Roman supermarkets are much more fun than ours! I mentioned this to an Italian friend who once visited Los Angeles and she told me I was soooo wrong, and she’s probably right. The grass-is-always-greener factor comes into play a lot when I’m in Rome.
But there is a particular charm to Roman supermarkets – that is, the ones in the heart of Rome, as opposed to the suburbs. (The ones in the suburbs can be surprisingly similar to ours except the tomatoes are always better.)
In the heart of Rome, they specialize in stealth supermarkets. There you are, strolling down one of those winding, cobbled, claustrophobically narrow alleyways they also specialize in here, and then suddenly, tucked into a medieval facade, you spot the fluorescent-lit entrance to what turns out to be a labyrinthine wonderland of groceries.
Sometimes, the interiors have as much architectural integrity as the facades.
And if you do a little exploring beyond that loaf of bread and bottle of San Pelligrino you came here to pick up, you will discover all sorts of things you can’t get at home. America is lagging far behind, for example, in the production of toilet paper infused with chamomile.
I do not mean this little riff on the Roman supermarket to be an endorsement of the chain and even big box stores that are becoming more and more of a presence in Italy, as they are everywhere else.
I am all about supporting small business, as you know.
Roman supermarkets, like most supermarkets, tend to be chains. But in my – and their – defense, I just want to say that they seem to make a real effort not to desecrate the cityscape.
Unlike the McDonald’s that until just before Christmas spilled out onto the Piazza della Rotonda right across from the Pantheon, attracting the sort of clientele that thought nothing of dumping their McGarbage all over the poor Pantheon’s portico.
The Pantheon, of course, has survived far worse over its 2000 years of existence – for instance: fires, floods, earthquakes, the sack of Rome. But still…
So I am happy – deliriously happy!! – to report that that particular McDonald’s, at least, is gone now!
And good riddance!