Shopping: information on shops and markets
In order to find your way around a new country, it is important to know the name of the shops and where to look for the things you need. Certainly some shops will be similar to those in your country, while others will be a little different or really new to you. Here is some information on their names in Italy and the things you can buy in them.
In Italy you can find many types of shops. There are small or large shops, shops that sell many different things and shops that only sell one type of thing, like food or clothes. The type of shop also changes if you live in a big city or small town, in the mountains or by the sea.
What types of shops are there?
Some negozi (shops) only sell one type of item. For example, there are shops that sell only food, only home appliances (refrigerators, dishwashers, televisions) or clothes. In other shops you can find a mix of things, such as cleaning products, household items, clothing.
Supermercati (supermarkets) are large shops where you can find food, products for personal hygiene and house cleaning products and, in very large ones, also clothes, books, school items, home appliances and much more.
In every Italian city you can also find a mercato (open-air market). Mercati are made up of many banchi or bancarelle (stalls) selling different things. At the market you can find a bit of everything, from fruit and vegetables to clothes, household items and much more. Some markets take place only one or two days a week. Other markets are there every day.
In shops and supermarkets, the price is fixed and it is not possible to bargain to pay less. The price you find on the label or on the shelf is exactly what you have to pay. Even in open-air markets people generally do not bargain, but if the owner of the stall seems friendly and available, you can try.
Most people buy food in supermarkets and markets. However, food can also be bought in food-only shops. Prices can be higher in these shops, but the food quality is usually better. Here are some examples of food-only shops:
- Negozio di alimentari (grocery) has many foods such as pasta, cheese, salami, cooked foods, canned foods, and breads.
- Macelleria (butcher) sells all kinds of fresh meat. In traditional butchers, you will not find halal meat. To find halal meat, you can search the internet for a halal butcher near you or ask people you know who eat halal meat.
- Pescheria (fishmonger) have a wide variety of fresh fish. Fish in season is cheaper than fish out of season. You can ask the fishmonger what kind of fish is in season.
- Panificio, also called forno (bakery) has many types of bread and other baked goods including pizza and pastries. In many bakeries you can also find milk, yogurt and bottled drinks.
- In negozio di frutta e verdura (fruit and vegetable shop) you will find seasonal fruit and vegetables. These products will be cheaper than off-season products, so ask the vendor what product is in season.
- The rosticceria (rotisserie) sells cooked food ready to serve and eat. People buy rotisserie food when they don’t have time to cook, or when they want to eat roast meat or fried food without having to cook it. Pay attention to the prices because they will be higher than at the supermarket.
- Negozio etnico di alimentari (ethnic food shops) sells food from a specific country or area of the world, which is often hard to find in Italian shops or supermarkets. In Italy there are many shops that sell Chinese, Indian or, in general, Asian food products.
- The farmacia (pharmacy) sells all kinds of medicines, both prescription and nonprescription medicines (also called “over the counter” drugs). In pharmacies you can also find soaps, skin lotions and make-up. You can easily spot pharmacies in Italy because they have a large green cross outside the shop.
- Parafarmacia (parapharmacy) is like a pharmacy, but it does not sell prescription medicines. Here you can only buy over-the-counter medicines, soaps and makeup.
The cheapest place to buy body products (like soap and shampoo) and beauty products (like makeup and perfume) is the supermarket. But there are also shops called profumeria that sell these products.
Also pharmacies and parapharmacies sell soaps and make-up, but often very specific for those with particularly sensitive skin or allergies.
There are many clothes shops in Italy. You just need to find the ones with the right style and price range for you.
- In negozio di abbigliamento (clothes shops) you will find clothes for men, women or children. There are many clothes you can choose from. Some shops are very expensive, while others are more affordable.
- The negozio di abbigliamento di seconda mano (second-hand clothes shops) sells clothes previously owned by someone. They aren’t very common in Italy, but you can find some in big cities. In second-hand clothes shops you may find good quality clothes at a good price.
- In larger supermarkets, there is usually a department for clothing. You won’t find as much choice as in a shop, but you can find clothes at a cheap price.
- In open-air markets there are many stalls selling clothes at very good prices.
- The libreria (bookshop) sells books and some stationery. In many librerie you can also order and buy school books. In some of them you will find music CDs and DVDs.
- The edicole (or newsagents) sells newspapers, magazines and some toys.
- In cartoleria (stationery shops) you will find pens, notebooks, pencil cases and diaries for school or work. You can also print documents and make photocopies. In some cartoleria you can also order school books at these stores.
- Tabaccaio (tobacco shop) has products such as cigarettes, cigars and various types of tobacco, as well as sweets, chocolate bars and chewing gum. Here you can buy bus and pullman tickets, envelopes and stamps and buy top-ups for your mobile phone. To buy a mobile top-up, you must tell the cashier the name of your mobile operator, the amount you want to top up and your mobile phone number. For most operators, the top-up is 10 euros, 15 euros, 20 euros or more. In many tabaccherie you can also pay bills and fines.
- Ferramenta (hardware shops) sells things like screws, light bulbs, tools like saws and hammers, power tools, and paints.
- Negozio di elettrodomestici (appliance shop) sells refrigerators, washing machines, blenders, televisions, vacuum cleaners, and other household products.
- Copisteria is a shop where you can print or photocopy a document, such as your CV or a letter. In copisterie you can also print banners or posters.
- Internet points and money transfer are shops where you can find computers that you can use if you need the internet. In these shops it is also possible to print and make photocopies. Many also offer money transfer services, meaning that you can send and receive money to / from almost any country in the world.