Gluten-free eating in Italy? Before I delved a little into destinations that were suitable for me as a celiac patient, I never would have dared hope that Italy would be one of them. In fact, in retrospect, Italy turns out to be my number one destination for a gluten-free vacation. I never expected that in the country where wheat is one of the most commonly used ingredients (pasta/pizza) I would be able to find the perfect place with my celiac disease. Italy was my first real gluten-free vacation. And the first time was right on target. I could literally go almost anywhere. Almost every place indicated that allergens and intolerances could be taken into account. Even if it wasn’t indicated on the menu, but you asked the staff, it was no problem.
Gluten-free Italian pizzas!
In the Netherlands, I came across almost no pizzerias where I could eat a gluten-free pizza. If it was possible at all, they couldn’t give a 100% guarantee that there would be no cross-contamination. As a result, I limited myself to gluten-free pizzas from the supermarket freezer. On our first night out for dinner in Riva del Garda, it was an instant hit. We were walking a bit through the center until we saw a menu that said “vegetarians and celiacs friends”. Of course, I had immediately decided that was where we were going to eat. I asked if it was possible to order gluten-free pizza. Then a world opened up to me. Dozens of pizzas in all shapes, sizes and flavors. You couldn’t get me happier! Here are a few photos to give you an impression of the food.
Gluten-free eating in Italy?
Where and how to find restaurants?
When you’re on vacation, it’s of course great to eat out. For my husband and me, this is one of the best moments of our vacation. Enjoying delicious food. As I often say, in Italy I always dare to go on the road unprepared. 9 times out of 10, a “senza glutine” mention is more than sufficient and you either get a “si” or a “no”.
Are you not so keen on surprises or do you always want to be sure? Then it’s handy to know how or where to find a restaurant where you can eat well anyway! For this I use the free Italian app “Mangiare Senza Glutine”. This one has not disappointed me once! All restaurants are officially approved by the Italian Celiac Association and all the restaurants we visited through the app had the official logo on the door. Always a nice feeling to come across that! For Apple, you can download the app through the App store and all Android users can find it in the Google Play Store of course!
Fortunately, it turned out that Italy is 100% gluten-friendly. In small villages, big cities, it doesn’t matter where you are. Your side always indicates that you are eating “senza glutine” and you’re set. We did some preliminary research in the beginning before going out for the day, but after just a few days we went everywhere unprepared. That’s how much confidence we had in Italian gluten-free cuisine. We visited various villages and towns. As mentioned earlier, you can really go anywhere, but if you go to one of the following villages and towns, you know that you’re in luck there too!
In Milan, Ventia, Pompeii and Rome they spoke very good English compared to the smaller villages and towns. Fortunately, once again the language need not be a barrier here. “Senza glutine” is in fact more than sufficient. The big tourist cities are really literally full of restaurants where everything is really possible. In Milan, I finally ate my first gluten-free tiramisu. And it was delicious. For a city like Milan, it was also very little in terms of price.
Venice was also very good. Various restaurants and even supermarkets where we could buy some gluten-free products. Tip: try to find some restaurants outside the center of Venice. They are just as good and often much cheaper!
It was also very well organised at the campsite where my husband and I stayed. We stayed at a campsite at Lake Ledro (Lago di Ledro in Molina di Ledro). At the campsite we could also go to the restaurant and order gluten-free pizzas or other dishes. English was also spoken very well here and they were very helpful.
Are you going to eat out in Italy? I can almost say with 100% certainty that no preparation is actually necessary, but it can always be useful to know a few Italian words or phrases in order to make it clear that you must eat gluten-free.
- Senza glutine / Gluten-free
- Ho la celiachia / I have celiac disease
- Prodotti senza glutine / Gluten-free products
- Grano / Wheat
- Frumento / Wheat
Gluten-free food in Italy: supermarkets
In Italy you can also go to all the supermarkets to find gluten-free products. You also have a Lidl here that is very convenient. So very ideal if you have a camping vacation or vacation home/villa. I was particularly pleasantly surprised when I came across the Coop in Riva del Garda, which had a gluten-free section that I could only dream of! Below is a picture of the shelf. I came across products here that I had never come across before in the Netherlands. I’m also right size and have been back here several times to do my shopping. Of course for the return trip (we were with the car anyway) the trunk filled! To this day, I still haven’t found buns in the Netherlands that were as good as those at the Coop in Italy.
Gluten-free food in Italy
As you can see, gluten-free food is no problem at all in Italy. The selection is very extensive, diverse and very tasty. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a small village or a big city, you can go almost anywhere. Otherwise, you can always fall back on a supermarket or McDonald’s, of course. So are you touring by car and not prepared for anything? Then you’ll manage more than fine in the land of pasta and pizza.
Is there anything missing from Italy according to you? Let me know and I’ll add it! Feel free to contact me.