Italian Phrases for Shopping in Italy

'Fare Lo Shopping': Manage your shopping like a pro

Nativity Shops in Naples

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Shopping is one of the great pleasures of being in Italy, whether in a bakery, a pharmacy, or any other negozio (store). After all, who doesn’t bring home a suitcase brimming with oils and products that read “Made in Italy”?

With that in mind, here is some vocabulary to help you in the shopping experience.

I Negozi: Types of Stores

Italy, together with most of Europe, is still known for its specialty shopping. Here are the names of the most popular specialty stores:

  • L’edicola: newsstand
  • La gioielleria: jewelry shop
  • La profumeria: perfume/cosmetic shop
  • La libreria: bookshop
  • La tabaccheria: tobacco shop
  • Il supermercato: supermarket
  • La farmacia: pharmacy
  • La tintoria/lavanderia: drycleaners
  • La pasticceria: pastry shop
  • La macelleria: butcher
  • La panetteria/il forno: bakery
  • La pizzicheria/salumeria: delicatessen
  • Il fruttivendolo: greengrocer
  • La cartoleria: stationery shop
  • La merceria: sewing goods store
  • La passamaneria: upholstery/trimmings store
  • La ferramenta: hardware store

Note that, technically, a tabaccheria is a tobacco shop, and, in fact, one goes there to buy cigarettes or pipe tobacco; but you also buy magazines, candy, and bus tickets there. It is also where you to buy recharges for your phone.

A cartoleria sells everything from stationery to sewing goods and toys. A pasticceria and a panetteria or a forno are sometimes combined, making both bread and pastries.

For anything that does not have its own name (or whose name is not known to you), you can use the term negozio di and whatever it is you are looking for:

  • Negozio di scarpe: shoe store
  • Negozio di formaggi: cheese store
  • Negozio di tessuti/stoffe: fabric store
  • Negozio di souvenirs: souvenir store
  • Negozio di ceramiche: ceramics/pottery store
  • Negozio di antiquariato: antique shop

An artisanal shop such as that of a woodworker is called una bottega. A shopping mall is a centro commerciale. A second-hand store is un negozio dell'usato; a flea market is un mercato delle pulci.

General Shopping Phrases

Shopping has some international unspoken language that everyone everywhere understands: a nod, an inquiring look, a smile. Nonetheless, shopping is a good time to put some of your vocabulary to use.

The basic verbs for shopping are: aiutare (to help), comprare (to buy), guardare (to look), cercare (to look for), vedere (to see), volere (to want), prendere (to take/get), piacere (to like), costare (to cost), and pagare (to pay). In the context of phrases:

  • Mi scusi. Excuse me.
  • Vorrei... I would like....
  • Sto cercando... I am looking for...
  • Sto solo guardando, grazie. I am just looking.
  • Vorrei vedere... I would like to see...
  • Mi piace/piacciono molto. I like this/these very much.
  • Quanto costa/costano? How much does it/do they cost?
  • Quant'è, per favore? How much is it?
  • Un po' troppo caro, grazie. It's a bit too expensive.
  • Volevo spendere di meno/di più. I wanted to spend less/more.
  • Lo prendo, grazie. I will take this, thank you.
  • Basta così, grazie. That's all.

Some things that might be said to you while you are browsing (a salesperson is la commessa or il commesso):

  • Posso aiutarla? May I help you (formal)?
  • La posso servire? May I be of service?
  • Sta cercando qualcosa in particolare? Are you looking for something in particular?
  • Ha bisogno di aiuto? Do you need help?
  • Ha bisogno di altro? Do you need anything else?
  • Qualcos'altro? Something else?

If you are buying gifts (regalo/regali), you can ask for una confezione regalo (gift-wrapping).

Some terms you might hear while shopping for artisanal products:

  • Fatto/a/i/e a mano. It’s handmade.
  • Sono di lavorazione artigianale. They are made artisanally.
  • È un prodotto locale. It's a local product.
  • Sono prodotti artigianali. They are artisanal products.

