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Italy...suggestions?
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I'm flying to Italy in 3 weeks, have yet to venture out since being diagnosed with celiac so this should be an adventure! I guess I'm looking for more snack ideas than anything...and any great restaurants anyone has tried? I'll be in the Tuscan region - Florence, Venice, Siena, Cinque Terre. Also...due to my serious issues with colitis lately, I'm pretty much on a "mush" diet, which works fine once I get to Italy...but what on earth can I take for the 20+ hour plane ride that will stay for that long? Ahh the joys of being a newbie!! ;)

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I've been to Italy many times and three times since my diagnosis 1.5 years ago. It is known to be one of the easiest countries in which to travel with celiac. I'm getting ready for a trip to Paris and then Croatia myself so unfortunately have no time to give you specific resto recs. To me the tricky part of travel is the airports and flights because of delays, etc. I take crackers, nuts, Skittles, Kind bars, a few slices of bread and peanut butter. Usually I do not eat that much processed food but it can be tricky on flights that disallow cheese, meats and so on. I also take two loaves of bread each trip for making into sandwiches, etc. at our destination.

Frequent markets for fresh vegetables and fruit.

Are you staying in apartments? That is easier as you can prepare your own meals. I have been to every place you mention - you are sure to fall in love with Italy! Nice time of the year, too - far less crowds.

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Once you get to Italy it will be no problem...but the international flights are a pain. The last international trip I took (24+ hours of travel time door-to-door) I took my Kindle and a backpack full of food!

I had apples slices, carrot and celery sticks, beef jerky, some gluten-free cookies, peanut M&Ms, Kind bars, hard boiled eggs (for first thing in the morning when we took off), tuna in a pouch in case I was stranded and needed more protein, some gluten-free crackers (Schar I think...), boullion cubes, etc. I know of people who've frozen chicken or other types of meals in small containers and then eaten them after they'd thawed on the trip...I wasn't that desperate because we were heading back to the US and I knew if I ran into trouble in DC or San Francisco I'd be calling friends to come get me and the food situation wouldn't be nearly so dire.

I packed everything in small amounts and in either ziploc bags or small disposable plastic containers (like the eggs.) As I finished items I would pitch the container or bag. I also brought a few plastic spoons just in case I would need them.

I passed through security without a single problem despite the picnic in my bag (even in Munich, Germany which is notorious for having tons of security hurdles...) I picked up a Go Picnic meal at one of the newstands in DC -- my first ever. Not great but at least I had a little more variety and didn't have to worry about not having anything to eat on the flight from DC to SFO -- which was good because they actually ran out of food about 3/4 of the way back through the rows. The people all around me were pissed off they couldn't even get some overpriced Pringles!

Basically you have to look at what you can eat and then try to fit that into small packages that won't arouse suspicion from security if at all possible. I was even tempted to get a note from my doctor to explain why I had all the food but didn't get around to it.

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All good tips so far.

Remember to download some Italian phrases regarding having Celiac and take them with you to show to waiters, etc.

Also, pharmacies or drug stores can usually be found quite easily in Italy and often stock a selection of gluten-free food (pasta, bread, snacks, etc). I saw this prior to being diagnosed myself and wondered "why do they have a small display of groceries HERE?"

Well, it's because Italians take care of their Celiac citizens better than just about anyplace in the world (including testing, subsidies, etc). They treat it as a real public health concern.

Because they test each child, many more are properly diagnosed. Awareness breeds familiarity which equals great support for you!

Have a blast. We can't wait to go back.

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I just spent a week in Italy, returning home last week. Other than choosing well, the key to my success was an Imodium before lunch, daily. It helped with the anxiety of an "issue". If you are touring, bathrooms are few and far between, with long lines and no toilet paper. Imodium is a must, in my opinion.

Most grocery stores or restaurants are familiar with "Gluten Free" or "Celiac" - it transcends the language barrier. But, Google on line "I am Celiac" in Italian and print it out. I never used mine, and had great pasta's and wonderful service. But I was on an arranged tour and our wonderful tour guide made previous arrangements for me. Dining on our own was not an issue either.

And a Caprese Salad will be your best friend for lunch.

Enjoy your stay and savor your experience. It's a lovely place. :)

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Thanks for all the great advice! We will be mostly traveling on our own, so I'd imagine I'll use the "celiac" card often! Unfortunately, immodium doesn't touch my "D" issues, no matter how much I take! Could make for an interesting 10 days... :)

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