To be completely honest, my body is still recovering from my Fall Break excursion to London and Amsterdam, where my lovely Ciro and I walked, no joke, 20 miles a day. For my regular readers: that bit about me being closer to the moon everyday is getting to be less funny as we move through the semester.

But because I’m starting to feel every bit of the 19 years I’ve spent on this ridiculous planet, I thought I’d take the week and relax the brain a bit. Thus, turning towards the fans of mine and giving them what they all really want! I know the comments have just been flooding in: “Molly, what are grocery stores like in Italy?”

And I’ll tell you guys, it might surprise you… they’re basically the same as Stop and Shop.

Okay. Article over. See you guys next week when I talk about my favorite cobblestones on the streets of Florence. Riveting!

Woah! Halt there, because there are some important differences to be made. They might look the same upon first glance, with that same weird eggshell colored lighting, and the slight chill from the frozen food section, but they’re really not. This can easily be seen in just taking a walk through one.

The entire ordeal makes you feel like you’re in a maze. You enter from one entrance and follow a single aisle path to the check-out. Hard to picture, but think about the Trader Joe’s layout where the possibilities of where to stop and end your experience are just endless.

When I was working at Fairfield this summer, sometimes I’d just go to Trader Joe’s during my lunch break and roam around freely until it was time to leave. Super fun, but super not possible in Italy.

Another thing that my future study abroaders might want to watch out for is the way Italians do produce buying. I think it’s a bit different in the market setting, but in my local Conad (American equivalent to Stop and Shop) it’s up to the shopper to weigh and print the sticker for produce.

Not to brag or anything, but I saw this on the “Interweb” before studying abroad, so I felt like such a local telling my roommates this on our first grocery stop. “Oh yeah, didn’t you know that you have to print your own stickers?”

It’s really a hot tip. If you don’t know it, I’ve been told they make you go back with someone and they show you how to do it correctly. Nothing like feeling like you fit in with the locals than a guide on weighing some fruit.

There’s also the whole “Italy actually cares about the environment” deal. As unlike the endless supplies of plastic bags American grocery stores seem to have, in Italy you pay for the plastic bag. It’s not a ridiculous amount of money, but I think it’s a deterrent for a lot of residents, as you see a lot more reusable bags around.

Not only that, but you get to just feel great about saving the environment just one bag at a time…and that’s basically all you get in Italy. One bag of groceries. You’ll never see a Florence resident loading their car with a cart filled with groceries in the city center.

Thus the regular Florentine Resident has perfected the quick and small grocery run. Me and my very American roommates on the other hand… not so much. Maybe by the end of the semester we’ll figure the whole thing out. But for now I’ll just tell myself, “It’s all for the cute calves,” as I lug six bags of groceries up 94 steps.

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