How to Grocery Shop in Italy

Campbosso, Italy the view from our apartment

Campbosso, Italy | the view from our apartment

We are in the town of Campobasso, Italy whose population is around 50,000 people. Campobasso is the capital of the Molise region and currently we are staying In the heart of the city. Today I am taking you where we shop on foot. There are separate shopping markets for the different items you might need located all over the city. There is a couple superstores in Campobasso where you can buy all your shopping needs at one place, as well. We love going to the small shops where you can buy more local, artisan, and quality products and I think most Italians do too.

Quasi Pronto da Diego, the produce market. Owner Diego & Stella

Quasi Pronto da Diego, the produce market. Owner Diego & Stella

Our first stop is a produce market on the street below our apartment called Quasi Pronto da Diego. The owner is the always smiling Diego. When you enter the store you tell him what you want and he picks and bags the freshest vegetables and fruit. It is like a full service produce stand! He is very helpful, nice and always throws in some extra parsley or lemon. The kids love him. He is such a friendly face to see every morning when we leave the apartment! GO! Diego GO!

It is amazing to us how affordable fruits and vegetables are in Italy. Everything is based on the Kilogram (roughly 2.2 pounds). Some example prices: multiple types of apples, pears, and plums for between 1,00 and 2,00 Euro per Kilo, Sicilian Blood Oranges for 0,99 Euro per Kilo, and Broccolini for 1,50 per Kilo. I don’t think that we could find Fuji Apples or Oranges for 50 cents per pound in the US!

Macelleria The butcher shop

Macelleria The butcher shop

Then there is the Macelleria, the butcher shop two blocks down the road from our apartment. He has an assortment of meats and poultry that changes every day. He makes his own salumi, sausage and prosciutto. We have tried his cured sausage and prosciutto, both are to die for! The meat is fresh, never frozen, air dried, cut to order with HUGE cleavers and never in sealed plastic packages. To show how fresh the meat is he will place the cow’s nose, or the chicken’s comb beside the animal. The meat or poultry is cut, weighed and wrapped in paper to take home.. The other day we bought a roast and he trimmed the fat, and trussed it with bacon and parsley for us. What a treat this is because back home if I want to make the same thing, you’d have to buy everything separate (roast, a whole package of bacon just to put some slices on the roast, and multiple herbs) and then take the time to do it yourself. It is refreshing to see a butcher that has so much knowledge and care for the his craft.

The Cow's Nose

The Cow’s Nose in the outside window. There are two more large meat cases inside the store as well.

I think the language barrier is hardest here with all the names of cuts and types of meat as well as the numbers involved in ordering it. When you order a chicken, you explain how you want it (do you want it whole, cut in half, quartered, in 1/8’s, trussed etc.). Same with beef, you don’t just order a ribeye that is sitting there in the case, you ask for the ribeye loin, usually bone in, and ask him to cut it to your specifications (how thick do you want it? bone in? larger cut for rib roast?). There are large cuts of meat that people specify scallopine (they thinly cut it in a slicer) or roasts or soup meats and on and on, everything is pretty much cut on the spot. We are learning and the butcher is very patient and helpful. One day we thought we were getting a beef steak, but instead we left with a pork chop! Oh well 🙂

LL Golsolone, general market, sweet owners Luigi & Joanna

LL Golsolone, general market, sweet owners Luigi & Joanna

Next we walk back towards our apartment to II Golosone (Panetteria, Salumeria, & Latteria) which translates to (bakery, delicatessen, and dairy), This is a small general market about 12 x 20, where you can buy cold items, dry goods, fresh baked bread, and meat and cheese. The owners are Luigi and Joanna, and they absolutely google over the children every time we go in. They are very helpful, and appreciate our business. They usually throw in a pie or something local for us to try. Today they gave the kids some coloring books and us a set of pretty coffee cups. It was so nice and so unexpected. I will make them a dessert before we leave!

La Cantina Enoteca the wine store

La Cantina Enoteca the wine store

Another gem we have found is the La Cantina Enoteca wine store. They sell local regional wines from all over Italy. The store has large stainless steal vats that are labeled with the type of grape, region, tasting notes, and alcohol percentage. The cool part is this- you bring an empty milk or water containers to fill up with wine. The cost is any where from 1,50 to 5,50 Euros per liter. What a great concept! Reusing your containers, creating less trash and drinking delicious local wine for cheap! You can’t go wrong with that!

Are they open? In America the stores are open early to late, every day of the week, rain or shine, and even most holidays. In Italy it is much different! The Italians take a rest in the middle of the day to go home, eat, and be with there families. The stores are open early and close around lunch time, and then open back up around 5ish and close around 9ish pm. They are closed every Sunday and every holiday… and might decide to close when it’s raining. All times are approximate and subject to change without notice. =) So you better know the times they are open and keep your fridge stocked!

All of these markets and shops are within 2 blocks of our apartment. They are all very small and quaint, and it is a personal experience to go shopping. We have been here for such a short time and already know most of the owners. Think of how well you would know your neighbors if you lived here for years! At the end of it all, shopping takes longer, has less convenient times, BUT is more personal, more physically active, less carbon footprint and we love it.

3 comments on “How to Grocery Shop in Italy
  1. Ahhh so wonderful, my kind of living! Have you ever read any of David Sedaris’s books? He tells hilarious stories about buying food and being unable to master the French masculine and nouns, so he just buys 2 of everything…..2 scoops of ice cream, 2 kilos of potatoes, 2 chickens….

  2. This is making my mouth water!! One memory I have of Italy is the lettuce. It tasted sooo good compared to ours in the states. I ordered insalata mista or verde at every meal! Yum! And when we visited a farmers market the lettuce was so fragrant, almost like fresh flowers. I miss Italy…sigh…:)

  3. Pingback: Packing Tips for Traveling Abroad with Children | the DiLoreti's | food, farms & family

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