Sometimes over the past five years, I’ve been able to plan weeks in advance what I was going to write about for the Italy Roundtable. For other topics, I only realize a few days beforehand that there’s a Roundtable post coming up.
This month falls into the latter category.
The good news is that when I saw the topic of HEALTH, I had just gotten off the phone with a friend about an Italy trip she was planning – and she had a question for me that I realized I hadn’t yet covered specifically on Italy Explained. It’s one part packing, one part shopping, and it might be a little bit of a stretch to match this month’s theme perfectly, but that’s one of the many wonderful things about being your own boss.
When I say that I want Italy Explained readers to feel like they’re getting travel advice from a friend, I mean it. So much so that when my high school friend Amy recently contacted me on Facebook asking questions about her upcoming trip to Venice, I had a bunch of links on the site to send her – the stuff I’d already written was almost exactly the same information I would have typed out to answer her questions.
One of the exceptions was something I realized I had skirted around in a couple of articles but hadn’t yet answered directly. Amy rightly wondered what liquids she could avoid bringing from home because of the liquid restrictions on flights, but she also didn’t want to spend half a day in search of something simple like toothpaste.
I’m here, then, to talk about the wonders of Italian pharmacies and all the random things you can easily pick up when you arrive. There are some things it’s probably best if you bring with you, though, which I’ve also listed below.
So I guess this means that not only do I think of my Italy Explained readers as friends, I think of my friends as Italy Explained readers.
It may not surprise you to learn that many of the brand names you’re familiar with at home are also on store shelves in Italy. That obviously makes buying shampoo or toothpaste much easier, even if you don’t speak the language. There are still some words you’ll need to know, however, so that you don’t end up buying a bottle of hand lotion when you meant to get body wash.
(Yeah, just ask me why I’ve used that as an example.)
Here’s a vocabulary list for your pharmacy visit:
Italians, as I’ve mentioned before, are semi-obsessed with digestion, so treatments for tummy troubles are abundant in Italian stores. You can find both Maalox and Immodium at the pharmacy, plus a tablet water-soluble tablet (akin to Alka-Seltzer) called Citrosodina. So unless you have more severe problems with your digestive system, it’s probably safe to pick up something for the odd tummyache (should you need it) when you’re in Italy.
‡ Reader and friend Laurel (who lived in Rome) left a comment below that I wanted to highlight here, for those of you who don’t read comments. She says, “I found sunscreen in high SPF easy to find at the pharmacy in Italy. There is increasing awareness of skin cancer and dermatologists are recommending SPF 50 so it is available. … Some of the brands are La Roche-Posay Anthelios, Eucerin, Vichy and Heliocare.” I hadn’t had luck finding SPF 50 when I was in Italy recently, but I’m determined to try again at Laurel’s urging!
Italy’s most charming food markets are not big grocery stores, but Italy has those, too. And, like big grocery stores elsewhere, there are usually small pharmacy departments inside for basic items.
I find actual pharmacies to be more ubiquitous (they’re even in most train stations), but if you come across a grocery store before you find a pharmacy be aware that you can usually find most of the basics (shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, etc.) there. Medications of any kind are typically only found in pharmacies.
Click along with me through to the following links to read each of their posts – and please leave comments, share them with your friends, and tune in next month for another Italy Blogging Roundtable topic!
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