If you have the opportunity to visit the beautiful and culturally rich country of Italy, you’ll want to bring home some amazing souvenirs to remember your trip. While Italy is famous for its luxury goods, the country is also known for its gastronomy, and what a better way to remember your trip that bringing home some amazing food items!
Italy has the most spectacular cuisine, including a wide range of cured meats and cheeses that you’ll want to share with family and friends, however, some foods can be tricky to bring back home due to customs restrictions. In this guide, you will find some amazing items that are also allowed to cross borders, focusing specifically on preserved and well-packaged items that can be found in supermarkets in Italy.
Top things from Italian Supermarkets
1. Dried Pasta
There is a general misconception that fresh pasta is somehow ‘better’ than dried pasta but dried pasta, especially from Italy, pastas place of origin, is just as good, if not better! Dried pasta’s firm texture means that it can hold the heartiest of sauces and doubles in size when cooking so that one pound can serve up to four people. When looking for dried pasta in the supermarkets in Italy, look for “De Cecco,” “Barilla,” or “Garofalo.”
2. Tomato Paste Tubes
Another ingredient readily available in supermarkets in Italy that will heighten your pasta eating experience is tomato paste tubes! Tomato pastes tubes are both convenient and efficient and they bring the real essence of ripe tomatoes. The best brands include “Amore” and “Napolina.”
3. Olive Oil
Olive Oil – the product that every chef, from amateur to executive, uses in their kitchen. Italy is the second largest producer of olive oil and the main distinctive feature of Italian olive oil is its biodiversity, as Italy is home to over 350 different olive varieties characterized by specific flavors and characteristics. Be sure to look for “Riviera Ligure DOP” from Liguria or Toscano IGP from Tuscany and olive oil that is sold in tandem with balsamic vinegar for the full experience.
INSIDR Tip: Did you know that Nice in the south of France is also famous for growing olives? Discover this beautiful southern French city with our Nice Map!
If you enjoy something sweet with your morning coffee or afternoon espresso, biscotti from supermarkets in Italy is the perfect souvenir for you! Twice-baked, crunchy, almond flavored biscuits, biscotti is great for dipping into a drink and Mulino Bianco biscotti is the closest you’ll get to having an Italian recipe from an Italian grandmother, without having to bake anything!
5. Preserved Truffles
Whether black or white, preserved truffles are a wonderful way to bring home the fantastic taste without having to commit consuming them immediately while they are still fresh. Preserved truffles serve as amazing additions to pasta, soups, and more. Always make sure to purchase preserved truffles from a professional and trustworthy merchant; excellent producers include Savini, Bianconi, Boscovivo or Tartuflanghe.
6. Truffle Oil
Another way to bring home the taste of truffles is with truffle oil. Easily found in supermarkets in Italy, truffle oil will heighten any of your dishes, including your popcorn or chips! When choosing truffle oil, always pick a product that has both high-quality olive oil and high-quality truffles for the best taste. If you are looking for a less expensive option, truffle salt is a relatively new concoction and a wonderful alternative.
7. Marvis Toothpaste
Although Marvis Toothpaste is not something you can consume, it is also a wonderful souvenir to bring home following a trip as it is common in other countries but much cheaper to buy in Italy. An apothecary styled toothpaste, this toothpaste keeps your breath fresh while removing surface stains from all the wine you may drink while in Italy! The unusual flavors, including ginger mint, and classic look of this product will make for a wonderful addition to your bathroom counter.
INSIDR Tip: You can actually also buy Marvis Toothpaste in France! For example, they’re available at Citypharma in Paris for a cheaper price compared to buying it anywhere else outside of Europe!
8. Instant Coffee
If you love chocolate and coffee, “Pocket Coffee” is what you need to find in a supermarket in Italy! Liquid espresso encased in a shell of dark chocolate, all you do is plop the individually wrapped chocolates into hot water and the chocolate and espresso melt into a wonderfully warm drink. For those who prefer a stronger Italian taste, Italian coffee brands Illy and Lavazza are the right choice as they are generally more expensive overseas.
Instead of wine, consider bringing home Limoncello, a popular digestif from the south of Italy that can be used for making cocktails but can also be added into desserts for a nice lemon flavor. While you can find many types of Limoncello in supermarkets in Italy, the best is Limoncello Di Capri 32 or Stock- Crema 500ml, which contains cream making it a perfect addition for desserts.
10. Baci Chocolates
Baci, which means “kiss” in Italian, is a chocolate shell with a gianduia hazelnut filling inside. This souvenir is perfect to give to someone you love, or to show a little love to yourself, as the chocolates have romantic quotes, written in a variety of languages, inside the packaging. These chocolates even come in variety packs with white chocolate, milk chocolate, or bitter chocolate, making it perfect for any chocolate lover out there.
Supermarket Shopping Tips
When shopping in Italy, it is important to remember these common practices as there are some differences when shopping in another country. Always remember to great the shopkeeper or worker by saying “Buon giorno“ (good day) or “Buona sera“ (good evening). In supermarkets in Italy, there is no staff to bag your groceries for you so be sure to take the initiative. Also, Italy banned plastic bags in 2011 so be sure to bring your own reusable bag as bags to cost 0.15€!
If you plan on doing lots of shopping and need a shopping cart, you will have to deposit 1€ at the rail, but don’t worry, you receive your deposit back when you return the cart! For payment, most large supermarkets in Italy accept credit cards but always have cash as a backup.
Best Time to go Shopping
Major supermarkets in Italy include Coop, Conad, and Carrefour, all of which are open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 8pm, which modified hours on Sunday. Similar to most supermarkets, these are the busiest around lunch time, between 12pm and 2pm, and after work, from 6pm to 7pm. If you are hoping to browse without too much interference, it is best to go in the morning or the early afternoon, especially if you are planning on using a shopping cart as aisles in supermarkets in Italy tend to be quite narrow.
Most Popular Italian Supermarkets
If you are visiting Rome, there is a Carrefour near both the Vatican and the Coliseum.
- Near Vatican City: Via Sebastiano Veniero, 10 A, 00192 Roma RM, Italy
- Near the Coliseum: Via dei Santi Quattro, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
If you are visiting Venice, you’ll find a variety of Coop supermarkets throughout the city.
- City Center: Campo S. Giacomo dell’Orio, 1491/A, 30135 Venezia VE, Italy
If you are visiting Florence, check out Conad near Piazza del Duomo.
- Near Piazza del Duomo: Via dei Servi, 56 R, 50122 Firenz
Happy traveling and I hope you enjoy your souvenirs from supermarkets in Italy!