Welcome to a new series of gluten free country guides, starting with gluten free Italy. I have been writing coeliac city guides for some time now but suddenly realised that general gluten free country guides could be really useful for other coeliacs.
I used to live in Italy and I speak (slightly rusty) Italian so should be very well placed to give you some tips on being gluten free and travelling here. We have two trips planned this year and spent 5 weeks in Italy last year, so you will find lots of specific city guides too.
Let me start by saying gluten free Italy is easy. There is widespread awareness of coeliac disease and Italian children are tested as soon as they display any symptoms. There are dozens and dozens of dedicated gluten free bakeries, restaurants and shops scattered across the country and hundreds of AIC (Italian coeliac society) accredited restaurants.
In short, Italians understand what coeliac disease is and the associated requirements. Therefore you should feel confident that you are going to have a brilliant holiday in Italy and know you will find plenty of safe gluten free things to eat. Follow my tips below to help you get off to a flying start.
Coeliac Italian Phrasebook
A few handy Italian phrases to get you started. English is quite widely spoken in Rome, but at least you can communicate some key basic phrases if you are in a total jam.
Sono celiaca = I am coeliac (female) [pronounced “sono cheh-lee-ac-a“]
Sono celiaco = I am coeliac (man)
Senza glutine = gluten free [pronounced “sen-zah glue-tin-eh”]
My Gluten Free Italy City Guides
Before you travel, check out my website to see if I have already written a coeliac friendly gluten free guide for your Italian destination. These will save you time and effort as I have already rounded up the best gluten free spots and coeliac friendly eateries.
Below you will find links to my huge selection of coeliac friendly gluten free Italy city guides. From major cities like Rome and Florence, to regional guides such as Tuscany, there is something here for everyone. The guides are listed in alphabetical order. I am also working through a bit of a backlog, so bear with me while I get some new gluten free Italy guides up and running!
- Alassio Gluten Free Guide
- Cinque Terre and La Spezia Gluten Free Guide (coming soon)
- Cortona Gluten Free Guide
- Florence Gluten Free Guide
- Lake Como Gluten Free Guide (coming soon)
- Lake Garda Gluten Free Guide (coming soon)
- Lake Trasimeno Gluten Free Guide
- Lucca Gluten Free Guide
- Massa Gluten Free Guide
- Milan Gluten Free Guide (coming soon)
- Perugia Gluten Free Guide
- Rome Gluten Free Guide
- Sicily Gluten Free Guide (coming soon)
- Siena Gluten Free Guide
- Turin Gluten Free Guide
- Tuscany Gluten Free Guide
- Venice Gluten Free Guide
AIC – The Italian Coeliac Society
Another handy point of reference for coeliac travelers is the AIC. The AIC is the Italian coeliac society and they have some wonderful resources you can utilise when on the hunt for the best gluten free Italy finds.
They have both a website and an app, which list hundreds of coeliac safe restaurants, ones that have received AIC certification. These restaurants need to have demonstrated strict processes to prevent cross contamination and to ensure their food is safely gluten free before they can attain this accreditation.
Download the app onto your phone to quickly identify coeliac friendly restaurants close to your location. If you don’t want to download an extra app, then use the website to find some restaurants before you visit. You can even plot them onto your own Google maps to make life easy.
A general note about eating out in restaurants in Italy. In my experience, the large majority of restaurants in Italy offer some form of gluten free options. However, I always play it safe in mixed facility restaurants and take a local language coeliac travel card when I visit places. You can give this to the staff in the restaurant to read through and it will explain, in Italian, your dietary requirements and the importance of avoiding cross contamination. Here is a link to the Italian language version.
There are also plenty of dedicated gluten free eateries and AIC accredited ones, which you can finding using my gluten free Italy guides and the AIC website.
If you have opted for a self catering holiday, then you will be spoilt for choice by all the wonderful gluten free products available in Italy.
It’s always worth checking the AIC website to see if there are any fully gluten free shops or bakeries in the area you are staying (I found a TREASURE TROVE of a gluten free shop last year in Perugia…I’ve never seen so many varieties of fresh gluten free pasta).
Supermarkets are generally very well-stocked though and it will be cheaper to buy your gluten free products here. Recent supermarkets I have shopped at for gluten free products in Italy include: Pam, Coop, Auchan, Conad, Carrefour and Iper.
Hotels and B&Bs
Many hotels are very accommodating to coeliac guests, just give them some advance notice and they should be able to get some provisions in for you.
You will find a few AIC accredited hotels on the AIC website, plus there are a few fully gluten free B&Bs dotted around the country. We stayed at a couple of lovely coeliac friendly hotels on our last trip – Hotel Brunelleschi in Florence and Alpen Palace in the Dolomites – both were excellent (note both stays were hosted).