Italy is affectionately known as the land of bread, pasta and wine – all of which, I love. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time on Italy twice in my short 26 years, and look forward to making my way back again very soon. Unfortunately though, since my last voyage to Italia, I discovered I have a severe gluten intolerance.
Senza Glutine: A life Changing Realization
I discussed this discovery in a recent post, which outlines how I discovered this dilemma through painful symptoms, a false diagnosis and a half-assed, self-mandated elimination diet.
Gluten-Free Travel in Italy
Now, I’m sharing my research on how to eat across Italy happily while remaining gluten-free.
Fortunately for those of us afflicted with gluten sensitivities and intolerances, the Italian government is working to keep us healthy! In fact, Italy offers citizens dealing with celiac disease food vouchers to help them pay for their special diet.
My Heroes: The Italian Coeliac Association
The Italian Coeliac Association has identified more than 4,000 restaurants that cater to the gluten-free community. These restaurants are trained on how to handle gluten-free food and visited at least once per year for monitoring.
They even have an app for iOS and Android called AIC Mobile that’s completely free. You do need to register to use it, though. If you do not have an Italian address they request that you use theirs: City: Genova; Province: GE; CAP: 16124; Address: via Caffaro 10
According to a list I downloaded from the AIC site, there are 195 bars, hotels and restaurants catering to the gluten-free crown in Florence alone. I literally want to run through the streets Oprah-singing Dean Martin songs in celebration of this fact.
FindMeGlutenFree.com + Italy
You can also use FindMeGlutenFree.com, as well as their app, to find reviews of restaurants all over Italy. I am pleasantly surprised at how many reviews Find Me Gluten Free has in the land of pizza and pasta!
Now, before I get into a list of restaurants you I think you should check out, sorted by city, there are a few things to know about dining in Italy.
Gluten-Free Gelato in Italy
First and foremost, there is a LOT of gluten-free gelato out there. In fact, I wouldn’t blame you if you traveled to Italy and only ate gelato for a week. It’s a perfectly respectable thing to do. Stracciatella Menta (mint chocolate chip) is my absolute favorite flavor. Some other notables include:
- Caffé (coffee)
- Cioccolatto fondente (dark chocolate)
- Cioccolatto al latte (milk chocolate)
- Gianduia (nutella)
- Frutti di Bosco (fruits of the forest, blueberries and blackberries)
When scoping out a gelato shop, avoid places with a bright-colored selection. Banana gelato is your north star. It should be a pale yellow, or even a touch brown, since bananas oxidize when they’re exposed to air. If the banana gelato is neon yellow, move along… quickly.
Also, if you’re highly sensitive, cross contamination may be an issue for you… everywhere. But, as far as gelato is concerned, you can try saying, “Ho bisogno di glutine libero. Utilizzare un cucchiaio pulito per raccogliere il gelato.”
I’m not an Italian language expert, but that sentence says, “I need gluten free. Please use a clean spoon to scoop the gelato.” And, of course, always show your gratitude with an enthusiastic “Grazi!”
Gluten-Free Risotto in Italy
Secondly, Risotto is your friend. Risotto is a rice-based, creamy dish of delicious proportions. My favorite is Risotto alla Brunelleschi–risotto with asparagus, mushrooms and ham, topped with fresh parmigiano reggiano.
How to Say Gluten-Free in Italian
Remember to always tell your server, “senza glutine,” which is “without gluten.”
You could also say, “ho bisogno senza glutine.”
Or, “ho bisogno di glutine libero.”
Both sentences say, “I need gluten-free.”
Well, the second one says I need to be liberated from gluten, which is pretty awesome.
Italian Food vs. American Food
Thirdly, if you’re an American traveling to Italy for the first time, you need to be aware of the difference between real Italian food and American-Italian food. American-Italian food contains absurd amounts of salt, butter and cream. It tastes so great because those ingredients empower the food dropkick you in the face with flavor.
In Italy, however, food is more simplistic and naturally flavored. A classic neapolitan pizza is made with delicate, bright tomatoes, hand-torn mozzarella and usually flimsy-yet-amazing, lightly-charred crust. You can taste every ingredient individually, which is a pleasant surprise if you have the right mindset.
