Gluten-free Travel in Italy
TRAVELLING ITALY AS A CELIAC
For those with Celiac disease, or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, the thought of travelling abroad can seem like a nightmare. It already is hard enough when dining out in your own country to explain your dietary restrictions, and this task can feel even more daunting when doing it in Italy – the land of pizza and pasta. Well, let me tell you this could not be further from the truth!
Italians take their food seriously, and genuinely believe everyone should be able to enjoy a meal whether they have food allergies or not. In Italy food is at the center of every gathering, whether it be a night out at your favourite pizzeria or sitting the local bar for an aperitivo after a long day at work, Italians take the time to enjoy their food and drink and that includes those with gluten sensitivities and allergies.
In fact, in all my years of travelling gluten-free in Italy, I have never come across an establishment that was unable to offer a gluten-free meal. This is because Italians, in general, are quite aware of food allergies and are tested for celiac disease at a young age. As an added bonus, if pasta is off the menu, and no gluten-free substitute is available, many restaurants offer risotto and usually a variety of in-season vegetable side dishes and locally-raised meat which as always are naturally gluten-free and full of flavour.
However, as many celiacs understand, gluten-free doesn’t always mean “gluten-free”. Unfortunately, not all establishments can ensure that no contamination will occur, and for those with celiac disease contamination can cause an attack just as easily as eating a dish made with gluten-containing ingredients. If you want to ensure a healthy, stress-free, gluten-free vacation in Italy I suggest you do the following:
Tips for Gluten-free Travel in Italy
- Always identify yourself as having celiac disease. For example: “Sono celiachia” – I am celiac. This will ensure your server knows you are celiac and they will inform the kitchen so that the necessary precautions can be taken to prevent any gluten contamination of your meal.
- Do your research. In Italy the Associazione Italiana Celiachia monitors and trains venues in order to guarantee gluten-free meals. You can find a list of the venues here and they even have an app called AIC Mobile that you can use to help find safe gluten-free dining establishments on the go!
- Be open to trying new foods. In case you find yourself off-the-beaten path in a small hilltop town or the restaurant you originally planned to dine at is closed, don’t be afraid to ask for “senza glutine” (without gluten). In general, most Italians are very aware of celiac disease and its dining requirements and even if they are not listed with the AIC many establishments will be able to offer you a gluten-free meal. However, this might mean trying something completely new, and putting your faith in your server. And don’t forget there are a multitude of wines to try on your trip to Italy!
If gluten-free travel in Italy still seems daunting, here at The Italian on Tour we can help! Personally having to avoid gluten like the plague, I understand the importance of dining “senza glutine” and when booking with us we can offer our expertise and knowledge to ensure your dining experience is one that will be remembered for all the right reasons! If you are interested in travelling with us check out our tours here or drop us a line at email@example.com.
On a side note don’t forget there’s always wine! Naturally delicious and completely Gluten-free