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Food Shopping for Vacation Renters in Italy

by Pat Byrne, Italy Perfect, September 2009

Rosticceria - Cooked foods (usually take-out)

Rosticceria - Cooked foods (usually take-out)

One of the best things about staying in a vacation rental in Italy is the chance to experience daily Italian life. Part of that experience is shopping for food and supplies.

Your vacation rental kitchen comes with the pots, pans and utensils that you need to prepare a meal, maybe even salt and pepper, but usually not much else (although some will leave a welcome basket with local products). For supplies, there will be a roll of toilet paper in each bathroom, some cleaning supplies, and a few garbage bags.

So, you will rather quickly have to make a trip to the local stores. You may want to pick up some essentials before you arrive, so when you get "home" you can kick off your shoes, pour the wine, and relax. If you are driving to your check in and see a COOP or Esselunga sign within an hour's drive of your rental, pull in, experience Italy's large grocery store chains, and pick up your basics. If your rental is near a good sized town, wait until you arrive and then head out to your local stores.

Remember that food stores may close for several hours in the afternoon, but then stay open until 7pm or later. And they may be closed on Sunday.

Small Food Stores

Mesticheria - Hardware

Mesticheria - Hardware

There are plenty of grocery stores in Italy, typically much smaller than you are used to. But, to get a true cultural experience, try to shop at the single purpose shops where you are often dealing directly with the proprietor who is usually a neighborhood resident as well as an expert on his or her items. If you are there when the store isn't jammed, you have a chance for a personal interaction and some special advice on your purchases.

Here are the types of small stores that you will encounter.

Food Shopping List

This shopping list is handy if your brain is jet lagged. Click for a printable version. Before you head out to the stores, check to see if any of these items have been provided in your vacation rental. 

Basics For Breakfast For Lunch/Dinner
[ ] Toilet paper [ ] Coffee [ ] Vegetables
[ ] Paper towels [ ] Tea [ ] Pasta
[ ] Dish soap [ ] Milk and/or cream [ ] Pasta sauce
[ ] Laundry soap * [ ] Sugar [ ] Parmesan cheese
[ ] Bottled water [ ] Bread [ ] Meat
[ ] Salt & pepper * [ ] Butter [ ] Fish
[ ] Spices (basil, oregano) * [ ] Jam and/or honey [ ] Olive oil
[ ] Wine [ ] Fruits [ ] Vinegar
[ ] Beer [ ] Yogurt [ ] Flour
  [ ] Breakfast cereal  

* Some travelers bring a few essentials with them to avoid having to buy them in a larger quantity than they need. For example, salt, pepper, spices, laundry powder (why buy a whole box when you can toss a ziploc with enough for a few weeks into your bag?). You can also bring a cloth napkin for each person (or buy them there) to cut down on use of paper towels and to make your dining elegant!

Quick Meals

Here are some of our favorite quick-fix items from Italian supermarkets.

Shopping Tips

Random tips to help you on your food shopping expeditions.


Open Air Markets


Book your Italian Vacation Rental with Italy Perfect

Italy Perfect specializes in personally selected, quality vacation rentals in Italy. We carefully screen potential properties and then if they fit our criteria for quality, we personally visit each property with our checklist of more than 50 items for inspection. We are rather particular and decline to represent many inspected properties. We understand that our client's well-earned vacations should not be blemished by accommodations that differ from what they were presented.

Our website listing for each property presents all the fine qualities of the properties, extensive photos, exhaustive details, availability, pricing, frank reviews (even mentioning issues that may be negatives for some guests), map location, distance calculations and historical weather for your schedule.

Our consultative selection process includes helpful advice and detailed information about traveling in Italy. We consistently earn praise from our guests not only for accommodations but also for our service. Visit our website to start your search for the perfect Italian vacation rental -

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