Doing the Grocery Shopping in Italy

Not everyone who visits Italy is a foodie, but many of the people I talk to who are planning trips to Italy are hoping to eat well while there. They might not go as far as Naples to sample pizza or as far as Bologna to eat tortellini, but they’re still hoping to experience some of that world famous Italian cuisine.


Some of the people I’ve talked to have gone so far as to marvel aloud at how lucky people are to live, shop and eat in Italy. In fact, I’m one of those people. But it’s easy for those of us who only visit once in awhile (our wallets fat with holiday spending money) to wax poetic about the rustic outdoor markets we walk past and photograph, especially since we don’t have to worry about what things really cost.




This brief article mentions the rise two decades ago of what we’d consider a one-stop-shopping experience – the supermarket. There was a time when such a thing wasn’t found in Italy. Instead, you went to the butcher for your meat, to the bakery for your bread, to the greengrocer for your fruit and vegetables, etc. These vendors still exist in Italy, though in decreasing numbers. Shopping the “old fashioned way” takes more time and, even more importantly, more money than it takes to shop at the supermarket. Really, the biggest edge that the smaller specialty markets have over their big competitors has always been the same – quality.

The husband and I have probably over-romanticized the idea of doing the grocery shopping in Italy, and in practice I’m quite sure we’d make runs to the supermarket just as regularly as the native Italians do. I’m hoping that, should we get a chance to live in Italy, we do make an effort to frequent our small local shops. It is, after all, one of the things we have come to love about the country, so it would be foolish to get there and give it a slap in its proverbial face, wouldn’t it?

Photo by: John Thompson

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