One of the greatest perks of living in Italy for many people is the retail therapy that you can enjoy when you go out shopping daily for your food essentials or even when you make a special trip to the centro commerciale (shopping mall) in the nearest large town. Shopping in Italy is not something to be endured, it really is an enjoyable pastime!
One thing Italians do well is manufacture quality goods – from fashion to food. And so if you enjoy shopping, moving to live in Italy could allow you to seriously indulge your passion! Alternatively, if you’re just headed for an Italian holiday you can cram in a few hours of quality browsing in the local markets for example.
In terms of shopping for your daily essentials, the main supermarket chain in Italy is Ipercoop – although you’ll likely come across others such as Conad, Standa and even France’s Auchan in Northern Italy. However, if you have the time, it’s far more fun to leave the supermarket and buy locally in specialist shops instead. Over time as you build up a friendly rapport with local shop keepers you’ll also find that your weekly shop costs less! Local food shops are called alimetari – here you’ll find home produced goods, seasonal foods and also that the majority of local food stuffs are relatively organically produced.
Most towns have a weekly local market too – the markets in the smaller towns are not especially exciting, but the larger towns usually have a really good array of stalls. Local producers come to town on market day and sell their wares and you can find fantastic quality, excellent prices and a good array of choice.
Remember that if you do shop locally most shops close for a few hours in the afternoon and one thing that expats who have moved to live in Italy comment on is the strange opening hours! Generally most shops open from about 8.30am and stay open until about 7.30pm with a three hour lunch break that begins at about 1pm.
If you’ve sussed out shopping in Italy for day-to-day essentials and are more interested in finding out where you can get your hands on some quality designer Italian fashion and leather goods you can of course head to Milan, Naples or even Arezzo – but why not bag a bargain by going to the outlet shops for the main labels. There are some excellent websites around that’ll let you know where to shop and when for the best bargains – try also going to the websites of your favourite Italian designer, many list where their retail and discount outlets are located.
Ultimately shopping in Italy is an experience to be enjoyed – you can find bargains galore in local markets, you can find fabulous produce in the local shops and over all, the cost of living in Italy is far reduced compared to the cost in the UK, so you’ll have fun spending your extra euros when indulging in Italian retail therapy.