count, called the drink a Negroni. It was an instant hit. With time the soda water went away and it has become an Italian classic.
Felice Anno Nuovo!