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I have just returned to the UK from a 2 week stay in Italy.  Before travelling, I had read that Italy is a great place for gluten free food, and I was disappointed.

 

Compared to the British, it is more common for Italians to know what Gluten-free (sanza-Glutin) is a real issue.  Not a single Italian waiter or shop assistant was unfamiliar with the term. That was the good news.

 

1. Stalls regularly refused to serve me ice cream. Apparently, only their sorbets are gluten free. Back home, I attribute these kinds of statements as a confusion about whether gluten is in milk or wheat, but in a hot country where everyone is supposed to understand the meaning of "sanza-Glutin", I was very disappointed. Perhaps Italian ice creams all contain wheat? (P.S. I also could not find any soy-based ice creams in Italy)

 

2. Gluten-free breads are more commonly sold in their pharmacies (Farmacy) than in regular shops. Sadly, this regulated environment has significantly reduced market competition, resulting in very expensive readily-available food that is truly revolting. I brought one packet of Italian bread home with me, and it is inferior to UK supermarket own-brands (and in the UK it is cheaper too).

 

3. Before starting my trip, I marked on a map a list of Internet-recommended Italian restaurants for gluten free food. Each of those that I visited, had closed its doors, seemingly bankrupt. The best food I found in Italy was grilled fish (simple, without a recipe) or meals at the Marriott.  For the most part, the gluten free options in restaurants were nasty. However, my partner who is not gluten intolerant, assures me that their food was equally disgusting. 

 

When I was young, the UK was the butt of food jokes. My experience suggests Italy is now the place to avoid.

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I am in Italy a lot and have had to use my restaurant card several times. But then we are adventurous travelers and really get off the beaten path into non-touristy villages, etc.

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