Eating Gluten-free in italy
In short, you can find SUPER GOOD places to eat gluten-free here. Don’t hesitate and book your next vacation or city break to Italy.
“Senza glutine”…. the magic words of Italy. My husband and I fell in love with Italy as a vacation destination because of its climate, delicious food and beautiful sights. But why we almost prefer to go there every year anyway? It is because it is a gluten-free paradise. You can walk in almost anywhere unprepared and say “senza glutine.” Come across something you can’t eat gluten-free? No problem. Walk next door or across the street, chances are very good that you will find something either way.
Gluten-free food in Italy? Before I delved a bit into destinations suitable for me as a celiac, I never would have hoped Italy would be one of them. In fact, in retrospect, Italy turns out to be my number one destination for a gluten-free vacation. Never did I expect that in the country where wheat is one of the most commonly used ingredients ( just think of the pastas and pizzas) I could be perfectly fine with my celiac disease.
Italy has been my first real gluten-free vacation. And the first time was right on target. I could literally go almost anywhere. Almost everywhere it was indicated that allergens and intolerances could be taken into account. And if it was not indicated? That was not always a problem. We discovered the tastiest places just by walking in and saying “senza glutine”.
How well can you eat gluten-free in Italy?
I have already convinced you, but to really convince and inspire you I would like to share my own experiences.
Gluten-free Italian pizza!
In the Netherlands I hardly came across any pizzerias where I could eat a gluten-free pizza. If it was even possible, they could not give a 100% guarantee that there would be no cross-contamination. As a result, I limited myself to gluten-free pizza 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 that was where we were going to eat. I asked if it was possible to order gluten-free pizza. Then a world opened up for me. Dozens of pizzas in all shapes, sizes and flavors. You couldn’t get me any happier! A few pictures later to get an impression of the food.
Gluten-free food in Italy?
Where and how to find Italian restaurants gluten-free?
When you’re on vacation, of course it’s great to eat out. For my husband and me, that’s one of the best moments on vacation. Enjoying delicious food. As I often say, in Italy I always dare to go out on the road unprepared. 9 times out of 10, a “senza glutine” entry is more than sufficient and you’ll either get a “si” or a “no”.
Are you not so keen on surprises yourself or always want to be sure? Then it’s handy to know how or where to find a restaurant where you can go anyway! For this I personally use the free Italian app “Mangiare Senza Glutine”. This one has not once disappointed me! All restaurants are officially approved by the Italian Coeliac 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! That way fnding gluten-free Italian restaurants won’t be a big challenge.
My own experiences with eatin gluten-free in Italy
Fortunately, it turned out that Italy is 100% gluten-friendly. In small villages, big cities, it doesn’t matter where you are. You can always specify that you eat “senza glutine” and you’re set. We did some preliminary research in the beginning before going on a day trip, but after just a few days we went everywhere unprepared. That’s how much confidence we had in Italian gluten-free cuisine. We visited several villages, towns and regions. As mentioned earlier, you can really go anywhere, but should you go to any of the following villages and cities, you know you’re in for a treat there too!
- Ledro Lake
- San Marino
- Molina di Ledro
- Baia Domizia
- Riva del Garda
In Milan, Venice, Pompeii and Rome, they speak English very well compared to the smaller towns and villages. Fortunately, again, language need not be a barrier here. In fact, “Senza glutine” is more than enough. The big tourist cities are really literally full of restaurants where everything is really possible. In Milan, I also ended up eating my first gluten-free tiramisu. And it was HUGE. For a city like Milan, it also represented very little in terms of price.
Venice was also very good. Several restaurants and even supermarkets where we could buy some gluten-free products in between. Tip: try to find some restaurants outside the center of Venice. Are just as tasty and often much cheaper!
Also at our campsite where my husband and I slept it was very well organized. We stayed at a campsite on Lake Ledro (Lago di Ledro in Molina di Ledro). Also at the campsite we could go to the restaurant and order gluten-free pizza or other dishes very well. Also here they spoke very good English and helped very well. Unfortunately, not every campsite is always convenient to eat at the restaurant. Somehow it was not always easy. Camping al Sole in Lake Ledro (Lake Garda region) and Hu Montescudaio in Montescudaio (Tuscany) have so far been the only campsites with really good gluten-free offerings. By the way, you can always find plenty of gluten-free products in the supermarkets at the campsites!
