Grocery shopping in Umbria – Paradiso Ceramics Australia | Handmade in Italy


Grocery shopping in Umbria

One of the many things we enjoy about staying in ‘our’ house in Umbria is grocery shopping. Discovering which supermarkets have the best salami, yummiest bread, freshest fruit and vegetables and most delicious pastries is fun. 

We have become familiar with several supermarkets in and around Assisi, but like shopping in a small one near the Assisi station. Though buying from the farmer's markets in small towns and villages is best of all.

Supermercato at Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Nearly every Australian brings a jar of Vegemite when visiting Italy, but there's no need to pack Nutella. Italian love this chocolate and hazelnut spread, and jars of Nutella come in every shape and size imaginable. We were astonished to see pallet loads of the stuff at one supermercato!

Pallet load of Nutella in an Umbrian supermarket

Italians love chocolate for breakfast. The choice at our closest supermarket was limited. We could have cornflakes, with or without chocolate, muesli, with or without chocolate, or Coco Pops. 

In our early visits to Italy, bread was sold by weight. Jan reckons it’s because it’s as heavy as a brick, tastes like rock on the outside and cardboard inside. Bread is not Italy’s greatest asset but by hunting around in delis and bakeries we could find something more to our taste as long as we shopped early - Italians buy their bread ‘fresh’ each day.

Our local supermarket now caters for Australian’s need for toast and we can buy sliced bread, but it is very small loaf and thinly sliced.

You can buy long life milk in many shapes and sizes but they don’t do much fresh milk in Umbria.  Again, the early bird catches the fresh stuff.

It would be an advantage for the traveler to come with a predilection for pasta as that aisle has the most choices at the supermarket. A stark contrast with the cereal section.

Long aisle of pasta at our supermarket

Contrary to some of our fellow traveler’s belief, you do not need fibre supplements as there is plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables available. Several nearby towns have a weekly market selling a range of locally grown produce. 

We enjoyed buying from a lady, selling from a street cart in Assisi, who used hand scales to weigh our purchases.

Fresh fruit and vegetable seller in Assisi

With olive groves on nearly every slope, one would expect the most wonderful array of Italian olives to be sold everywhere. We guessed the best olives must be pressed for olive oil as those we found on supermarket shelves were tasteless and sold for an exorbitant price.

Olives grow on almost every slope and in every valley in Umbria

Umbria and Tuscany boast they have the best olive oil. Several years ago, we unwittingly purchased a bottle of virgin olive oil from a cantina for 25 euro (around $50). We suggest that you pick up a bottle at the local store.  Mostly it’s all good.

And of course, we would be amiss if we did not mention the wine. We are partial to vino from Signore Giovanino’s tiny supermarket in Paradiso. He sells 1 litre bottles of local red and white wine for 3 euro (about $5). And, when you return the bottle, you get 50 cents back. Yes, it’s earthy and yes, it’s young, but it’s also very drinkable with no preservatives. That means no headache in the morning. 😃

Giovanini's wine against the sunset in Paradiso

You can buy wine in bottles, flagons and even take your own container to fill up at some places. Some cantinas sell it in three litre bottles. We discovered it's very hard to get the cork out of these and harder still to lift the blooming thing to pour the wine. (But we had to try it!)

Range of wine on the dresser at Paradiso

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