Written by Julia Silk,
21st June 2023

Food and culture are intertwined in Italy, and food shopping can be as enjoyable as a trip to the beach. Prices on many items have risen, especially on things that are transported from other places. However, if you shop around and buy local produce you are assured the best quality, flavours and freshness.

In Your Overseas Home’s Cost of Living Index 2022, Italy did well on a supermarket price comparison front. But with food prices rising everywhere this year, I wanted to see if that was still the case, and if it was cheaper to do my food shopping at the market. You can see the full results at the bottom of this page.

A fresh pasta stand in Rome, Italy

Street markets

For an authentic Italian cultural experience, you should visit a street market (mercati). The banter between stall holders and customers is lively and friendly. Which is something you don’t get from a supermarket self-serve machine.

The produce is mostly very local and fresh, and includes seasonal fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish, meat, farm made cheeses and bread. The stall I go to is run by a local family, and I see them picking and tending their vegetables, on my way into town.

The stall owners are always happy to suggest how best to cook the vegetables you’ve never tried before. You don’t need to be an expert chef to create a delicious meal in Italy. Recipes can be fairly simple, as the superb flavours are in the fresh produce. You may even have an Italian neighbour who is keen to share her cooking tips with you.

Can you see yourself cooking in this Italian kitchen?

Your own Italian kitchen

Most villages and towns have a street market at least once a week. Some of the bigger towns even have covered markets. When you have your own kitchen in Italy, you can thoroughly enjoy discovering the culinary treasures at these amazing markets.

This year, you could be cooking in this kitchen in Puglia, after visiting the Tuesday market in Carovigno. It is also less than 30 minutes drive from a large hypermarket at Mesagne. This 3 bedroom villa is currently for sale for just €193,000.

Find homes in Italy via our property portal.

Farm shops

If there are farms in your area, then it’s worth asking if they have a farm shop. It might not be a big fancy shop with a large selection of produce, but you will know it is local and fresh. Plus, you’ll be giving the money direct to the farmer and reducing your carbon footprint. For example, a dairy farm might just open a small room selling their own cheese and yoghurt, and the chicken farm, might only sell trays of eggs.

Read about being more sustainable in Italy today

We buy trays of eggs from a local farm. They charge €6 for a tray of 30 eggs. That works out at 20 cents an egg, compared to 29 cents at the Italian supermarket and 35 cents (30p) at a British supermarket.

Bigger farms might have a small shop in the nearest town or village. In addition, you will find family run fruit and vegetable shops, that sell a selection of produce. Don’t worry if you only know a little Italian. If you can ask “Quanto costa?” (How much does it cost?) and know your numbers, you can get by. If you don’t understand the price they say, just ask them to “Scrivi” (Write it down).

A local shop with a sign out front in Italy

Supermarket shopping

While trying to buy from small local traders when they can, Italians do also use supermarkets to stock up on regular items. For those who work, the supermarket is simply more convenient. Prices have risen on many items, so it pays to shop around and look out for special offers.

The supermarkets understand how the Italians like to shop and try and mirror that instore. Where space allows, they might have a deli counter with cheeses and cold meats, and instore bakery and butcher. Even in minimarkets, a deli counter is always the busiest part of the shop. People like that interaction and to select how their cheese or meat is cut.

Some supermarkets open from 9am until 9pm every day, while others might have a half day on Thursday and Sunday. Minimarkets tend to open earlier and close in the afternoons, reopening at about 4.30pm for a few hours. It’s best to look it up on the internet before you go.

When looking for a supermarket, ask for a “supermercato”, pronounced “soo-pehr-mehr-KAH-toe”. There are also small minimarkets in towns, and large out of town ipermarkets. Popular supermarket chains in Italy include: Auchan, Carrefour, Conad, Coop, Famila, and Eurospin.

Rising inflation is a worldwide concern at the moment

Prices in the supermarket

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that food inflation at the end of April 2023 in the UK was at 19%. It has been steadily rising over the past year. Bu comparison, the latest ISTAT data shows Italy’s food inflation rate at 11.8% at the end of May 2023. It has gradually been coming down since February. Unprocessed foods saw smaller price rises than processed.

Living in Italy I have noticed my food shopping costs rise. But there is always plenty of fresh produce on the shelves. The survey I did below shows online prices at Conad supermarket, which is one of the few that provide online shopping. I compared Conad’s prices with Sainsbury’s as it is a similar store in the UK.

However, Italy also has a supermarket similar to Lidl or Aldi called Eurospin. It doesn’t do branded items, therefore the cost of products are generally cheaper than in some other supermarkets. When buying basic items such as rice, pasta, milk etc. you can save more money going there.

Totting it up: Trolley food prices in Italy

To best represent the current food prices in Italy, I will share with you a recent shop of mine that came to a total of £47.22 at an Italian supermarket in June 2023. At Sainsburys in the UK it would have cost £11.36 more (£58.58). I included some very British items such as tea, milk, sliced bread, carrots and apples, which came out cheaper in the UK.

Likewise, popular food in Italy such as cheese, pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables came up generally cheaper in Italy. In fact, there were other fruits and vegetables I wanted to add to the list, but they weren’t available at Sainsburys when I did the research. The weekly market in my local town was cheaper still on some fruit, veg. and cheeses. Fruit juice, water, wine and beer also came out cheaper in Italy.

My weekly food shop: priced in


Product Street market in Italy (EUR) Street market in Italy 


Conad (EUR) Conad

(EUR to GBP*) 

Sainsburys UK


Chicken breast fillets 500g 4.95 £4.23 4.62 £3.95 £3.94
Tuna 4 x tins of 60g 4.43 £3.79 £4.53
Dry spaghetti 500g Barilla 1.00 £0.85 £1.40
UHT Milk 1 litre store brand 0.99 £0.85 £1.20
Box of Cheerios 370g 2.96 £2.53 £3.35
Sandwich loaf 1.20 £1.03 £1.00
Eggs 6 large store brand 1.20 £1.03 1.75 £1.50 £1.80
Carrots 1kg bag 1.30 £1.11 1.59 £1.36 £0.55
Button Mushrooms 500g 1.99 £1.70 £2.75
Aubergine 500g 1.39 £1.19 £1.41
New potatoes 1kg 2.07 £1.77 £2.95
Vine cherry tomatoes 500g 0.75 £ 0.64 2.19 £1.87 £4.00
Apples 1kg 1.50 £1.28 1.46 £1.25 £1.00
Bananas 500g 0.65 £0.56 0.99 £0.85 £1.00
Cheddar cheese slices 100g 1.70 £1.45 £1.31
Grana Padano 200g 2.38 £2.04 2.90 £2.48 £3.00
Parmigiano Reggiano 200g 3.30 £2.82 3.64 £3.11 £4.10
Bar of milk Chocolate, store brand 200g 1.99 £1.70 £1.30
Chocolate chip biscuits 200g 1.42 £1.21 £1.50
Store brand 25 tea bags 0.94 £0.80 £0.44
Nescafe instant 100g 4.54 £3.88 £3.00
Orange juice 1 litre 1.51 £1.29 £1.80
Beer Heineken 6 x 33cl 5.66 £4.84 £6.25
Red wine cheapest bottle 75cl 1.99 £1.70 £4.25
Still water 2 litres 0.32 £0.27 £0.75
Total 47.22 58.58

*exchange rate was correct at time of writing (smartcurrencyexchange.com). Check the current rate here, or sign up with Smart Currency Exchange for a free consultation. 

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