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Venice Supermarkets

Despar Teatro Italia supermarket, Venice, Italy.

ABOVE: Despar, in the renovated Teatro Italia movie theater, may be the most beautiful supermarket you'll ever visit. If you stop to take pictures, as many visitors do, try not to get in the way of shoppers!

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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.


Despar Teatro Italia at night.

ABOVE: The Despar Teatro Italia resembles an ancient palazzo. It's located on the Campiello dell'Anconeta, along the main walking route between Venice's railroad station and the Piazza San Marco.

Of the grocery chains in Venice, our favorite may be Despar, which has increased its Venice footprint in recent years. Its Teatro Italia, a former cinema, is a fake Venetian Gothic architectural masterpiece with a great selection of foods.

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.)


Coop supermercato in Strada Nova, Venice.

ABOVE: Coop has stores all over central Venice. You'll pass this large Coop Alleanza branch in the Strada Nova if you walk from the Venezia Santa Lucia railroad station to the Piazza San Marco.

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 (facing vaporetto platform "D") and on the Strada Nova, which is one of Venice's main pedestrian thoroughfares.

Small and medium-size Coop or InCoop stores are scattered around the city center and on Lagoon islands such as Murano.

Coop, pronounced "Cope," is notable for its high-quality and competitively-priced store brands. (I'm a big fan of its special coffee for Moka pots, which are the coffeemakers you're most likely to find in Venice vacation apartments.)


Conad City supermarket on Venice's Zattere.

ABOVE: This Conad City branch faces the Giudecca Canal on the Fondamenta delle Zattere, next to the San Basilio vaporetto station. It looks small from the outside, but its modest entrance hides a large supermarket.

Conad has a growing number of stores in the centro storico and on the Lido di Venezia. Two of our favorites are on the Fondamenta delle Zattere (facing the Giudecca Canal) and in the far northwestern reaches of Cannaregio, where you'll find what may be the biggest and least crowded supermarket in Venice.

The latter (shown below) is a convenient place to stock up on groceries for your vacation apartment, thanks to its wide aisles and large selection of foods.

Conad Spesa Facile supermarket in Cannaregio.

ABOVE: The largest supermarket in central Venice is probably this modern Conad City store, which is tucked away in a residential neighborhood near the northwestern tip of Cannaregio.

Other supermercati:

Crai supermarket in Cannaregio, Venice.

ABOVE: This small, traditional-looking Crai supermarket in Venice's Castello district used to be a latteria or dairy shop.

Additional supermarket brands in central Venice include Crai, Prix (a discount chain with a handful of neighborhood stores), and Bailo (which had three small stores in central Venice the last time we checked).

Supermarket shopping tips:

Three dogs in a Despar supermarket, Venice.

ABOVE: Many supermarkets have waiting areas where you can leave your dog when you shop. (Often, the locals just let their unleashed dogs wait outside in the car-free street.)

  • You'll find supermarkets in most Venetian neighborhoods, including the islands of the Lido, Giudecca, Murano, and Burano.

  • Supermarket shopping hours vary, although nearly all stores are open every day of the week. Neighborhood stores may close at 8:30 or 9 p.m., while stores in busy locations such as the Zattere or Strada Nova are usually open until 9:30 or 10 p.m.

  • If you dislike crowds and get frazzled by long supermarket lines, try to avoid shopping during the evening rush.

  • When buying produce, you'll often need to put on a disposable plastic glove, fill a plastic bag, and weigh the bag on an electronic scale that has icons representing various fruits and vegetables or--in some cases--product numbers. Select the icon or enter the product number, click "OK, wait for the scale to print a price label, then stick the label on the plastic bag.

    Some stores have a similar system for unpackaged rolls, breads, and pastries. If the product is sold by the item, rather than by weight, a secondary virtual keypad will pop up on the screen. Just enter the number of items and click "OK" to print a label.

  • At deli counters (or in independent meat and dairy shops), you buy cold cuts and cheeses by the etto or 100 grams, which is just under a quarter of a pound. For example, if you want 200 grams of prosciutto, point at the ham and ask for "due etti."

  • It's usually simpler to pay by credit card than with cash. (Italian store clerks often have a fetish for exact change, and it's easier to just present your credit card than to rummage around looking for one- or two-cent coins.)

  • Larger supermarkets have self-service checkouts in addition to the usual checkout lines. When a store is busy and you're buying just a few items, it may be quicker to use the automated checkout. You can pay with a credit card, banknotes, or coins, and the machines issue change.

  • Pets are supposed to be left outside the store or in the store lobby, but don't be surprised if you see the occasional shopper with a small dog in a basket or tucked into a jacket.

  • If you have a tote or shopping bag, take it with you to the supermarket. (Bags are usually available at the cashier for a small fee.)

  • Finally, a handful of supermarkets (such as Despar) require you to scan your register receipt to leave the store. Keep your receipt handy after you've paid, and hold the receipt's barcode against the infrared scanner at the exit gate. The gate will then open to let you out.

Map links:

Cheryl Imboden by Coop San Giacomo dall'Orio, Venice.

ABOVE: A small Coop supermarket overlooks the pretty Campo San Giacomo dall'Orio in Venice's district of San Polo.

Venice has so many supermarkets that you really don't need a map to find one. However, the following Google Maps links will be useful if you want to reach the city's largest or most distinctive supermercati:

Please note: The precision of Google Maps can vary by device, so if you don't see a large red marker, drag the map until you do.

More photos:

Coop supermarket on Fondamente Nova.

ABOVE: The Coop Querini Castello supermarket on the right (behind the arched doorway) is in a boatyard just east of the Fondamente Nove, beyond the Ospedale Civile or municipal hospital. Look for a door in the boatyard's brick wall, which is open during business hours.

Coop supermercato on Piazzale Roma, Venic.e

ABOVE: You'll find another Coop around the corner from the Piazzale Roma, next to a vaporetto stop. (Look for platform "D.") It occupies several converted warehouses and is next door to a DM health & beauty aids shop.

Conad Tuday supermarket in Venice, Italy.

Santo Spirito Tuday supermarket by Conad, Venice.

ABOVE: Some of Conad's smaller stores have been relabeled with the "Tuday" brand.

Despar San Marco supermarket, Venice.

ABOVE: Supermarket brands come and go, but the stores stay put. This large and modern Despar (formerly Crai, and before that Punto) reflects a church's façade in Venice's San Marco district.

ABOVE: A truck on a barge delivers groceries to the Conad City supermercato on the Fondamenta della Zattere.

Woman carrying dog in Despar Teatro Italia supermarket, Venice.

Dog in shopping cart at Despar supermarket in Venice.

ABOVE: Venetians can be brazen about shopping with their dogs.

Also see:
Venice Shopping Index
Venice Food Index

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden has written about Venice, Italy since 1996. He covered Venice and European travel at for 4-1/2 years before launching Europe for Visitors (including Venice for Visitors) with Cheryl Imboden in 2001.

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