Saturday, September 19, 2009

Powershopping in the mountains

Cismon del Grappa, on the border between Veneto and Trentino, consists of two to three rows of houses with the SS47 road and the Brenta river on one side and Montegrappa on the other. All morning the almost vertical mountainside casts deep shadows over the main street, where the main attractions include a bakery, a church, a pharmacy and a gelateria. Cismon del Grappa seems like a city with unbalanced age demography, where the inhabitants have plenty of time to enjoy the view, go for a walk and read a good book.

Therefore, I was rather surprised to observe shopping patterns in the city's supermarket. The supermarket was not particularly big or trendy with the usual discount solutions on the shelves, but it offered an excellent choice. This is where you buy oilcloth, plates and chairs along with sausage, bread and wine. And the pensioners' shopping carts were literally booming. While elderly Danish couples reel around with a can of tomatoes and a liter of semi-skimmed milk, the shoppers in Cismon were moving a mountain of goods.

Take the middle aged man and the elderly woman, probably his mother, heading the queue. They had two shopping carts each, and each cart was brimming. I counted 17 large bottles of soda, 6 x 6 litres of long-life milk, 10 glass jam, 10 liters of olive oil and 16 bags of coffee to mention but a few of the goods. Their bill came to more than 300 euros, and they were far from the only ones to take their fill.

Now it may be that the middle-aged man and the older woman were providing for a family with five children, or they may be dragging and carrying for a group of people, but I saw them as genuine mountain dwellers who are used to not having a 7-Eleven down the corner. When they go to town, stores are filled, and afterwards they may live for several weeks without contact with the outside world. Fascinating thought.

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