How to Use an Italian Pharmacy

Getting sick in a foreign country can be pretty scary. Most of us don’t think we will ever need to know how to use a pharmacy in Italy. While we have access to the military health clinic, it is not always open. It is not always convenient for those of you living outside of Vicenza to make a trip to post for some over-the-counter medicine. You may need to use an Italian Pharmacy.

General Information about the Italian Pharmacy

The Italian government regulates the times that pharmacies (in Italian farmacia) are open. There will always be an emergency pharmacy open 24-hours a day somewhere within a given area. Pharmacists most generally speak some English, so you will likely be able to communicate on some level.

The pharmacy in Italy does not much resemble a pharmacy in the states. You can’t shop and pick up your over-the-counter meds. For everything, you have to ask the pharmacist. This is true for everything from Tylenol to band aids. You may be able to get medicines that are prescription-type medication in the U.S., because the pharmacists’ training allow them to dispense some medicines based on your symptoms.

Pharmacy Hours

As I mentioned before, the government regulates pharmacy hours. If a pharmacy is open, you will see a lighted green cross. (It resembles the symbol for the Red Cross.)  Each pharmacy has either a digital screen or a printed card that shows the hours it is open. If closed, there will be a list of pharmacies that are open as well as the addresses (and possibly directions) to them.

You can also call the American military medical liaison at San Bortolo Hospital to get a list of open pharmacies.

Common Medication Names

Of course, the names of common medications are different in Italy than in america. Here is a list of several common medications that you may need to purchase at the pharmacy.

  • Tylenol (acetomin0phin) – paracetamol
  • Advil (ibuprofen) – ibuprofene
  • Imodium (antidiarrhea medicine) – Imodium
  • Pedialyte (hydrating drink) – Dicodral

Hopefully this is enough information to help you, if you need a pharmacy.

If you need some inspiration to get brave enough to go, you can read this funny story from the Mozzarella Mamma blog.




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