Not so many years ago, Venice was a city of neighborhood alimentari or grocery stores, cheese shops, meat markets, and produce vendors. Supermarkets were few and far between.
Times have changed, and today you'll supermarkets in most of Venice's sestieri or districts. That's bad news for traditionalists, but it's good news if you're a foreign tourist who's intimidated by unfamiliar shopping customs and language barriers.
Shopping at a supermarket can be a time-saver when you're stocking the refrigerator of your vacation apartment or browsing for snacks to keep in your hotel room. It also lets you mingle with the locals in an everyday, real-life environment.
Of the supermarket chains in Venice, one of our favorites is Despar, which had three stores the last time we checked: one near the railroad station that caters mostly to tourists, another close to the Rialto Bridge, and its Venice flagship store in a renovated cinema east of the Guglie Bridge on the main pedestrian thoroughfare between the station and the Piazza San Marco.
Despar is the only supermarket in Venice with consistently good breads, rolls, and pastries, which you can buy from plexiglass bins. (You'll need to use plastic gloves when selecting items from the bulk bins. Use the scale nearby to weigh your items, enter the appropriate stock number, and print a tag. A few items are sold by number rather than weight. If that's the case, a pop-up keypad will appear on the screen after you enter the item number, and you can indicate how many items you're purchasing.)
Another popular chain is Coop, which has more supermarkets in Venice than any of its competitors. The largest stores are located just off the Piazzale Roma (near vaporetto platform "A") and on the Strada Nova, not far from the Campo SS. Apostoli in Cannaregio.
Small and medium-size Coop or InCoop stores are scattered around the city center and on the glassmaking island of Murano. Coop (pronounced "Cope") is especially notable for its high-quality and competitively-priced store brands.
Conad has several stores in the centro storico and on the Lido di Venezia. Two of the biggest are on the Zattere, facing the Giudecca Canal in Dorsoduro, and another in the far northwestern reaches of Cannaregio, where you'll find what may be the biggest and least crowded supermarket in Venice.
Other supermarket brands in central Venice include Punto (with stores in the San Marco area and the Campo Santa Margherita), Prix (a discount chain with a handful of neighborhood stores), and Crai (with two Venice locations, including a large store on the Calle dei Fabbri near the Piazza San Marco).
Supermarket shopping tips:
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