eating gelato overlooking canal in italy while traveling gluten free italy.

Ultimate Gluten Free Italy Guide | How To Eat Gluten Free In Italy At Every Meal

Italy is one of my favorite countries to travel to for many reasons. Not only is it beautiful in its sights and scenery, and rich in culinary delights, but it is also a great country for many allergies. For those with Celiac disease or who are eating gluten free for other reasons, you might think that the country that’s famous for bread and pasta would be quite a challenge, but I’m happy to report that it is very gluten free friendly and brings another level of enjoyment! I have an entire blog post about traveling to Italy with food allergies, but this blog post will serve as your go-to resource for how to eat gluten free in Italy anytime of day so you can make the most of your meals!

 

What is the AIC (Italian Celiac Association)?

As mentioned, Italy is very attentive to Celiac disease and gluten free needs. In fact, the AIC (Italian Celiac Association) plays a key role in ensuring a safe dining experience for those with Celiac disease. The AIC guidelines apply to various aspects of gluten-free dining, from ingredients to kitchen procedures and safeguards against cross-contamination. 

Another great protection for those who have Celiac disease is the AIC’s Eating Out Program, which aims to create Celiac-informed businesses and establishments, such as restaurants, pizzerias, hotels, ice cream parlors, etc.). 

For those businesses and establishments that are part of the Eating Out Program, they must meet these requirements:

Have taken an AIC organized or associated course on Celiac disease and gluten free diets.

  • Have completed necessary training and meetings/courses at their establishment with the Local AIC.  
  • Follow all AIC rules regarding the preparation and administration of gluten free foods to avoid the risk of contamination 
  • Use only gluten free ingredients in their cooking and establishment.
  • Periodically receive informational material from the AIC. 
  • Allow random checks by the Local AIC, which also does an in-depth inspection of the business no less than once per year. 
  • Have signed an agreement with the AIC in which the owner agrees to follow all of the above requirements.

 

Wheat Free vs. Gluten Free Italy

In Europe, when you see gluten free crust or pasta on the menu, it is essential to double-check and ensure this means that the gluten free option is also wheat free. Some people talk about going to Italy and eating gluten and/or wheat without the same issues that they have with these allergens in the United States. However, if you are Celiac or have a severe wheat allergy, I highly recommend you do NOT try this. 

Traveling to a foreign country and taking a risk like ingesting gluten or wheat is not worth ruining your vacation over. 

If you are gluten sensitive or intolerant and want to talk to your doctor about it, that’s another story. I personally wouldn’t risk your beautiful vacation just to try gluten or wheat, but definitely consult your doctor.

 

How To Eat Gluten Free in Italy

Now that you know that it is absolutely possible to enjoy a gluten free trip to Italy, let’s take a look at how you can eat gluten free at any time of day!

 

Breakfast

A great way to start your day in Italy is with gluten free pastries, which can be found in major cities like Rome and Florence. If you are having an early start to your day, you can pick them up the night before. If you are staying in a hotel, reach out before booking to confirm what gluten free items they’ll have at breakfast, whether gluten free bread, pastries, bagels, etc. You can also ask to make sure you can order items such as eggs, fruit, bacon, etc. 

 

Lunch

An Italian lunch can consist of many delicious dishes, including a primo (which includes a soup, pasta, or risotto dish), a secondo (which is a meat or fish based dish), and then a contorno (which is typically a vegetable side dish). Many Italian lunches are topped off with a light dessert and/or espresso. 

Like many Europeans, Italians enjoy longer lunches, so make sure to carve out the time in your schedule to truly experience an Italian lunch. 

When looking for gluten free and wheat free options, make sure you reach out to the restaurant ahead of time and make a reservation if you need to eat at certain times. Restaurants accredited by the AIC will have procedures in their kitchen and training with their staff. Don’t rely on every restaurant having options. Take the time to do your restaurant research and communicate with them ahead of time. 

You’ll notice that pizza was not listed above. While there are many places you can get pizza at lunch time, due to the wood fire pizza ovens taking a long time to heat up, many restaurants don’t have pizza ready until dinner time. However, you can still find pizza by the slice during lunch for a grab-and-go option, and also in more touristy areas. 

It’s typical for restaurants in Italy to close between lunch and dinner, so you’ll find most Italians don’t eat lunch any later than 2pm. Plan your day accordingly so you don’t end up hungry! As always, make sure you bring some of your own snacks just in case.

eating gluten free pizza in Italy.

Dinner

Dinner in Italy follows a similar set of courses as lunch. Of course, if you are looking to indulge in iconic wood-fired Italian pizza, now is the time! Again, make sure to double-check whether it is gluten free or wheat and gluten free. I highly recommend making a reservation for those highly sought after restaurants so you don’t have a huge wait time. Keep in mind, the dishes available on the menu will depend on what’s in season.

Gelato

There is no better way to end a travel day in Italy than with a delicious gluten free gelato! Gluten free gelato can often be found in larger cities, and you can even sometimes find gluten free cones to really amplify the sweet experience!

Gluten Free Italy Cooking Classes

Diving into the food culture further and learning to make the pizza and pasta you are eating each day can also be done gluten free. Do your research about various cooking classes and ask questions about cross-contamination before signing up. I’m happy to assist with these types of activities when providing my full service travel planning. 

All in all, Italy is a very gluten free friendly and Celiac accommodating country. With the right knowledge, restaurant research, and menu choices, you can savor the delicious flavors of Italian cuisine while eating gluten free. 

If you are looking for more assistance in selecting hotels that can accommodate your needs or are looking for apartments to stay in that offer their own kitchen, I can help you get set up in the best accommodation for your family with my full service travel planning. I also offer restaurant research to help make dining out less stressful (and more delicious!). 

Visit my contact page to book a consultation and learn more about my full-service travel planning and restaurant research services! I’d be thrilled to help you plan the perfect gluten free Italian adventure!

 

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