Celiac Association in Italy
Eating gluten-free in Italy is almost no challenge because of the very recognizable AIC logo.
The celiac association in Italy is called AIC and stands for “Associazione Italiana Celiachia.” Recognizable by their red logo. I would keep that in mind when you are there, because chances are very good that you will see it somewhere at a restaurant, store or bakery, for example. So you will find this not only at restaurants, but also hotels, guest houses, vacation homes, amusement parks, pubs or roadside restaurants.
When you come across these, you know you’ve come to the right place and can enjoy a carefree meal. Before they hand out an official inspection, a business must meet many strict rules. Including taking a course on celiac disease and gluten-free eating and experiencing periodic inspections. Thus, such an inspection is not given lightly.
Below you can see a few pictures of their logo at some restaurants I visited myself.
Lesson in Italian gluten-free
Are you dining out in Italy? I would almost dare to say with 100% certainty that preparation is actually not necessary, but still, it can always be useful to know a few Italian words or phrases to make it known that you need to eat gluten-free. Now I almost dare say that “senza glutine” is actually sufficient, but you never know! Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where the language barrier is really too great.
|Spelt products||Prodotti di farro|
|I am a celiac patient. This means that I get sick if I eat anything containing wheat, oat, barley or rye flour.||Sono un paziente celiaco. Ciò significa che mi ammalerò se mangio qualcosa che contiene farina di frumento, avena, orzo o segale.|
|Does this product contain wheat, oats, barley or rye?||Questo prodotto contiene grano, avena, orzo o segale?|
|Can you tell me if this dish contains wheat flour?||Potete dirmi se questo piatto contiene farina di frumento?|
|Do you bind the sauce with wheat flour or corn flour?||Addensare la salsa con farina di frumento o farina di mais?|
|Please without sauce if this is bound with wheat.||Preferibilmente senza salsa se legato con grano.|
|I need to eat gluten bread. Will you toast this bread for me? Please in a separate grill or oven. If you do not have this, can you clean the oven thoroughly beforehand?||Devo mangiare pane senza glutine. Vorresti tostare questo pane per me? Preferibilmente in una griglia o in un forno separati. Se non si dispone di questo, è possibile pulire a fondo il forno in anticipo?|
|Will you use clean knives, boards and other kitchen utensils to prepare my meal? This is in connection with cross-contamination.||Usi coltelli, assi e altri utensili da cucina puliti per preparare il mio pasto? Ciò è dovuto alla contaminazione incrociata|
|Do you take cross contamination into account?||Tieni conto della contaminazione incrociata?|
|Do you sell gluten-free food?||Vendi cibo senza glutine?|
|I would like to purchase gluten-free food.||Vorrei acquistare del cibo senza glutine.|
Gluten-free food in Italy: supermarkets
In Italy, you can also find gluten-free products in all supermarkets. You also have a Lidl here which is very good. So very ideal if you have a camping vacation or vacation home/villa. I was especially pleasantly surprised when I came across the Coop in Riva del Garda with a gluten-free section that was truly amazing! Below is a picture of the shelf. I encountered products here that I had not encountered before in the Netherlands. I bought a lot and went back several times to do my shopping. Of course, on the way back (we were in the car anyway) I stuffed the entire trunk! To this day, I still haven’t found buns in Holland that taste as good as the ones from Coop in Italy.
Final verdict eating gluten-free in Italy
As you can see, eating gluten-free in Italy is no problem at all. The selection is very extensive, diverse and very tasty. It makes little difference whether you are in a small village or a big city. Otherwise you can always fall back on a supermarket or McDonald’s of course. So are you touring by car and nothing prepared? Then you will be more than fine in the land of pasta and pizza.
Haven’t found the ideal gluten-free vacation yet? Then feel free to look further!