resort in italy overlooking water

Your Guide To Eating Dairy Free in Italy At Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Is Italy on your travel bucket list, but you’ve been hesitant due to your dairy allergy? This can seem daunting in the land of cheesy pizza and pasta, but with the right knowledge, preparation, and planning, you can enjoy a memorable Italian trip with confidence. In this guide, you’ll learn how to eat dairy free in Italy at breakfast, lunch, and dinner while savoring the authentic flavors. 

Looking for more information on traveling to Italy with food allergies? Check out my Italy country guide as well as my blog posts on traveling to Italy while eating gluten free, nut free, or egg free


Navigating Dairy Allergies in Italy

Italy is known for its rich culinary history, traditions, and fresh flavors. Pizza, pasta, and gelato? Sounds delicious! However, for someone with a dairy allergy, this can raise red flags. However, Italy, with its increasing awareness of food allergies and dietary restrictions, has come a long way in accommodating people with various needs, including those that are seeking dairy free options. 

While cheese is present on pizzas, in sauces, and in other Italian dishes, it is possible to visit Italy with a dairy allergy. There are a variety of fresh meat and fish dishes that tend to not utilize dairy that you can choose from. 

You can even opt for pizza without cheese, one of the rarity of dairy free cheese options, or fresh pasta dishes without certain sauces or cheese toppings. Traditional Italian spaghetti is typically a great option, but as always, it’s important to double-check with restaurants and chefs about their protocols regarding dairy in the kitchen and cross-contamination risks. 

While many dishes and pastas use olive oil as the base, cream is a popular base in Italian desserts and other dishes. Many Italian cities and regions are known for particular dishes, especially those cities along the water, so make sure you do your research ahead of time on the area you’ll be traveling to find dairy free dishes that are in alignment with your needs and safe foods. 

Throughout the country of Italy, there are great vegan restaurants to choose from, which can be a good route to find dairy free alternatives. However, watch out for cross contamination here as vegan does not always follow safe protocols for dairy free.

With EU Regulation 1169/2011 in place, milk is one of the substances that must be labeled if it is present in prepacked or non-prepacked foods. Dairy is also one of the allergies required to be marked in restaurants and cafes under this law. 

Again, it’s essential to do your restaurant research and ask questions to ensure you understand the labeling protocols in place as well as the protocols to prevent cross-contamination.


How to Ask For Dairy Free in Italy

When traveling in Italy with a dairy allergy, knowing how to communicate your dietary restrictions and allergies is crucial. When doing your research ahead of time and making arrangements with chefs, politely inform them of your dairy allergy in order to see if they can accommodate your needs, substitutions, and requests. The Italian word for milk is: Latticini and the Italian phrase for dairy free is: Senza lattosio. 

Along with your Italian food allergy chef card, keep these words and phrases written down so you can use them during your travels to communicate your allergy clearly. 


How to Eat Dairy Free in Italy

Italian cuisine offers a variety of dairy-free options, especially if you go into your trip knowing what to look for. Meat, fish, pasta with certain sauces, and sorbet can typically be enjoyed without dairy (but watch out for cross contamination with gelato nearby). Let’s take a look at some great options for eating dairy free in Italy at every meal. 



Dairy is common in Italian breakfast buffets, especially at hotels. Unless you call ahead to check on making arrangements for dairy free breakfast options, it’s important to be mindful of this. However, many hotels will carry dairy free milk options, but always be sure to check with them ahead of time. Whether your hotel is offering an Italian or American breakfast, buffets are never your friend and a la carte ordering is best, unless they will make you fresh items from the buffet. 

It’s important to note that many hotels don’t tell you what brands of dairy free milks they carry until right before your trip due to the supply available to them. Many hotels may not share this information at all, so if you’re looking for a specific brand of non-dairy milk, check to see if a local grocery store carries it. Oatly is a popular brand that can be found abroad in Italy in certain cities and stores. Check their website first for availability to prevent running all over the city looking for a safe milk option. As for food options, you can look for hotels that offer safe breads or pastries, dairy free egg dishes, fruit, bacon, etc. 

woman eating a breakfast that is dairy free in italy cafe.



Italian lunches often consist of a variety of dishes. You’ll likely get a primo (soup, pasta, or risotto dish), a secondo (a meat or fish based dish), and a contorno (a vegetable side dish). Italians like to end their lunch with a light dessert and/or espresso. 

Dairy will be found in butter used in dishes, dairy in fresh cheese, in soups, and hidden in sauces. However, freshly made pasta doesn’t contain dairy, so that would be a good option to look for around lunch time. Again, make sure to ask about the risk of cross-contamination to be sure. 

Pizza is not often on the lunch menu due to the time it takes to fire up the pizza oven, but some tourist locations will offer pizza by the slice at lunch. This may be a bit trickier to navigate when looking for dairy free options, so I would recommend steering clear of this.  

freshly made pasta for dairy free lunch in italy


Italian dinners follow a similar set of dishes as lunch, with the addition of iconic wood-fired pizza. Do your restaurant research to find restaurants and pizzerias that offer dairy free pizza options with dairy free cheeses, or request cheese free pizza. Be very diligent in double-checking ingredients and asking about cross-contamination from butter, milk, or cheese. You can also find other dishes available, specifically fresh meat and seafood dishes. Italians love to cook with seasonal fruits and vegetables, so you can often find something in season that meets your needs. 

enjoying a pizza for dinner overlooking water while eating dairy free in italy.



Sorbet is your best option for dairy free dessert. You may find vegan gelato, especially fruit-flavored gelato, in some cities. Again, watch out for cross-contamination with dairy gelato being too close to the sorbet to prevent this risk.

freshly made watermelon and lime dairy free sorbet in italy.

Dairy Free Dining In Italian Cities

As mentioned, each city and region in Italy has their culinary specialties and dishes they are known for. As you plan your trip, research to find dairy free options in each city so you can make the most of your trip. 

Dairy Free Rome

Rome is known for its classic dishes like amatriciana, cacio e pepe, and carbonara. Opt for dairy free versions or alternatives while doing your research. 


Dairy Free Florence

Florence offers a lot of vegan options for pizza, pasta, gelato, brunch, and dessert, allowing you to indulge without dairy. In the research phase, look for vegan specific restaurants that can meet your needs, but verify where they get their ingredients and what their protocols are.

While planning a trip that is dairy free in Italy may feel daunting at first, with the proper research, planning, and considerations, you can indulge in the delights of the country in a way that works for you. Familiarize yourself with the language for communicating your dairy allergy and reading labels to spot dairy ingredients so you can make the best dining choices. 

If you’re looking for support in planning your trip from start to finish, without sacrificing the tastes of the country, I’d love to help you with my full service travel planning service or my restaurant research service. 

Visit my contact page to learn more and book a consultation with me today! Italy is one of my favorite countries, and I’d be honored to help you plan your dream vacation!

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