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challenges of Gluten-free dining

Last time I was in Italy, I enthusiastically ate (and drank) everything, that was graciously placed in front of my husband & I. Since then, I've been diagnosed with Celiac disease. Any guidance on how to equip myself & avoid the landmines? I'm a Scot, married to an American & I'm conscious that parts of Europe are more attuned to dietary needs than the USA has traditionally been. But does this apply to Italy?
Any help will be very much appreciated!
Libby

Posted by
219 posts

While I cannot yet speak from personal experience as we will be in Italy next summer, all of my research on this forum and others indicates that Italian eateries as a whole are well versed in serving Celiacs safely. Somewhere (probably this forum) I read that all children in Italy are tested for Celiac as a matter of course. Reportedly the country as a whole is in tune with the gluten-free needs of those with Celiac. Do a search on this forum and you will find plenty of info.

I have found quite a few restaurants in the areas we are visiting, that are dedicated gluten free. Many of them I found here: https://glutenfreetravelsite.com/

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for prompt responses to my wee plea... BIG PLEA... for help. You've provided considerable info and, more importantly, have given this foodie the confidence that she can enjoy eating her way around Italy, again, with some impunity! .....the accompanying drinks were never a problem :)
Libby

Posted by
13211 posts

I have been gluten-free most of my life*, and eat very well in Italy. Salads, grilled vegetables as antipasti, prosciutto e melone, risotto, polenta, grilled fish, layered eggplant dishes, . . .It is all good.

I have never tried the gluten-free pasta, as I never developed a taste for that dish. But I know it is on offer at some restaurants. Since the sauces in Italy are not thickened with flour (as they often are in France) you are generally OK, but you might want to ask to be sure.

The grocery stores in Venice, at least, usually have a gluten-free section with an assortment of cookies and crackers and other snacks. And then of course there is gelato.

Breakfast at a hotel or small B and B is the hardest part, so I carry my own home-made granola to eat with the milk or yogurt they provide. My husbandis happy to eat my share of the croissants or other breakfast breads offered.

  • I do on occasion cheat a bit, and Venice is one of the places I do that. I love Fritti Misti ( mixed fried seafood, generally calamari and shrimp) and occasionally indulge.
Posted by
11613 posts

Some restaurants have gluten-free pasta on hand, some request 24-hours' notice. It is true that waitstaff and chefs almost unanimously know how to handle requests for gluten-free foods, either substituting ingredients or guiding you toward gluten-free options. Many times when I request gluten-free foods, the chef comes out to discuss what he/she can prepare.

Posted by
445 posts

I am a Celiac as well. I carry plastic dining cards from Triumph Dining Cards in several languages when I travel and have never had a problem. Celiac disease is very well know in Italy.

Posted by
1002 posts

I was diagnosed with Celiac disease a long time ago and I'm one of those rare people who never knowingly consume anything containing gluten. I try to relax a tiny bit when traveling in Europe, but I still exercise considerable discretion (I get pretty sick if I don't). I have never been totally unable to find something I could eat, and sometimes have been very pleasantly surprised by how accommodating some places can be. I never seek out gluten-free-only restaurants. I try to carry a card in the local language explaining the problem and what I can't eat, but I don't use it much. Most of the time, they know what I need and can suggest options. Now, I don't always get to eat the same glorious food that my husband can eat. Oh, watching him eat bread in France really sucked! But I'd rather be healthy and I can eat all the cheese and meat and chocolate and macrons and wine and ... you get the picture. :)
I found Italy to be the easiest - they really do get it better than most other European countries. Be careful about cross contamination (ask appropriate questions and be nice!).
Hope this is helpful.

Posted by
11292 posts
Posted by
11613 posts

Mike, you already have a thread started with this question.

Posted by
3 posts

I found Italy quite easy to eat gluten free in. There is supposedly the highest number of celiacs in Italy than anywhere else! I found that with a language card (for ordering in restaurants) and a few phrases in Italian, I was easily able to avoid gluten and had a great 2 week trip.

Posted by
11613 posts

I am not sure there is a higher number of people with celiac disease in Italy, but I do know that children in Italy are tested for gluten tolerance in their first year of school, so that may bump up the statistics (but not the actual number) compared to other countries.