Do you want to come along with me for the daily grocery shopping in Florence?
You’re probably thinking of the open-air markets, and we have those, but for the most part we do our regular shopping in our neighborhood. We have lots of small shops and a big grocery store.
Let’s be glad about the good weather because if it was cold and raining we would have to bundle up the kids in their coats and hats, and it’s hard to carry home the groceries when you have to manage two little kids on the sidewalk and a stroller and an umbrella as well. Carry the groceries home? Oh yes, we don’t have a car.
There are plenty of shops within just a few blocks of home: a cheese shop, a wine and chocolate shop, a butcher, a bakery, a pharmacy, a florist, and more shops for fruits and vegetables.
If you look through the window you’ll see the butcher hard at work.
We have to go do our shopping in the morning or the evening. Everything is closed during the afternoon and on Sundays. I like that.
If we go in the evening maybe we’ll see our neighbors. We can say “Buona sera.” and “Come sta?” Everyone here is so friendly and helpful. I savor that feeling of community and neighborhood here. One time when we passed a shop owner on the street, he stopped and talked to us, and he even gave Doug a side hug.
Alas, we can’t afford to buy everything at the small shops (especially with the exchange rate being $1.4 for 1 Euro), so now we’ll take the bus on a five-minute ride to the great big shiny grand grocery store called Coop. The Coop has everything.
You can use the metal shopping carts if you deposit a Euro coin. You’ll get your Euro back when you return the shopping cart instead of leaving it in the parking garage. Most people use the shopping baskets on wheels instead of the big carts. All over the store you hear the clickety clickety of the wheels on the tile as people pull the red baskets behind them.
Do you want to get some fruits and vegetables? They are very fresh. Don’t forget to put on the plastic gloves first.
Don’t step in front of the lady who rides around on the zamboni to keep the floors nice and clean.
And the gluten-free section? Oh yes, friends, it is as good as you’ve heard. Some people return from Italy with bottles of wine, I’ll be coming back with boxes of gluten-free cake mix, crackers, and wafer cookies.
When it’s time to buy your groceries, the check-out counter is lower than you expect because the cashiers get to sit. Isn’t that nice? You need to bag your own groceries, and you should probably be quick about it.
They have bags if you need them, but I prefer my stronger reusable bags. We wouldn’t want our bags to bust and the groceries to spill all over the bus!
I like using these Baggu bags. Each bag can hold a lot and the handles are a nice length. I remember when I bought them, thinking that they were kind of expensive and hoping they would be worth it. They have been nice to have. They fold up small and each bag weighs only two ounces, so it’s convenient to keep one in my purse all the time.
Tomorrow we get to go grocery shopping again! I bet I know what you’ll be thinking: “Didn’t we just go to the store yesterday? And every day before that?” Yes, yes, we did. But I’m sure there’s something we forgot, and it will just take a minute to run out to the store and get it.