Grocery Shopping in Tuscany
Grocery stores in Italy carry beautiful produce and other products. It is truly a treat to shop there, much like shopping in a high-end gourmet grocer in the United States. While we were staying in the more rural region surrounding Florence, we encountered a few different types of stores.
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In each little hilltop town, no matter how small, there will be at least one tiny grocery store (negozio de alimentari). It will carry basic items including high quality meat and cheeses that the store clerk will slice for you, vegetables and bread. We found these stores to be pricier but more friendly than the bigger stores.
The grocery store most similar to a North American Super Market is the PAM. These work just like those in the U.S. except for the fruit and vegetable section. After you have chosen and bagged your fruits and vegetables proceed to a little weighing kiosk in that section. Weigh your bag of fruit then push the corresponding button on the screen that correlates with your item, as in apples to apples. There will be a picture of the item for those illiterate in Italian. Thank goodness! It does help however to brush up on a few basic food related words in Italian. A sticker or tag will print. Adhere this to your bag and you are ready to proceed through the check-out line.
Another type of grocery store we often encountered was the Co-op. First of all, before you enter you must fetch a cart by inserting a one euro coin into the cart handle which will allow it to release from a cart rack. When you return the cart you get your one euro back. Also the Co-ops charge for bags, so bring one with you or ask to pay for one before the checker is finished totaling your bill. And bag your own groceries.
Our family really got a kick out of figuring out these stores and looking at all the different items sold in them.
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