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gluten free in Milan...possible or pipe dream?

We will be in Milan this summer, traveling with a gluten-free teen. Not celiac, but gluten intolerant, so a tad less restrictive.
Anyone have any luck on their travels through Italy with gluten-free pasta, etc. options?

Posted by
13081 posts

Gluten free products are readily available everywhere, including regular supermarkets. I know lots of celiacs in Italy, including members of my family. When I was growing up there I never heard of that word (celiaco in italian) and if somebody mentioned the word most people would probably have thought they were talking about Ciriaco De Mita, a famous politician in the 1980's. But now, if you see how many gluten free products they have, you'd think that there is an epidemic of celiacs in Italy. Actually believe it or not, the Italian National Health Service (SSN) reimburses celiacs for their gluten free products. All they have to do is give the Italian SSN card to the cash register at check out, and the amount of gluten free products is paid directly by the SSN through the card and the amount is deducted by the monthly allowance the national health service gives each celiac. If you go to a restaurant, tell them you are a celiac (celiaco in Italian, the first 'c' is soft as in church) and you need something SENZA GLUTINE. They'll direct you to the right food and maybe prepare something special for you gluten free (that's what my cousin does and many Italian restaurants seem to keep some gluten free pasta in their cupboard.

Posted by
11613 posts

Italy is one of the easiest countries in which to eat gluten-free. If you don't like the taste of gluten-free pasta, there are tons of other things to order, just let the waiter know. You can stock up on snacks from grocery stores or pharmacies, and some hotels have gluten-free cereals, etc. for breakfast.

Posted by
2846 posts

I am gluten-sensitive and Italy is where I find it easiest to eat. I skip pasta and pizza rather than try to find gluten-free versions. I don't care for the carbs anyway. The salads, vegetable dishes and meat and fish are so delicious and not covered in heavy flour-based sauces. If I do want cars I just order risotto or polenta. That way we can go to regular restaurants and everyone is happy.

Posted by
28129 posts

Absolutely possible and by no means a pipe dream with just a little effort.

Posted by
4535 posts

A lot of Americans think Italian food equals pasta. That is simply wrong as you will discover. Pasta is just a course offering and the main dishes often have no pasta at all. This is even more true in northern Italy. So avoid such things and otherwise just take your regular dining out precautions and warnings to the waiter. It helps to have a card with the words written down so you can show the waiter and not have anything lost in translation.

Posted by
13 posts

My daughter has celiac disease and spent a semester in Florence. I was very concerned ,but she found Italians to be much more aware of gluten free meals tan American chefs. I have traveled with her on 2 occasions in Italy and also found this to be true. Have fun, we. Had cards in Italian that explained a gluten free diet but rarely needed them.

Posted by
29 posts

I travel with students every year, often to Italy. Two years ago we had a student with celiac disease and a number of other dietary restrictions. We found the Italians completely ready to work with her. The waiters took time to find out exactly what she could have, and would ask the chef detailed questions to make sure she could eat what they brought. Many sauces have a starch for thickening, for example, and they would check with the chef about the recipes. Our student found several new dishes she could eat, and did not get sick one time in ten days.

Spend some time researching povre Italiana cuisine-- foods like polenta and gnocci are made with alternative grains and may work for you.