Italians are, of course, rightly proud of their artisanal traditions, and, if you ask and are truly interested, often they are happy to show you where something is made and by whom.

Shopping at a Market

Most cities and towns have open-air markets at least one day a week (in some cities there is one every day, like a permanent market). Going to il mercato is a fun experience, full of color, bustle, and good product, both food and other.

Again, at the mercato your key verbs are: avere (to have), comprare (to buy), costare (to cost), pesare (to weigh), assaggiare (to taste), incartare (to wrap):

  • Quanto costano le patate? How much are the potatoes?
  • Cosa ha di fresco? What do you have that's fresh?
  • Un etto di prosciutto per favore. One hundred grams of prosciutto, please.
  • Posso assaggiare, per favore? Can I taste, please?

It is helpful to brush up on one's use of the partitive before shopping for food in Italy so you can ask for some cheese and some bread.

  • Ha dei fichi? Do you have some figs?
  • Vorrei del pane. I would like some bread.
  • Vorrei della frutta. I would like some fruit.
  • Vorrei un po' di formaggio. I would like a little cheese.

If you have rented a place and you are doing some cooking on your own, you can ask your mercante or negoziante for suggestions on how to cook something or how much you need:

  • Quanto/quanti per otto persone? How much/how many for eight people?
  • Come cucino questo pesce? How do I cook this fish?
  • Come li preparo questi ravioli? How should I prepare these ravioli?
  • Cosa mi suggerisce? What do you suggest?

Shopping at a Clothing Store

The key verbs for shopping for clothes or shoes are portare (to wear), indossare (to wear), stare a (to fit), provare (to try). To say that you are a certain size, you can also use essere, as in English.

  • Sono/porto/indosso una taglia media. I am/I wear a medium.
  • Porto una 38. I wear a size 8.
  • Posso provare questo vestito? May I try this dress?
  • Vorrei provare questi. I would like to try these.
  • Dove sono i camerini? Where are the fitting rooms?
  • Non mi sta/stann0. It doesn't fit.
  • Mi sta stretto/piccolo. It fits me tightly/it's small.
  • Sono grandi/piccoli. They are too big.
  • È comodo. It’s comfortable.
  • È scomodo. It's uncomfortable.
  • Ha una taglia più grande? Do you have a larger size?
  • Ha altri colori? Do you have other colors?
  • Preferisco... I prefer...

If you want to exchange something, you use scambiare.

  • Vorrei scambiare questo, per favore. I would like to exchange this, please.

Of course, if you are trying something or buying something, that something is a direct object or you are going to use a direct object pronoun for it. If you are trying shoes, it's provarle; if it's a sweater, it's provarlo; if it's a scarf, it's provarlo. If you are a serious student of Italian, of course, you want to make everything agree, but don’t let it ruin your shopping experience!

Bargaining

As a tourist in Italy it can be tricky to strike a good balance between not being taken for a ride (in a market, for example) and not abusing the art of bargaining. Italians do give discounts, happily, especially if you are buying more than one thing and if you are paying cash. It is also true that as a tourist, you should be aware of prices and not being taken advantage of. That said, it can be distasteful to bargain too much.

  • Lo/uno sconto: a discount.
  • Fare lo sconto: to give a discount.
  • Troppo caro/costoso: too expensive.
  • Un buon prezzo: a good price.
  • A buon mercato: at a good price

Ready to Pay?

In a big city, pretty much all payment methods are accepted everywhere, but in little towns some people might only accept some forms of payment:

  • Contanti: cash
  • Carta di credito: credit card.
  • Bancomat: ATM/debit card
  • Assegno turistico: traveler's cheque

With paying, the instrumental verbs are pagare (to pay), dovere (to owe), accettare (to take/accept, a credit card, for example) and prendere (to take):

  • Quant'è? How much is it, please?
  • Quanto le devo, per favore? How much do I owe you, please?
  • Accetta carte di credito? Do you take credit cards?
  • Posso pagare in contanti? Can I pay with cash?
  • Dov'è un bancomat, per favore? Where is an ATM please?

Buono shopping!