In the past, I recommended one of Florence’s best pizzerias (Gusta Pizza, which is not gluten-free) to a friend who later wrote a yelp review calling the nearly 5-star-rated restaurant “bland.” He then told me that real Italian pizza just wasn’t his thing, and I would’ve agreed ten years ago.
But now? I’m obsessed.
Gluten-Free Restaurants in Italy
With all that out the way, here are some gluten-friendly spots you may want to hit during your travels…
P.S. These are separated into restaurants and pizzerias, but many of the pizzerias also serve pasta and vice versa. I categorized them on whether or not pizza or pasta seemed to be their specialty.
Gluten-Free Restaurants in Rome
Address: Via Sforza Pallavicini 19 Rome Italy
Address: Via di San Cosimato 7 Rome Italy
Address: Via del Vaccaro 1 Rome Italy
Italian carbonara is nothing like American carbonara… And it’s so much better!
Cul de Sac
Address: Piazza Pasquino 73 Rome Italy
This place is close to Piazza Navona and the Pantheon.
Address: Via di Torre Argentina 3 Rome Italy
This one is a bakery that also serves food items, which makes it extra exciting!
Gluten-Free Pizzerias in Rome
Voglia Di Pizza
Address: Via dei Giubbonari 33 Rome Italy
La Soffitta Renovatio
Address: Piazza del Risorgimento 46A Rome Italy
This pizzeria (they also have pasta) is close to the Vatican.
Bonus: Melograno Gelateria
I’m including this spot because it’s close to the Trevi Fountain! They offer gelato with gluten free cones. Heck. Yeah.
(Apparently they also have pizza, but who cares! GF CONES!)
Gluten-Free Restaurants in Florence
Hostaria Il Desco
Address: Via delle Terme 23R Florence Italy
This place is super close to the Ponte Vecchio, which is a spot you’ll no doubt be visiting! And, according to the following review, they serve gnocchi. If you haven’t had gnocchi before, it will change your life.
Address: Via dei Palchetti 6R Florence Italy
Il Desco Bistrot
Address: Via Cavour 27 50129 Florence Italy
Address: Piazza Degli Ottaviani 16R Florence Italy
I can personally vouch for this place. The food is good and the after-dinner cappuccinos come with the cutest dusting of cocoa powder in the shape of the restaurant’s name. It is not necessarily a gluten-free restaurant, but it is known for having a phenomenal “Bisteca Floretine.”
Bisteca Florentine is like a Texas T-bone steak but in Florence. We all know Florence as the city of leather, so it makes sense that they would have great steaks, too!
If you decide to try Buca Mario, just let them know you need gluten free items and they should be able to take care of you.
Address: Piazza del Mercato Centrale, 38r, 50123 Florence Italy
Great reviews on FindMeGlutenFree.com!
Gluten-Free Pizzerias in Florence
Ciro & Sons
Address: Via del Giglio 28R 50123 Florence Italy
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 5r, 50122 Florence Italy
From a 2018 review: “Probably the best gf pizza crust I’ve ever had.”
I think that says it all, folks!
Gluten-Free Restaurants in Venice
A La Vecia Cavana
Address: Rio Tera SS Apostoli 4625 30121 Florence Italy
This place has gluten-free tiramisu! YOU GUYS!
Antica Trattoria Alla Ferrata
Address: Calle Larga Dei Bari 1103 30135 Florence Italy
Ai Do Archi
Address: Barbaria delle Tole 6359 30122 Florence Italy
Address: Fondamenta Frari 2558 30125 Florence Italy
If you’re anything like me, you will get tired of eating of Italian food non-stop. So, here’s a Mediterranean restaurant to help you mix things up!
Gluten-Free Pizzerias in Venice
La Rosa Rossa
Address: San Marco 3709 30124 Venice Italy
Address: Ruga Giuffa, 4829, 30122 Venice Italy
This one has great reviews on FindMeGlutenFree.com!
Address: Sottoportego delle Acque San Marco, 49977 Venice Italy
Even more excellent reviews.
Bonus: Gelato with NO cross-contamination
Address: Calle de La Bissa 5453A 30124 Venice Italy