Published on: 2 April 2013 | Last updated: 23 January 2017
Many supermarket deli counters are happy to make you a panino, but you can of course also buy the ingredients and make your own.
Bread is often sold by weight in Italy - a mezzo kilo (half kilo will get you half a medium-sized loaf. A useful word to know is la meta - half so you can point at a likely looking piece of bread and ask for half of it. If you want less than half a kilo it’s probably easiest to ask for a panino. You can find wholemeal bread - ‘pane integrale’.
Deli counters in supermarkets normally have a ticket system. A chi tocca? means who's turn is it?
If you are ordering cooked meats, cheese etc at the deli counter a useful word is un etto - a hundred grams (about a quarter pound). Due etti - 200 grams. So - due etti di prosciutto crudo (or cotto - cooked)- due etti di formaggio.
If you don't know what something is called you can ask for un etto di questo/quello (a hundred grams of this/that) - or un po (a little) or un pezzo.
The range of meats includes:
- prosciutto crudo/cotto
Both salami and formaggio can be morbido (mild) or piccante (strong or spicy).
In the north you might also come across speck - ham that has been salted and air-dried. And many deli counters also sell roast beef (which is called, helpfully, roast beef).
After serving the first item the assistant will ask e poi? or altro? (or something similar) meaning 'anything else?'. If you've go everything you want just say basta così, grazie.
In supermarkets you can often also find prepackaged meat and cheese. A well as things like tuna.
Vegetables and fruit
Very very few Italian supermarkets weigh fruit and vegetables at the checkout. Generally you have to weigh it yourself (make a note of the number for the product and then tap it in on the scale). Forgetting to do this is probably the number one 'gotcha' for foreigners in Italy.
Get in touch
Please get in touch if you find any errors in the information, or if there’s anything, good or bad, that you’d want other cyclists to know.
Join the mailing list?
If you’ve found this site useful why not sign up to the mailing list for occasional updates about new routes.