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American grocery items in Florence, italy

Does anyone know if there is a grocery store in Florence, Italy that sells American grocery items: sour cream, pancake mix, baking powder, vanilla extract, cranberry juice, etc.?

Posted by
174 posts

Here is in Firenze your best bet is the STANDA supermarket on piazza dalmazia 14 - its the biggest 'american style' grocery store.

If they don't have it I don't think anyone will. I shop at CONAD regularly, there a few located throughout the city.

Posted by
44 posts

Thank you for all of your helpful replies. To answer your question, Michael from Seattle, our family (from Portland, OR) is currently living in Fiesole (on the hill above Florence). We are having a grand adventure. FYI, we have been living here for quite some time and have been unable to find many of the items I listed even at supermarkets. I speak Italian, but so far have been unable to locate these items.

Posted by
44 posts

Thank you for all of your helpful replies. To answer your question, Michael from Seattle, our family (from Portland, OR) is currently living in Fiesole (on the hill above Florence). We are having a grand adventure. FYI, we have been living here for quite some time and have been unable to find many of the items I listed even at supermarkets. I speak Italian, but so far have been unable to locate these items.

Posted by
1589 posts

Dear Lizanne,

I just emailed a friend who lives in Pistoia, 15 miles from Florence. He goes to Florence several times a week and may know a source. I'll get in touch with you with regarding any information received from him. This should be within a few hours.

Posted by
22892 posts

This is an interesting question. Why would you think that sour cream, baking powder, etc. are American grocery items? First, all of the items will be available BUT they will be packaged different, will not have English names or labels so be sure to know the Italian names. Second, they might and probably will taste a little different but that should be expected. Afterall you will be in Italy and not the US.

Posted by
8293 posts

With regard to the pancake mix, you can so easily make your own mix. Take a recipe and buy the ingredients there. Oh, I see you are in Fiesole now. Well, google a recipe. Baking powder in Europe seems to some in little sachets of a couple of teaspoons each, at least, that is how I have seen it in France, but you will surely find it in the baking ingredients section of a store. Cranberry juice? Who knows. It's in the UK shops but I suspect you'll need to search hard for it in Italy.

Posted by
7737 posts

FWIW, my Italian instructor said she had never heard of baking powder before she came to the States, so I think this is a legit question. What I want to know, Lizanne, is what you're doing in the beautiful town of Fiesole (overlooking Florence)? Do you live there now?

Thanks.

Posted by
8293 posts

My Italian/English dictionary says baking powder is "lievito in polvere", which the Italian teacher may recognize if indeed she bakes.

Posted by
8667 posts

This is a great question. Believe me, even though the bags say flour or sugar in Italian, they will not be quite the same. Different kinds of wheat, different milling, etc. Baking powder will probably also be very different. I found this out with the German products. I thought I could use the "back pulver" translation - bake powder. OMG, the biscuits were so funny. They raised all right, but the taste! eeeew. All of my American recipes have to be adjusted. Check out some expat blogs and there will probably be someone who has figured all of this out for you already. In the meantime, try looking at this website:

http://rome.angloinfo.com/countries/italy/living.asp

as it might have some valuable info for you or at least lead you in the right direction. There may even be some stores where you can buy your products. Frankfurt has a British store and in the large department stores, they have an "American" section. Think Oreos for 8 €, or Campbells soup for 3€. Funnily enough, cranberries have hit the scene over here since about 2 years and you can now buy them at the open markets and the juice in the stores. Yahoo! I love the stuff. I know that Italy is quite different than Germany, but the difficulties might be solved in similar ways. I actually learned how to make many things that I had formerly bought. Like tortillas, refried beans, pancakes, etc. Or I learned to substitute the vanilla sugar packets for the vanilla extract, creme fraiche for sour cream, etc. Makes cooking fun.

Posted by
1358 posts

Having shopped for groceries in over 20 countries, I can say that you can find almost anything you want in foreign groceries. Ask about finding a supermarket.

In a town the size of Florence there will be many. Every time I go back to Europe (since 1979) I have been amazed at the increase in large retail stores of all types.

Your problem will be in describing what you want. Try reading the labels first, then ask another customer or a clerk if you need to. I always manage to find someone who knows.

Many Italians speak English. It is surprising how many Americans or Englishmen I find when I speak English to a European.

