Posted 16 January 2005 - 05:08 PM
I am a type I diabetic with 11 months of gluten free experience. Also a physician, I am probably well suited to be Gluten free since I have 35 years of strict diet experience. We have just returned from 10 days of travel thru Sicily and then finally Rome. The areas of Sicily were on the South coast (Sciacca, Sambucca, Menfi, etc.), and then Palermo. English was generally useless, and we muddled thru with a bit of Spanish, and my dictionary. Here is what I did, and I am confident that in 10 days I was never poisoned by Gluten. I brought two sleeves of BiAglut spaghetti, three boxes of Pamela's cookies, and two loaves of vacuum sealed gluten free bread. I had a Sicilian friend write instructions on note cards, describing my condition, foods and additives to avoid, foods that are acceptible, and instructions for cooking my spaghetti. I weighed my spaghetti on a tiny scale at the hotel, and put the portion I wanted in a freezer bag before going out. I generally asked for a Pomodoro sauce (tomato). I then had a salad with olive oil and wine vinegar, and a meat or fish dish usually grilled. If you don't like fish, watch out for grilled fish, they grill the whole fish, head, eyes, skin and all! Sicilians are very proud of the fishing industry, and the fish is tasty. Although risoto (rice) is common in Sicilian cookery, I did not find menu items very often that were rice based. In more expensive and cosmopolitan restaurants (like in Palermo) there are potato dishes, but by that time I was really into my own pasta so I did not order these. All Italians seem to be familiar with gluten sensitivity, and they did not make any mistakes that I could see. (That is not true here in the US!). Gelato (ice cream) is superb, and the fruit, especially the oranges (arancia) are great. Of course wine is everywhere and excellent, so you won't miss beer at all. More complex pasta dishes are off limits (ravioli, lasagna, etc.) unless you stay in one area long enough to commission your pasta to be cooked into such a dish, and they would be willing to do that since these are the friendliest people on earth! I did not have time to explore how locals with celiac disease make out, but I think they carry their own pasta like me, since there was never any suprise at my bag of pasta! Rome was a slam dunk after Sicily since almost all the waiters there were bi-lingual. I still used the cards, but then we discussed it in English as well. Your luggage will be lighter for the trip home, so more room for gifts and souveneirs! Buono notta!