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Florence, Italy- Gluten Free Paradise!
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Hello All,

After an excursion to Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice) I wanted to share some things for those searching in the future.  Some blogs that I had read before leaving made it sound as if I could walk into any restaurant and declare myself a celiac and they would at least not look at me as though I had three heads. Unfortunately, this is not true.  There were some people who had no idea what I was talking about, and it wasn't my Italian either.  But the good news is, if you prepare for your trip, you can eat like royalty.

 

This book was key in providing information: The Gluten Free Travel Guide to Italy

http://www.gfguideny.com/homegfguideitaly.html

 

But you can also find info online: Associazione Italiana Celiachia

http://www.celiachia.it/dieta/Dieta.aspx?SS=95

They provide lists of restaurants with addresses by region that have met their strict code of food preparation (we're talking laboratory, here)

 

Gluten free products are sold at the Farmacia, which you can locate easily on the street with it's visible green cross.  Not every Famacia will be equipped with gluten-free items, but the larger ones have a good selection and Italy's gluten-free products are quite good.  Still processed food, but for a short term trip, they do the trick to get you by when needed.

 

Florence was especially gluten free friendly with many places in the city center to eat.  If I could move there, I would.  It was that good.  I ate at one restaurant three times (in the three days I spent there): Ciro and Sons.  You had to order your gluten-free pizza a day in advance because they make them fresh for the time you are scheduled to come in.  Phenomenal.  They also sell a pizza dough mix, but I didn't have any room in my luggage. 

 

Normally off limit things I ate without incident while in Italy:

pasta, pizza, lasagna, gnocchi, polenta, garlic bread, fried items, alfredo sauce, cheesecake, tiered cake, ice cream (couldn't find a place with cones, though Grom Ice Cream Shop says they're getting them soon), CANNOLI (which was really a miracle, as I thought that would never happen again!).

 

The people making your food really get it.  I went into a deli in Venice for some salami preparing for a long train ride, and even the guy who waited on me there got it.  He opened a new package of meat and used a cutting board instead of the slicer, unprompted!  Can you believe it?!?!  Also, I wrote all of my hotels in advance about my condition and the all made a special effort to serve me food I was able to eat for breakfast.  Even hotels not listed in the book listed above.

 

There were a couple times I broke out in panic because I was really hungry and we had to hunt for a place to accommodate me, but on the whole, I learned how to plan better the longer we were there.

 

I hope that this is helpful to someone in the future!

Shellie

 

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