Shops and Shopping in the Italian Language

Jul 7, 2010


il negozio 

the shop 

Department stores (magazzini) aren’t as widespread or as popular in Italy as in the United States. You’re more likely to find negozi (shops), often owned and run by the same family for generations. 

Among the many varieties of Italian negozietti (small shops): 

antiquario — antique store (above)

 calzoleria — shoe repair 

 cartoleria — office and stationery 

edicola — news stand, kiosk 

enoteca — wine shop 

farmacia — pharmacy 

ferramenta — hardware store 

 gioiellieria — jewelry store 

 libreria — bookshop 

 merceria — knitting, sewing, laces, buttons, small items 

 negozio di abbigliamento intimo — underwear, pajamas, stockings 

 negozio di arredamento — furniture 

 negozio di casalinghi — household items (pans, espresso machines, irons, etc.) 

 negozio di fiori or fioraio — flower shop 

 negozio di giocattoli — toy store 

 officina — automotive repair, body shop 

 profumeria — beauty products 

 salumeria — delicatessen (cheeses, olives, cured meat products, etc.) 

Lo shopping in these establishments offers extra delights. Merchandise, like the beautiful paper products in the Cartoleria “Imperiale” at 10 Via Metastasio in Rome, may be hand-crafted on the premises. And the artigiani (artisans) who create them are often willing to invite customers into their back-room studios and describe their work. 

Painter at Cartoleria 

Opening hours (orario d’apertura) vary, depending on the type of shop and the region.
Almost all shops close for lunch (il pranzo) at 1:00 p.m. and may reopen at 3:30, 4:00, or 4:30 p.m., depending on their location. When they are open, many shops post a sign saying “entrata libera” (free entrance). 

When you enter a shop, the sales clerk (comesso) may ask, “Posso aiutarla?” (“May I help you?”) or simply say, “Mi dica” (“Tell me”—what you want.) If you’re just browsing, you can say, “Solo guardando.” 

European sizes (misure) are completely different from American ones and do not translate exactly. In the United States, my dress size is a four. In Italy, it’s a gargantuan-sounding 40 or 42. So before I buy a dress (vestito da donna), skirt (gonna), jacket (giacca), or a pair of slacks (pantaloni), I always ask if I can try it on (“Posso provarlo?”). 

Sometimes the item is too big (troppo grande), small (piccolo), short (corto), long (lungo), tight (stretto), loose (largo), dark (scuro), light (chiaro)—or just too expensive (troppo caro). I may ask for something cheaper (meno caro) or of better quality (di migliore qualità). 

 When I find something that suits me (mi sta bene), I ask how much it costs (“quanto costa?”) and if I can use my credit card (carta di credito). “I’ll take it” (“Lo prendo”), I say when I’ve made my decision. And because it’s very important to have a receipt for every purchase in Italy, I ask for one more thing: lo scontrino. 

Words and Expressions 

fare un buon negozio – to make a good bargain 

giovane di negozio – shop assistant  

aprire un negozio – open a shop

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