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2 things not to do when you are gluten-free on a trip to Italy

Updated: 1 hour ago

A picture of the colosseum in Rome, Italy
Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Don’t come with super high expectations - Embrace Flexibility

You may be disappointed, or your plans may change. When you have Celiac Disease, Italy is often thought of as a Mecca for gluten-free food. We dream of it and see amazing pictures of delicious food. Although it is wonderful, you can end up with some bad experiences. Tempering your expectations will help you go with the flow if disappointment hits. We went to one place that said they couldn’t serve us, and another had undercooked food. We were disappointed but were able to move on. We also focused on the great things we saw and the wonderful food we ate.

Don’t wing it - Always have a backup plan

Because plans may change, you need to have a backup plan in mind. Buy extra food from places you love.  Have snacks and food at your hotel or apartment. Grocery stores or fresh food markets are great places to find safe food.

Picture of a hand holding an aperol spritz. In the background is the Roman forum and the Victor Emmanuel Monument
Drinks at our hotel over looking the Roman Forum

Because Rome is very celiac-aware, hotels have great options. We stayed at an amazing hotel just outside the Roman Forum near the Colosseum. Residenza Maritti is a family-owned and run hotel with shared kitchen spaces. For breakfast each morning, they had gluten-free packaged bread and muffins. In the evening on the terrace, they also had a lovely charcuterie plate that we could enjoy when we missed a meal.

Practical Tips for Gluten-Free Travel in Italy:

✅ Ask questions when you visit restaurants

We think of Italy as a magical gluten-free wonderland, but we still need to bring our skill set for dining out with us to Italy. You still have to ask all the questions. Check out my tips for finding safe restaurants and download my restaurant card.

✅ Bring your translation cards

Things get lost in translation, and these cards will help eliminate any misunderstandings. I recommend cards from Legal Nomads or Equal Eats (use code SUKI for 10% off)

✅ Trust but verify

At one restaurant, we were served 2 pizzas and we asked “Are these gluten-free?” The server looked at us with horror, they were not. If we hadn’t asked, we would have gotten sick. When you are on vacation you may be tired, hot or hungry, but you need to still take care to verify the safety of the food.

✅ Buy extra food at places you love

a picture of the inside of a grocery store that is 100% gluten-free
Gluten-Free Grocery Store

We went to a dedicated gluten-free bakery, New Food Gluten Free, and that was a great place to pick up extra croissants or an extra sandwich or pastry for later.

In Rome, we walked by the fresh market at Campo del Fiori, and could have picked up beautiful fruit or vegetables. I also highly recommend making a stop at the dedicated gluten-free grocery store, Celiachiamo Lab.  They have several locations, and they also sell freshly baked pastries, pizza, and sandwiches. If you have a place with a kitchen, you can stock up on snacks, bread, and even frozen items.

✅ Work with an expert

Reach out to Catalin , Celiac in Italy who is an American Ex-pat who lives in Italy. She can help with local planning help.

✅ Enjoy your trip and soak in the history and scenery

Map out your trip and enjoy. One travel resource I recommend is Rick Steves Audio tours. You can download the app and listen to audio tours of most of the sites in Europe. It is an easy way to enjoy the sites.

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