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Italian Language/"supermercato" vs "drogheria"


Dear Maria,

Would you please help me to understand the term – “drogheria”.

Is this a “grocery store”?

Is this term also used for a type of “restaurant”?

Can you also please help me with the term - "supermercato".

Can you  tell me if I am correct to think that a “supermercato” is a type of large grocery store - part of a large chain of  grocery stores,  where as a “drogheria” is a small grocery store - probably a single owner.

Are both the terms “drogheria” and “supermercato” used in Italy?

Thank you so much for your help.  I really appreciate your kindness in explaining these things to me.

Very Sincerely,


Dear Rich,

the Italian term “drogheria” is used to indicate a small shop/store (almost always belonging to a single owner), that sells by retail food and other things used in the home, such as spices (black/white pepper,cinnamon, etc); various kinds of cold meats and salami, i.e. a type of highly seasoned sausage usually eaten cold in slices; prosciutto, i.e. ​dried ​ham (= ​meat from the ​leg or ​shoulder of a ​pig) ​served in very ​thin ​slices; ready meals such as lasagne al forno (baked lasagna dressed with besciamella and ragů), melanzane alla parmigiana (aubergines with tomatoes and cheese), etc.

So, if a grocery store is just a  retail shop where you can buy spices, food, ready meals and ​food, as I've ​mentioned ​earlier,it can correspond to the Italian term  "drogheria" which cannot be used for a type of  “restaurant”, i.e. "ristorante" in Italian, i.e. a ​place where people pay to sit and eat custom-made meals that are cooked  and served on the premises.

As for the term "supermercato" (supermarket) which is part of a large chain of supermarkets, it is just a type of large store which ​sells most ​types of ​food (such as e.g. pasta, wine, bier, olive oil, butter, eggs, bread, vegetables, fruit, jam,juices, fresh milk,long-life milk, yogurts, fresh/mature cheese, meat, tinned food, frozen food,ground coffee,cookies, etc.) and other ​goods ​needed in the ​home (such as cleansing agents, bath soap,liquid soap, cold cream,shoe polish,shaving cream,etc.).

In the "supermercato" we can  also find a grocery department, where we can buy groceries, i.e.  the ​food that we ​buy in a "drogheria" (grocer's ​shop),but in a "supermercato" there may be no grocery department, of course.

To sum up, the "drogheria", which is a small grocery store - probably a single owner-, is not the same as the "supermercato", though in a "supermercato", which is part of large chain of supermarkets, we can also find a grocery department.

So, while in American English "grocery store" is often used to mean "supermarket", in Italian  a "drogheria" is different from a "supermercato" as well as from a "ristorante".

Hope all is clear enough.

Have a nice day,


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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.


Over 25 years teaching experience.

I received my Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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