Sunday, December 16, 2012


This is a long delayed post -- we spent about two weeks in Italy this past summer and had a great trip.  


I found it helpful to identify a few options in whatever neighborhood we were going to be touring in around the various meal times.  Although it is probably possible to get a plain salad or plain meat in many places if stuck, there are so many restaurants with extensive gluten free options that it seems a shame to waste a meal time opportunity!  Many restaurants are not open 7 days a week, and will often close between lunch and dinner, so check times and days in advance.  If a restaurant has an email address, I sometimes found it easier to make the reservation by email rather than phone.  This way, I could use Google translate to compose the message (and use it to interpret the response as well!)  Also, download some Italian language restaurant cards. 

Some supermarkets had some gluten free foods, but most gluten free provisions are found in the Farmacies.  Every Farmacie had a slightly different supply, but most had crackers, cookies, breads, pastas, and even muffins.  I think we stopped into almost every Farmacie we passed, just to see what was available.

Finally, make sure to check out the Italian Celiac Society website,  There are sections which list (among other types of places) restaurants, pizzarias, hotels, and bars which have approved gluten free menus.  The site is in Italian, but you can use google translate to read it.  The listings are organized by province, and are particularly helpful if you are going to be in an area that doesn't get a lot of tourist traffic.  When I found likely places, I tried to look them up in Trip Advisor or other web searches, to get general reviews -- after all, we didn't only want places with good gluten free menus, we wanted places with excellent food, for both gluten free and non gluten free diners alike.


We rented an apartment near the Pantheon, which was an ideal location for us.  We walked almost everywhere, and it was a charming, lively area.  Every morning, there was a fruit market in the Piazze delle Coppelle right in front of our apartment, where we could stock up on fruit.  There was also a supermarket a couple of blocks away, where we purchased drinks and snacks, but we didn't really use the kitchen for much else!

Where we ate (favorites are starred):

* Caffe Universalle, -- between the Piazza Navona and the Pantheon -- the most elegant restaurant we went to, with fabulous, personalized service!  Great value if you get one of the 30 or 35 euro prix fixe menus -- four courses, all of which can be adapted to be gluten free.  Gluten free pasta and pastries also available.  No outside seating.  This was a definite highlight for us.

* La Soffitta Renovatio,  -- not too far from the Vatican/ St. Peters.  Another highlight.  Full gluten free menu, with excellent pizza, lots of pasta choices, and gluten free desserts.  A traditional atmosphere, but no outdoor seating.

* Ristorante Il Tulipano, -- in Trastevere.  Another great experience.  An extensive gluten free menu, with many options.

* Voglia di Pizza, -- between the Jewish quarter and the Campo di Fiori (the website is of a bed and breakfast that I think runs the pizzaria  Excellent gluten free pizza, also has other gluten free pasta and meal options.  More of a lunch place.  Has a few outside tables and some inside seating.

La Scaletta, -- near the Pantheon.  Gluten free pasta available.  The food here was good, but not outstanding.  However, the location is excellent, with very nice outdoor seating. 

Fa Bio, no website -- near the Vatican.  Not a typical Italian restaurant.  A small, hole in the wall type place with sandwiches (not gluten free), salads and smoothies.  A good option for take out (no seating), the staff is accommodating and salads and smoothes can be gluten free.

Mia Market,  -- Monti  Another atypical place if you are looking for a change from pizza/ pasta.  A small market/ deli with seating available.  Sandwiches (not gluten free) and salads.

Gelato   Gelato can have gluten in it.  In general, however, we found that the "artisinal" places had gluten free options.   Grom identifies its gluten free flavors right on the menu so you don't need to ask.  At Fatamorgana, in Monti, all flavors were gluten free and all cones were gluten free as well.  Il Gelato di San Crispino also had gluten free options.

Other places  We never got to try these places, but here are a few other places that were on our list of possibilities: 
Obika' Roma Campo Dei Fiori, (a few locations), aka the Mozzarella bar, no gf menu, but salads and cheese are available
Taverna Barberini, -- near Trevi fountain, has a gluten free menu
Marco G, -- Trastevere.  Has gf pasta.
Ad Hoc,
Casa Coppelle, -- near Pantheon, outdoor seating.

Sorrento and Florence report to come in a later post

A teen and her family's experiences living gluten-free.