Florence, Italy - About the City - Grocery Shopping

Mercato Centrale | Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio | Supermarkets | Specialty Stores

Eating out can be expensive, so in order to save money you may want to do your own grocery shopping and try your hand at recreating the dishes you have tasted in restaurants.

Study abroad students shop at the Mercato Centrale
Students shopping at the Mercato Centrale

Grocery shopping in your neighborhood is a good way to integrate into Italian daily life. In Italian neighborhoods, shopping is done daily in separate stores that often carry very specific items.

Food store hours vary from shopkeeper to shopkeeper. As a general rule, shops open daily at 8:30 A.M. and close during the lunch hours, approximately from 12:30 P.M. - 3:30 P.M., re-open in the afternoon until 7:30 P.M. Traditional food stores are open Monday - Saturday and closed Wednesday afternoon and Sunday.

Mercato Centrale

The Mercato Centrale (Central Market), located near the church of San Lorenzo, provides another interesting and traditional way to shop for food. The market consists of hundreds of individual stands. Downstairs, there are separate stands for meat, cheese, bread, chicken, canned goods, pasta, wine, and oil; upstairs are the stands for fruits and vegetables. The market, offering fresh items at reasonable prices, is alive with shoppers scurrying about searching for the best buys of the day.

The Mercato Centrale is open Monday - Saturday from 7:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M.. From September 15 - June 15, it also opens Saturday afternoon from 4:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.. It is closed Sundays and holidays.

Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio

Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio
Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio

Another excellent market with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, breads, and cheeses is the Mercato Sant'Ambrogio in Piazza Ghiberti. This market is smaller than the Mercato Centrale, and therefore a little less chaotic. The quality of the food is very high, and many of the vendors at this market are genuine farmers who bring their produce to the city to sell.

The Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio is open Monday - Saturday from 7:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M.. It is closed Sundays and holidays.

Supermarkets

If you prefer to do your shopping in larger stores, there are three different supermarket chains in Florence: Esselunga, Margherita Conad, and Standa. The larger supermarkets do not close for lunch. Among the usual things found in an American supermarket, they also have fresh breads, cheeses, pasta, and some prepared meals.

Esselunga
Via Pisana 130/132, (055 706 556). Bus 6, 12, 13.
Open Monday to Friday 8:00 A.M. - 9:00 P.M., Saturday 7:30 A.M. - 8:30 P.M. and selected Sundays
A wide variety of general groceries, housewares, personal hygiene products and newspapers.

Margherita Conad
Via L Alamanni 2/10r (Railway Station)
Open Monday - Tuesday, Thursday - Saturday 8:00 A.M. - 7:30 P.M.
Open Wednesday 8:00 A.M. - 1:00 P.M.
Small mini-market, it can be expensive but often convenient.

Study abroad students enjoy the convenience of Florence's supermarkets
Study abroad students enjoy the convenience of Florence's supermarkets

La Standa
Via Pietrapiana 42/44 (Santa Croce/Sant'Ambrogio)
Open Monday - Saturday 8:00 A.M. - 9:00 P.M.
Open Sunday 9:00 A.M. - 1:30 P.M. and 3:30 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.
Not as large as the Esselunga but carries a good variety of items that cater to foreigners who live in the downtown.

Tips for Grocery Shopping

The shopping cart:

  • You will need a €2 coin to use a shopping cart.
  • Insert the €2 coin into the slot located on the red lock to release the cart.
  • The €2 coin is refunded to you when you return the cart.

The produce section:

  • You must use the mandatory plastic gloves that are provided for handling the fruits and vegetables.
  • After you choose your produce, you are responsible for sealing the bag and then weighing it yourself.
  • Place the produce on the computerized scales (located in the produce section, not at the checkout) and press the button corresponding to the item you are weighing. The scale then prints a price sticker that you place on the bag for checkout.

The delicatessen and bakery section:

  • Take a number and wait your turn. A large digital display over the counter shows the number they are currently serving.

Checking out:

  • Place your items on the conveyor belt and use the cliente succesivo (the customer divider bar).
  • You must purchase your grocery bags from the cashier or bring your own bags or backpacks.
  • You are responsible for bagging your own groceries.
  • If you are doing big shopping you can ask the people at the courtesy desk to call you a taxi.
Students enjoy discovering Florence's abundant cuisines
Students enjoy discovering Florence's abundant culinary possibilities.

Specialty Stores

Vivimarket
Via del Giglio 20/22r (055 294 911)
Open Monday - Saturday 9:00 A.M. - 7:30 P.M.
American (peanut butter, cake mixes), Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Mexican, and North African specialties, including tofu and lemongrass. It stocks quality kitchen equipment as well.

Asia Masala
Piazza Santa Maria Novella 22r (055 281 800)
A wonderful source of foods and spices from Asia.

Sugar Blues
Via XXVII Aprile (Piazza Indipendenza) and Via dé Serragli 57r
Natural food products.


Shop Names and Their English Equivalents
English Italian English Italian
Alimentari Small grocery store Panificio Bakery
Birreria Wine/Liquor store Paninoteca Sandwich shop
Enoteca Wine/Liquor store Pasticceria Pastry shop
Erboristeria Herb shop Pescheria Fish shop
Forno - Fornaio Bread bakery Pizzicheria Delicatessen
Friggitoria Fried foods Polleria Poultry shop
Fruttivendolo Greengrocer Rosticceria Prepared foods and meals
Gelateria Ice cream shop Salumeria Delicatessen
Latteria Dairy products Tripperia Tripe shop
Macelleria Butcher

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