What you need to know about Italian pharmacies

What you need to know about Italian pharmacies

by Stripes Europe
Stripes Europe

Italian pharmacies, or “farmacie,” is a place you will need to be accustomed to when living in Italy. They are the first stop if you have a cold or an upset stomach. There are no chain pharmacies in Italy, but farmacie are universally recognizable by the green plus-sign. Pharmacies and their opening hours are regulated by law and operate on a “rota” system to ensure an open pharmacy for medical emergencies at any time. Every pharmacy will display a card identifying its own opening hours, emergency number and instructions for emergency services outside of the opening hours. 

When you walk into the farmacie, you will need to wait in line and talk to the pharmacist to get whatever you need for treatment, even if it is considered “over the counter.” Medications such as ibuprofen are not on open shelves, but you will not need a prescription to get them. 

Italian pharmacists are likely to ask a series of questions in order to discern which remedy best suits your problem. Since a stuffy nose might be allergies or a head cold, the treatments are different; Italian pharmacists are well qualified to provide advice about minor ailments and dispense appropriate prescriptions. Be prepared to talk to the pharmacist as if they were your doctor by describing symptoms and answering questions. 

As with doctors and dentists, pharmacists may speak limited English, so it is a good idea to come prepared with a translated list of symptoms or use a translation app on your mobile device. 

If you have a prescription from your Italian provider, simply hand it to the pharmacist and they will take care of the rest. Have your Codice Fiscale on hand, the pharmacist may ask to see it if the medication is something other than “over-the counter.” Note that opiates, narcotics or other closely regulated medications are difficult or sometimes impossible to get filled in Italy. 

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