On my first day in Italy, the other students on my program and I had to walk to the local grocery store, called the COOP, to get groceries to get us started. As soon as I entered the grocery store, I did not notice any immediate differences except the everything was written in Italian. As I made my way through the aisles, starting in the refrigerated food section, I started seeing how this was going to be a different shopping experience than in the United States.
The first thing I looked for was milk. Something simple and used for many things. I tried to look for the gallon jugs I see in America, but they were nowhere to be seen. In fact, nothing there was bigger than a gallon when it came to liquids. I knew that in Italian, latte means milk, so I found the small bottles that said latte, but no one told me what the other words on the bottle meant, so I just grabbed a bottle that had a cow on it.
The next thing I looked for in the refrigerator isle was eggs. After covering the entire aisle with no sign of eggs, I decided to skip them and just go to the next aisle. In that next aisle, I found what I was searching for: rows and rows of eggs. Not refrigerated. That was new to me, I never thought to not refrigerate eggs.
The store was not laid out in a logical way. The first aisle was refrigerated stuff, then the next was eggs, then candy, then an entire aisle for miscellaneous items, then coffee, drinks, and lastly chips. Nothing was where you expected it to be though. I scoured the entire store looking for peanut butter, expecting it to be near the Nutella since Italy has a huge love for Nutella, but I never was able to actually find it.
Once I got all the groceries that I was able to find, it was time to check out. The cashier did not speak any English, and the only information I had was from my professor who told me I had to buy a reusable bag to from under the counter to put everything in. I found the bags and put on the counter, and she began scanning all my groceries. For an entire cart full of mostly random things, it was less than 50 euros. I was surprised at how cheap everything was all together. I gave her my card to pay, and she asked for contactless, which was when I learned that most places in Italy expect you to have a tap to pay card, so she had to pull out a card reader to use my card. After paying and bagging all my groceries, I had to carry everything back to the villa I was staying at.