In Italy there are many shops, supermarkets and outdoor markets where you can buy the things you need. But the foods and other things for sale may seem strange to you. Learn about Italian shops and markets.
If you are confused by shopping in Italy, do not worry. It’s normal! You will get used to the new foods and other products you find in Italy. Here is some information to help you understand Italian shops and markets.
What are the different shops?
Some shops only have one type of thing for sale. For example, there are shops that sell only food. Other shops sell only home appliances (refrigerators, dishwashers, televisions) or clothes. Some shops sell things for specific people, like for women or children or for people from a certain country. You can read more about all these shops below.
There are also shops that sell a mix of things. They might be small shops in your neighborhood. Or they can be big shops called department stores, where you can also find clothes.
Supermarkets are big shops with lots of things on rows and rows of shelves. Some supermarkets are just for food and household items. In larger supermarkets, you can also find books, toys, appliances and clothes.
Outdoor markets in Italy are like markets in your country. Some markets are only open one or two days of the week. Other markets happen every day. People who have something to sell can rent a space and set up a stall. They sell fresh food, clothes, leather bags, jewellery, and many other things. You can go from one stall to another and buy from each seller separately.
In shops and supermarkets, the price is set and you cannot bargain for a lower price. The price you find on the tag or on the shelf is exactly what you have to pay. In markets, you can sometimes bargain because you are talking directly to the owner of the stall.
Shopping for food
Many people buy their food from supermarkets and markets. But there are also many shops that sell one kind of food. They may not be as cheap as the supermarket and market, but they may have special, traditional, or homemade foods.
- Grocery stores (alimentari) have many foods such as pasta, cheese, salami, cooked foods, canned foods, and bread.
- Butchers (macellaio) sell fresh meat of all kinds. In traditional butcher’s shops, you will not find halal meat. To find halal meat, you can search on the internet for a halal butcher near you, or ask people you know who eat halal meat
- Fishmongers (pescivendolo or pescheria) have a wide variety of fresh fish. Fish in season is cheaper than fish out of season. You can ask the fishmonger what type of fish is in season.
- Bakeries (forno) have many types of bread and other baked goods including pizza and cakes. In many bakeries you can also find milk, yogurt and bottled drinks.
- Greengrocers (Fruttivendolo) sell just fruit and vegetables. Produce that is in season will be cheaper than unseasonal produce, so ask the shop assistant which are in season.
- The Rosticceria sells cooked food ready to serve and eat. Many Italians buy food from a rosticceria when they do not have time to cook, or when they want to eat roasted meat or fried food without having to cook them.
- Ethnic food stores sell foods from a specific country or an area of the world. In Italy there are many shops that sell Chinese, Indian, or all Asian food products. They have spices, legumes, rice and other products that are not easy to find in Italian stores.
- Supermarkets sell all kinds of food together in one building. In many supermarkets you can get a loyalty card at the information desk. With the loyalty card, you will get discounts and special offers.
- In markets (mercato) the food is usually fresh and less expensive because it is local.
Shopping for medicines
- The pharmacy (farmacia) sells all kinds of medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter medicines. You can easily find pharmacies in Italy because they have a big green cross outside the store.
- A parafarmacia has no pharmacist to prepare prescription medicines. You can only buy over-the-counter medicines.
Shopping for body and beauty products
The cheapest places to buy body products (such as soap and shampoo) and beauty products (such as make-up and perfume) is in the supermarket. But there are also special shops called profumeria that sell all kinds of body and beauty products.
Shopping for clothes
There are so many clothing shops in Italy. You just need to find ones that have a style and price range that works for you!
- Second-hand clothing shops sell clothes that have already been owned by someone else. These are not very common in Italy, but you can find them. In second-hand clothing shops you can find good quality clothes at a good price.
- In larger supermarkets, there is usually a department for clothing. You will not find as much choice as in a store, but you can find things at a cheap price.
- Markets have many stalls selling clothes at very good prices.
Shopping for other things
- Bookshops sell books and some stationery items. You can also order and buy school books. In some bookshops you will find music CDs and DVDs.
- Newsstands (giornalaio) have newspapers, magazines, and some toys.
- Stationers (cartoleria) sell pens, notebooks, pencases and diaries for school or work. You can also print documents and make photocopies. Sometimes you can also order books for school in these stores.
- Tobacconists (tabaccheria) sell tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars and various tobaccos, but also sweets, chocolate bars, and chewing gum. You can buy bus and coach tickets, envelopes and stamps, and get more data and minutes for your mobile phone. To buy data and minutes, tell the cashier the name of your service provider and how much you want to spend.For most phones, it is 10 euros, 15 euros, 20 euros or more.
- Hardware stores (ferramenta) sell products such as screws, light bulbs, tools such as saws and hammers, electrical tools, and paint.
- Appliances stores (negozio di elettrodomestici) have refrigerators, washing machines, blenders, televisions, vacuum cleaners, and other household machines.
- Print shops (copisteria) are where you can print or copy a document, such as your CV or a letter. Print shops also make signs and posters.