THE GLUTEN-FREE GUIDE TO ITALY
As an Italian professor, a musician and an Italian-American, I have traveled all
over Italy; I have even been lucky enough to occasionally spend long periods of
time (six months to a year) in my favorite Italian city, Rome. The country, the
people, the art, the history, and the culture are fantastic. The food in Italy is a
delight, a feast of the senses.
Ah, l’Italia: il paese della pasta (the land of pasta) . . . Most people imagine it to
be a daunting destination for gluten-free tourists. To my surprise, as I have
learned through extensive research, Italy is a gluten-free paradise!
Anyone on a gluten-free diet can get gluten-free croissants (known as cornetti
senza glutine) in the local hotels and bakeries for breakfast; gluten-free pizza for
a mid-morning snack; gluten-free lasagne with fresh-made gluten-free bread for
lunch; gelato with a gluten-free cone in the afternoon; and if you still have room
for dinner, three or four courses of anything you want gluten-free for dinner.
(Save room for the gluten-free tiramisu for dessert!) Your biggest problem in Italy
is going to be deciding what to eat first and trying not to gain 30 pounds from
eating all the delizioso cibo italiano (delicious Italian food)!
Everyone in Italy knows about celiac disease. When you ask restaurant staff
about gluten-free food, they automatically respond, Lei è celiaca? (You have
celiac disease?) This is because all Italians are tested for celiac disease at an
early age. The many who test positive receive great services: a monthly stipend
from the government for gluten-free food as well as extra vacation time to shop
for and prepare gluten-free food. In addition, the Italian Celiac Association, the
Italian government and a few major Italian companies that sell gluten-free
products have all worked to promote awareness and understanding of celiac
disease. As a result, restaurant owners, managers, chefs, and waiters are well-
While I was writing this book, I contacted the Italian Celiac Association and spoke
to hundreds of restaurant owners, managers, and customers in Italy. Sometimes,
restaurant owners said “no”—they could not provide me a gluten-free meal. But
much more often, they said,
Come no!?! (Why not? Why do you even ask?)
Certo, signora, con piacere. (Of course, Madame, with pleasure.)
Lei vuole gli gnocchi o le tagliatelle? Tutti e due sono senza glutine e sono
stati fatti in casa stamattina. (Would you like gnocchi or tagliatelle? They
are both gluten-free and were homemade this morning.)
Si, si, anch’io sono celiaco, quindi preparo tutto qui senza glutine. (I am also
a celiac and so I prepare everything here gluten-free.)
Music to my ears!!!!
This book is presented as a service to the gluten-intolerant community, in the
spirit of "celiacs helping celiacs." It offers lists of hotels, pensiones, B&B’s,
restaurants, caterers, pizza places, ice cream stores, bakeries, health food
stores, and pharmacies that serve the gluten-free community all over Italy. It lists
all of the above by region, with major tourist towns in bold print. The
establishments that are participating in the Italian Celiac Association program
(more information about this in the opening pages of the book) are marked with
Let the reader be forewarned that these lists are fluid: restaurants come and go.
It is a good idea to call first; for virtually all restaurants in this guide, phone
numbers are listed. The list of restaurants does not represent a guarantee that
food served at any restaurant is gluten-free. Remember that is always important
to communicate with the chefs as to your own special dietary needs. For help
with this, check out the “Questions for the chef” and food vocabulary sections in
the front of the book as well as the glossary section in the back of this book.
Enjoy your trip to Italy, and especially enjoy the food! Revel in your new-found
Buon viaggio e buon appetito!