Hello everyone and HAPPY summer! This month I’m excited to share about my incredible experience as a celiac in Italy AND a summary of everything I learned at the National Canadian Celiac Association conference. First things first – what did I EAT in Italy!? Although I had heard from numerous people with varying levels of gluten intolerance that they can eat gluten in Italy, given how sick it makes me, I wasn’t willing to give up a day or more just to try some gluten-containing pasta or pizza. However, there were SO many delicious options for me – I never went hungry!
We flew in to Florence and stayed in the beautiful city for two nights. We spent our one full day there walking around, exploring the amazing sites. As much as Italy seems like it would be a celiac’s nightmare, it is actually a dream. In Florence we found an incredible restaurant that specialized in gluten-free pasta and pizza – Ciro & Sons, so we ate there both nights! I had the most delicious gluten-free calzones ever. WOW. Such a treat! They even have two separate kitchens for gluten and gluten-free to make sure everything is safe for people with celiac disease.
Breakfasts at the hotel we stayed at were wonderful – a great buffet with lots of safe options. They brought out gluten-free packaged baked goods too. Most places were accommodating for lunches as well – our one lunch wasn’t great, but it was safe for me. Keep in mind we were also traveling with our 16 month old, but the Italians LOVE babies, so it was easy to take him pretty much anywhere. Next, we stayed at the highly acclaimed biking hotel, the Belvedere Hotel, in Riccione. WOW. This place was not only incredible for families with small kiddos, but also for people with food allergies and intolerances. They had gluten-free chocolate-stuffed croissants (made by Schär). I haven’t been able to enjoy a croissant in over 8 years, so this was an amazing treat. Good thing we were on daily bike rides to keep up with the treats!
The staff at the Belvedere was amazing! I asked if the pasta they made for me was in separate water and they responded, “But of course!”. We did a gnocchi-making class at the hotel and they even provided my handsome hubby and I with all the ingredients and a separate safe space to make my own gluten-free gnocchi.
At the end of our time in Riccione, we enjoyed the most incredible lunch at a farm-to-table restaurant, i muretti. In addition to many delicious plates, they make their own fresh gluten-free pasta. WOW. I got to enjoy fresh gluten-free gnocchi and linguini carbonara. I was in heaven! We ended our trip with a weekend stay in Montalchino, Tuscany. We made a lot of our own food here, but I did get to enjoy some incredible food at a few of the restaurants in the beautiful small town (everywhere was very accommodating for celiacs).
In Italy, they even keep gluten-free food at pharmacies because they consider it a medical food. So cool – options everywhere!
Not surprising, I’d highly recommend travelling to Italy! For those of you with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you may think Italy could be an unfriendly place – with tempting morning croissants, pasta, pizza, etc…. But in fact, there were excellent options at many of the places we visited and Italian food labeling is top notch. I am now on a pasta and pizza detox – but I thoroughly enjoyed indulging while we were there! It was such a pleasure to be so well taken care of everywhere we went.