If you are currently in Italy or plan to travel there soon, I have a major pro-tip for you: take advantage of the tobacco stores. You might read that sentence and wonder what in the world I’m talking about. You’re thinking “I don’t smoke, this post doesn’t apply to me whatsoever.” Wrong.
Tobacco stores, or tabaccheria (singular, tabaccherie plural) are one of the best resources you have as a traveler visiting Italy. Italian tobacco stores sell a lot more than just cigarettes, and this post is going to open your eyes to just how helpful Italian tobacco stores might be while you visit Italy!
What Is a Tabaccheria?
A tabaccheria is technically a smoke shop, where people go to get their cigarettes. Italians are notoriously heavy smokers, and cigarette vendors are everywhere. I think that this is actually why tobacco stores became so central to daily life! Every business needs to be profitable, and over time Italian tobacco stores added services to their list of offerings. Much like a corner store or drugstore in the United States, tobacco stores in Italy sell things ranging from lottery tickets, to cigarettes, to bus tickets.
While every tobacco store is different and does things its own way, it is safe to assume that nearly every tobacco store offers all of the products and services that I will break down in this post. Also, there are probably more tobacco stores in each Italian city than there are Starbucks in New York! Tobacco stores are literally on every block in places like Milan and Rome, and every town – no matter how small – will have at least one tobacco store that operates like I’m describing in this post.
What Do Italian Tobacco Stores Sell Other than Cigarettes?
Italian tobacco stores sell very random but helpful things – especially if you’re traveling. While they naturally sell cigarettes and other smoking products, Italian tobacco stores also sell bus tickets, SIM cards, maps, snacks and drinks, and more.
Many Italian phone providers offer very affordable phone services, and usually they operate on a pay-as-you-go basis. You can add €20 euros to your SIM card and use the data until it runs out, for example. When your data runs out, you can technically go to one of the phone providers stores and refill it there, but there is no need – you can do this at any tobacco store in Italy! You can both buy SIM cards and refill them at any tobacco store in Italy.
- TABACCHERIA PRODUCTS - Bus Tickets SIM Cards Maps Snacks Drinks Tourist Info Gossip & More!
In addition to that, tobacco stores also sell local public transportation tickets. While major cities with broad transportation systems offer payment via mobile wallet, smaller towns and municipalities do not. You need to buy these tickets either in a tobacco store or a ticket office. I have always found the tobacco stores to be even more helpful and convenient to visit than the ticket offices, making this a great piece of information!
Tobacco stores have incredible amounts of knowledge about their towns and the best places to go, as they talk to so many customers on a local basis! Many customers have a favorite tabaccheria and form relationships with the workers there. As a result, the workers get the inside scoop on some of the best things going on in their city at any given time! If you ever need directions or help, these are a fantastic resource.
Hopefully this tobacco store travel hack works well for you while you travel in Italy. I have found that Italian tobacco stores come in handy a lot while traveling in Italy, and I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t know about all the helpful services they can provide!