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Rome - Shopping

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Shopping for essentials is quite different in Rome than in many other Western cities. Expatriates will find it strange that most shops, including supermarkets and grocery stores, are closed between the hours of 1:00 PM and 4:00 or 4:30 PM. Shops are often also closed on Monday mornings. Although groceries are usually open during this time, they are usually closed on Thursday afternoons. Most shops in Rome close by 7:30 PM. Expatriates should not expect store owners and employees to go out of their way to help you find the items you need. In fact, you will likely be discouraged from examining items if you are in a store ten minutes before closing time. Shop owners do not want to have to spend time restocking items after the store closes.

There are thousands of supermarkets and malls in Rome, but they are not centrally located. Near the city's center, you will instead find small stores that are more expensive than supermarkets. If you are in the central Rome area, you can visit one grocer favored by expatriates and locals alike, Forno. This store is located on Via delle Muratte near the Trevi Fountain. You can also visit a small supermarket and fruit and vegetable market in Via del Boschetto, or the Jewish Quarter grocery store in Via Portico d'Ottavia.

Outside of the city center, Carrefour is the most common supermarket chain. Here, you will find groceries, household items, and the ubiquitous beer, wine, and spirits aisle.

Fruit and vegetable markets are plentiful throughout the city. These can be useful not only for finding good bargains on produce and other household items, but for learning the unique culture of Rome, and mingling with the locals to find out where to get the best deals.

One of the most famous and picturesque fruit and vegetable markets in the city is the Campo de Fiori, near Largo Argentina. This market is set in a traditional square in the historic district of the city. Prices at this market are slightly higher than at markets in outlying areas, but the quintessentially Roman experience makes shopping at Campo de Fiori worth the extra expense. It is open during morning hours from Monday through Saturday. Another fruit and vegetable market that features a greater variety of groceries and other items is Piazza Vittorio, near the Vittorio stop of metro line "A", just south of the Termini. This market is popular with expatriates because many of the market stalls are owned and operated by immigrants, so there are foods available from all over the world. Pickpockets and petty thieves sometimes prey on tourists in this market, though, so use caution when carrying money or other valuables here.

Small shops line the streets surrounding this market, and several offer international foods. In these shops, you can find items familiar to Westerners such as Maxwell House coffee, peanut butter, and pancake mixes. You will also find a number of other international treats such as Mexican foods, Asian staples, and Meditteranean items such as tahini.

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