Finding grocery stores and larger supermarkets in Siena is not always easy or intuitive, though shopping at them provides for a rich cultural experience. These businesses occupy centuries-old buildings in many cases, sometimes revealing unique floor plans that only add to their local character. This page provides an overview of comprehensive urban grocery stores in or near the city’s historic center, with maps and some photos below where more locational detail may be necessary. They are all walkable within the walled city (except those near the train station), though certain stores will be closer to you than others depending on where you are staying. Finally, should you have some of your own observations to consider for inclusion here, please provide a comment below and I will review it. Grazie!
NOTES AND DISCLAIMERS: Businesses can, of course, come and go over time, though the ones listed here have been stable for six or more years (up through 2019). The smaller Conad store on the Campo (see below) is actually a new addition (and has saved me many lengthy walking trips). Also, the stores below represent a range of sizes and scale. While they all serve general groceries and household goods, you may only find a few brands of something at the smaller stores. Only at the Pam and Coop near the train station (see below) will you find the large-scale supermarket to which you may be accustomed. You may need to supplement goods from one store if you don’t find them at another. Happy exploring and shopping!
TOM’S TIPS: Having shopped at all of these places either regularly or sporadically, here are some helpful observations:
- For those shopping on foot, bring a backpack and a canvas (or equivalent) re-usable shopping bag (or two) so that you don’t get stuck with too many groceries to carry (I’ve hit my limit more than once). Heavy items like water, soda, juice, and milk can go in the backpack, saving space and weight in your hand-carried bags. The check-out person at most if not all of these stores will likely ask if you want one or more of their bags (usually for a nominal charge). This is likely the question they are asking you if you don’t speak much Italian. “Busta” is the basic word used for grocery bag. You can use theirs if desired, and they will add the charge to your bill. If you have your own, indicate that you do not need theirs.
- If there are fruits and vegetables for sale individually as with most of these places, please do not touch the items with your hands (tourists are famous for this at the Conad stores, for instance, because they don’t yet know local/Italian customs). Look for the plastic glove dispenser, put it on, and select your products that way. Place them in the available plastic veggie bag, and weigh them yourself at the scale provided. To select your product on the scale, type in the number code provided (usually 1-99) on the product bin. If unsure, ask for help, or better yet, watch someone else do it. Also, sometimes at smaller stores, they prefer selecting items for you (or you can point).
- Italians love to use cash. Although most if not all stores will accept credit cards, cash is more commonly used here than in America and perhaps elsewhere. When purchasing relatively large numbers of items in the supermarket-sized stores (Conad or bigger), you can usually hand them 50 or 100 euro bills. Sometimes these are the best places to obtain smaller bills in change, if you need them. However, smaller stores (not just groceries) will not likely agree willingly to provide you with a lot of change for only a few items. Smaller bills and especially euro coins are hard to come by for most businesses in Italy, so try to avoid asking for lots of change (like you might do at a bank) at smaller stores.
STORE LOCATIONS AND NOTES