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Traveling To Italy
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I will be traveling to Italy next April. From what I've researched, Italy is a very friendly place for Celiacs, so I'm not too worried about where to eat.  Just wondering if there are any better or worse places to stay in regards to having gluten-free options.  Also, are there any hotels, B&B's, hostels that cater better to gluten-free needs.  Thanks!

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Where in Italy? We go there regularly. Be careful when ordering gelato - often there is cross contamination but many flavors also contain gluten. When we travel I use restaurant cards in that country's language.

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I will be traveling to Italy next April. From what I've researched, Italy is a very friendly place for Celiacs, so I'm not too worried about where to eat.  Just wondering if there are any better or worse places to stay in regards to having gluten-free options.  Also, are there any hotels, B&B's, hostels that cater better to gluten-free needs.  Thanks!

 

I have just returned from Italy, mostly cities (Rome, Florence) and smaller towns. We did not try any villages, nor any tourist resorts.

 

1. This was unexpected: I made a list of recommended restaurants before departure, and  they were all closed as though they were bankrupt. The surrounding restaurants were open as normal and no explanation was found.

 

2. I made a restaurant card, and it was not needed. Every waiter and shop-assistant understood the words "gluten free", or "sanza glutin".

 

3. They sell some gluten free food in their pharmacies, so its clearly heavily regulated. Perhaps because of their national regulations, the market competition for gluten free food in Italy is very weak, and their products taste truly awful. I'd recommend unpacking clothes and filling your luggage with food to be on the safe side - and especially so if you like moist food.

 

4. Something I take for granted when having gluten free snacks at home is my electric kettle (note: these are banned in many hotels and also difficult to buy in shops). This makes you more dependent on the hotel bar for things like coffee, which could present new issues. For example, I took soy milk from a supermarket to some of my hotel breakfasts, and I avoided bars that use the same machine for coffee and chocolate (i.e. chocolate powers often contain gluten).

 

5. A few restaurants (i.e. Marriott airport hotel) allow you to supply your own gluten free ingredients, such as pasta. This is presumably because the local mass-produced products tastes as bad as they do.

 

6. This goes against all expectations, for gluten and non-gluten dishes: We found that Italian pasta dishes are surprisingly bad by international standards (i.e. very salty) and we quickly learned to avoid them. Also, their rice is often overcooked. The best foods we found were all without recipe, such as plain grilled fish.

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We were in Milan in March of this year, and I was so pleased with how easy it was to eat. Our hotel offered gluten-free products as part of their "continental" breakfast -- granted it was just breads and crackers, but coupled with yogurt and meats and cheeses, I was happy. I've never been big on breakfast foods -- clearly my body knew something way back when!
 
In addition to the phrase senza glutine (which means without gluten), the following phrase is commonly understood:
 
"Io sono celiaca(female) / celiaco (male). This is roughly pronounced as “ee-oh soh-no chee-lee-ah-kah” or “chee-lee-ah-koh”."
 
Pharmacies, recognized by the green crosses, have gluten-free sections, as do grocery stores. Unlike the poster above, I found the food to be as good as anything available here. One great thing we did was buy proscuitto and cheese for great gluten-free appetizers. Lots of small stores also sell fresh fruit. 
 
Carrying cards is a great back-up, but I found saying Io sono celiaca was just as effective. Italy does have a great awareness of this issue, but I also found servers were not as aware as restaurant managers -- and that the servers always went to the managers for assistance (that could be a result of where we ate, or it could be the age of the servers).
 
Enjoy your trip!

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