Although one my not think it, gluten free travel in Italy is amazingly easy, mainly because of the high instances of celiac disease in the country. Over 150,000 Italians have celiac disease and the population is very educated on it.
Learning the phrase “Io sono celiaco” certainly helped get the message across, but also carrying language cards and learning to read a few of the key words in Italian helped me survive a fuill two weeks without a problem.
In Italy celiac is a recognized medical condition, so look for gluten free food and products in drug stores (called “farmacias”), they often have a selection of gluten-free foods refrigerated. I found the variety and quality of gluten free foods to be very good – bread and rolls were available in medium and large cities and made self-catering easier. Bread made by Dr. Schaer was particularly good, and corn pasta is highly recommended.
Other foods for self catering include; prosciutto, cheese, fruit and don’t forget to treat yourself to gelato! The glorious heaps of gelato will tempt any sweet tooth and keep you wanting more! Just make sure to watch for shops using things like cookies and nuts to ‘decorate’ the tops of the gelato and that could pose a cross-contamination issue.
Breakfast will be the hardest meal of the day, as Italians enjoy pastries and bread for breakfast. Fruit and yogurt are good breakfast options and if you bring your own bread then you can also enjoy the marmalade and jam that usually come with breakfast. Cheese, meats (double check) and eggs are sometimes available.
In restaurants look for grilled meat, like fish and poultry, and some risotto dishes. Internet research may help in tracking down restaurants with gluten free pasta
It is helpful for someone who doesn’t speak Italian is to get a language card which explains your food needs. Here is a link to some free printable language cards:
Useful Words to Know:
- Gluten Free Food Tours (Rome)
Enjoy your time in Italy! It is a fascinating country and suprisingly easy for a Celiac/GF traveler. Please feel free to message me with any new resources and I’ll add them to this list. Safe Travels!