Posted by
9070 posts

I think John Travolta's character said it best in the movie "Pulp Fiction". When talking about his experiences in Europe: "It's the little differences. I mean, they got the same sh*t over there that they got here, but it's just – it's just there it's a little different."

Posted by
401 posts

You have listed all the big ones that just can't be found, especially the cranberry juice and the pancake mix. I make pancakes from scratch, and have found maple syrup, though it costs an arm and a leg. The baking power can be found, but it is sold in little packets. My mom always brings vanilla extract when she comes, the closest thing I ever found was vanilla extract in powder form, not what we think of. On the other hand, the typical Italian supermarket offers so many other fantastic alternatives that I don't miss the American cuisine too much, I drink my weight in cranberry juice when I go back to the States on vacation.

Posted by
606 posts

Frank said, "Why would you think that sour cream, baking powder, etc. are American grocery items?"

I've visited friends in Sweden several times and we've never been able to find sour cream there. Closest we can find is more like plain yogurt.

Posted by
104 posts

For the baking powder why not take some with you?

Pancake mix you can make from scratch.

Vanilla again get a small bottle and carry with you.

Cranberry juice visit your local Food Service
or Bar location and see if they will see you can of the concentrate (again not so hard to transport size of a soda can put on plastic bag in your luggage)
Add water when you arrive.

http://www.oceansprayfoodservice.com/products/product.aspx?id=00520-000&nid=2

sour cream will have to be mock - Greek yogurt and some lemon juice.

Happy travels!

Posted by
5192 posts

For Patrick in Arkansas, for your next trip to Sweden, "Gräddfil" is probably the closest to sour cream but it is not as high in fat as american sour cream so it is not exactly the same. I often substituted creme fraiche which was thicker but not sour.

Lizanne, you've listed some of the same items that I always found a challenge to find when living in Europe. They have vanilla powder, but not the same as extract. The first time that someone visited me, they asked me if I wanted anything from the States. I had them bring vanilla extract, almond extract, baking soda, and baking powder. I often substituted creme fraiche for sour cream, made my own pancakes from scratch, chopped up chocolate bars to substitute for chocolate chips, etc. When you are traveling, you don't notice that these things are not available, but after a while you want some chocolate chip cookies or brownies or something else and realize you can't find the things to make them.

Lucky you to be living in Italy. Enjoy your experience there.

Posted by
8667 posts

Do a translation for the real name of Baking Soda and I bet you will be able to pick it up at the local pharmacy. I have also found if I google "substitutions" for items this will help me so I can use something else. Like buttermilk. This is easily substituted. Corn starch was hard for me to find. Seriously, look for some bloggers who blog about life as an American or Brit or Canadian in Italy. I guarantee you, some of them will have already found all these answers for you.

Posted by
440 posts

Lizanne, you can make sour cream by adding a tiny amount of vinegar to regular cream.

Posted by
1 posts

I have found pancake mix, Bisquick, and Ocean Spray cranberry juice at an Asian market located near SMN - Vivi Market, Via dei Giglio, 20-22. They also carry Mexican food items like tortillas and salsa, Betty Crocker cake mix and frosting, among other things....though be prepared to pay more than you might want to. These items can be pretty expensive.

Sour cream is harder to find, but I have found it in some health food stores in town (though not consistently). You can substitute plain yogurt in baking. I found that The Sterzinger Kostlichkeiten brand works the best (they also make the best yogurt in general). The vinegar suggestion won't work, though, because you can't get plain distilled vinegar in Italy.

Baking powder is the same as in the states, but it is called "lievito in polvere" and you have to be careful because a lot of them are flavored with vanilla - "lievito vaniglinato". If you're baking cookies and whatnot, this is a good substitute for not having vanilla extract. But you can find vanilla beans and paste in the health food stores and I have used these successfully in lieu of vanilla extract. This can be found in any of the "big" markets like Esselunga, Standa, NaturaSi, and Il Centro Supermercati. If you haven't found out already, most of these places will also deliver right to your house!

Hope this helps! Good luck!

Posted by
2 posts

Okay, I have a stumper: where can I find shredded coconut in or near Firenze? I'm not talking about "farina di coco", coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut juice, or powdered coconut milk because I already know where to get all of those.

Thanks for the tip about Vivi Market! I'm going to stop by after work today.

Posted by
1158 posts

Lizanne,

I don't know where you can find those items, but I can tell you that they are American. each country has those, but they might taste different tahn the ones made in the US. Even if you buy a brand that you can find in the US, most likely will taste different.