Favorite Supermarket and Pharmacy items found only in Italy

When I go to a foreign country, I love visiting the pharmacies and supermarkets to find items you can't get at home. With so many items, it helps to have an idea and/or recommendations. When I'm in France I look for rhubarb jam, Spain I look for Marcona almonda, and Germany a special very strong variety of Fisherman's Friend throat soothers. Any tips for Italy would be appreciated!

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
734 posts

buffalo mozzarella, parmigiano-reggiano and other regional cheeses...the freshness of the local stuff cannot be beat (the US versions pale in comparison and are fortified with fillers/preservatives for longer shelf life)

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1700 posts

I always bring back some tubes of olive paste. Don't remember the name, but the packaging is salmon pink and it's in toothpaste tubes. It's Kalmata-type olives, chopped fine, in olive oil.

Posted by Ellen
Centennial, CO, USA
1489 posts

I always shop the local grocery candy aisle and bring home (if it makes it home before eating) chocolate bars and cookies. Also like to find mustard and other condiments. Of course olive oil and balsamic vinegar....if bought at a specialty shop...not so much in a grocery store (then it would be pretty much the same quality as I can buy here) Nothing in a pharmacy interests me..and I find the prices to be way higher than in the US...

Posted by Janet
Maple Grove, MN
754 posts

I like to bring back parm. reg. cheese, invecchiato/aged balsamic vinegar, dried porcinis and Pocket Coffees which are small chocolates filled with espresso. I also usually pick up a few small jars of pesto and a can of ILLY coffee. This past July I also brought back a bunch of dried pasta seasonings and bruschetta topping and some dried porcini cubes.

Posted by Frances
San Diego
758 posts

For me it is Lo Bella Lip Gloss (like a chap stick) - I usually come home with about 4 or 5 for me and my sister-in-law. Love the stuff.

Posted by James
HENDERSON, Nevada, United States
59 posts

My kind of question! In Italy, search out a Carrefour Hypermarket-larger than a supermarket. They carry everything. most large cities have a few, we even found one in Aosta. We enjoy spending hours looking at all of the products not available in the U.S. One of the products you must try is Tempo brand pocket tissue. We came across them by accident, out of necessity . They are thicker and larger than the Kleenex brand here in the U. S. We brought extra home in Jan, but sadly we ran out last month.

Posted by Linda
Bromley, Kent,, UK
1759 posts

Not very romantic etc but we always stock up on "Smacchio Tutto" prewash stain remover!

Posted by Janet
Plympton, MA, USA
27 posts

Toothpaste, don't laugh. We use Mentadent and it only comes in the pump here in the states. In Italy it comes in a tube. Each time we go to Italy, we stock up and it usually lasts us 2 years or so...when we start to run out we know it is time to go back!

Posted by rachele
90 posts

Pasta Pasta Pasta! Unique shapes. Porcini mushroom cubes to make broth. Cannellini beans (dried). Nutella! It seems better than what we can buy here which is made in Canada.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
5239 posts

Small jars of Bottarga, jars of truffles, truffle salt, truffle oil (anything with truffles), dried porcini, Proraso shaving cream (in a tube, I use the brush), bags of dried spices for pasta sauce (eg arrabbiata etc). Just to name a few easy to pack.

Posted by Janet
Maple Grove, MN
754 posts

James I agree about the tissues over there. One of our kids came down with a cold while we were over there one time and we bought a multi-pack of the pocket tissues and I couldn't believe how thick they were! Almost like a handkerchief. And these were just the good old CONAD store brand and I still have some left as they are reserved for my purse! Should have picked up more when there in July but no room in the suitcases!

Posted by karren
oklahoma city, ok, usa
219 posts

I also buy tissues and toothpaste. Also like shaving cream in tubes and lip gloss. I love Perugia chocolate bananas too. I also buy packets of crackers and cookies for my kids. I also buy cooking spices...especially saffron.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11404 posts

Interesting thread, this... From Italy we often bring home special olive oil - I find it very difficult to find the strong green Tuscan oil in the UK, although the Costco (yes!!) Tuscan oil is very good, and various dry pastas and acqua minerale frizzante. From Switzerland we buy all our toothpaste and sunscreen, and have done so for years - from Migros. From France and Luxembourg we bring home tons of jam, concentrated fruit drink syrups, and bath soaps. From Luxembourg, all the cheap diesel we can carry. From France all the fresh veg we can get through before spoiling and the same for cheeses. From Belgium, if it isn't too hot, all the fresh cream chocolates we can afford from our favourite chocolatier in Gent. And inexpensive Peach Iced Tea from from the supermarket - so we don't have to deal with so many pfands (deposits) in Germany. The car tends to ride a little lower on the Channel crossing back to England than it did on the way to Europe.

Posted by Susan
Kamloops, BC, Canada
248 posts

In Italian supermarkets you can buy small boxes of small fabric sheets which absorb colour which 'bleeds' from dark clothing in laundry. So if you are doing a load of whites and add a dark shirt, the fabric sheet will absorb any dark dye which may 'bleed' from the dark shirt, leaving the rest of your whites bright! My cousin in Italy told me about them. I had never seen anything like them in Canada and still haven't seen them in stores here. Sorry; can't remember the name, but there are different brand names.

Posted by shirley
Toronto, Canada
341 posts

Soup cubes - mushroom flavour Dried porcini mushrooms Autan roll on bug repellent
Porcini mushroom risotto mix

Posted by Linda
Bromley, Kent,, UK
1759 posts

And, from Italy, "Fiordifrutta" organic jams and orange marmalade (it has just the right amount of bitterness (amare) that I like in a marmalade). Available from most supermarkets.