Gluten Free Shopping in Italy: Supermarkets and Pharmacies

Going to Italy? Wondering about what gluten free goods are on offer? Thinking how much of your luggage space you will need to assign to transporting gluten free goods for your holiday?

Well, you’re in for a treat. You may find this surprising but Italy, the land of pizza and pasta, is a gluten free paradise. In fact it’s probably exactly because of all that pizza and pasta that the incidence of Coeliac disease is high in Italy. The good news is that due to a national screening programme for small children, awareness of Coeliac disease is high.

For me, Italy is the easiest country in the world in which to eat gluten free. I can understand you might want to take some emergency gluten free goods with you but you will see in this post, Italy has much to offer. Which is great because buying your supplies in Italy means there’s space for that extra pair of shoes (or two!).

If you’re travelling to Italy the first thing to be aware of is that gluten free goods are sold in pharmacies (farmacia) as well as in supermarkets.

In the interests of research (sorry Mr D!) I went into lots of different farmacia to see what was on offer. Almost every one I visited carried some gluten free products. Some just carried gluten free spaghetti, while others such as the one next door to our hotel in Rome, carried a good selection of cakes, biscuits, wafers, crackers and grissini, all gluten free. I also found it easier to find lactose free products in the farmacia than the supermarkets.

Although the selection was good, the farmacia generally only carried one of each product. I also noticed that the farmacia all seemed to carry different products so I would recommend that if you see something you like, buy it when you see it.

When looking for gluten free goods in Italian farmacia, you will need to have a good look around as they were often on low shelves or tucked behind the door.

I loved these individually wrapped Madeleines

These wheat free, gluten free, lactose free individually wrapped crackers were great and I had them for breakfast with some ham and cheese:

Supermarkets usually stocked different product ranges to the farmacias. In supermarkets the gluten free goods were often tricky to find as they were in the same section as the non-gluten free goods. You could spot them though by looking for the crossed grain symbol.

In a Spar in Rome between the Pantheon and the Trevi fountain on Via del Pozzetto I even found Daura gluten free lager!

If you take the train from Rome Termini station, there’s a Conad supermarket located on the floor below the platforms. They carried plenty of gluten free goods, including bread. Certainly enough to make a picnic for the train (note the Schar crackers).

Even in the Conad supermarket on the tiny Aeolian island of Salina, I managed to find gluten free goods in the supermarket. These rice cakes came to Stromboli with us (note the volcanic lava pebbles!):

Finally I will leave you with this image. I found this Disney gluten free chocolate cake on the island of Stromboli. Ever seen a gluten free chocolate cake sitting in the refrigerated section of a supermarket? Nope, me either. And this was in a tiny supermarket in the middle of nowhere. Amazing.

Opening Hours

Opening hours for supermarkets and pharmacies will depend on the area of Italy you’re visiting and the season so you’ll need to check locally but I hope this will give you some indication.

Pharmacies: Generally open approximately 8.30am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm Monday to Friday. Some will be open for at least the morning on Saturday but usually not in the afternoon. Rarely open on Sundays. There will be an emergency farmacia open somewhere in the city / area you’re visiting but better to plan on doing any gluten free product shopping Monday tthrough Friday and Saturday morning.  

Supermarkets: Supermarkets are nornally open approximately 9am to 1 or 2pm and 4pm to 8pm. Some close on a Wednesday afternoon. You should be able to find supermarkets open on a Saturday morning and many will be open in the afternoon too. Rarely open on a Sunday. Check opening times because there are likely to be regional and seasonal variations. Large supermarkets (such as the IPERCOOP) will have extended opening hours of approximately 8am to 9pm Monday to Saturday and they do not close for lunch. They will also be open for at least part of Sunday, if not all.

Coming Next: Part 2 of gluten free shopping in Italy: A dedicated shop for Coeliacs

Follow:
Share:

16 Comments

  1. Liz Wood
    July 9, 2011 / 10:05 am

    Reading this has really cheered me up. I am off to Tuscany soon and was dreading having to tote a load of GF stuff with me. If I can pick up bread, biscuits, pasta etc in supermarkets etc then I will have less worry about overloading my case. It’s amazing how much even a few packs of bread and rolls add to the weight!

    • July 9, 2011 / 2:03 pm

      Hello! Whereabouts are you going to in Tuscany? I got married in Siena – truly beautiful city.

      You will be able to pick up lots of gluten free goods either in a pharmacy (you may need to check a few before finding exactly what you want) or in the supermarkets. Perhaps take a small amount of bread etc while you get yourself organised at the start of your holiday but after that you will be able to pick up everything you need out there. I think Italy is the only place in the world where I really look forward to gluten free food shopping – there’s lots of interesting things to try. Which is great – more room in your luggage for shoes!

    • July 9, 2011 / 1:56 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and providing your link – that’s a really useful site!

  2. D.L.
    September 28, 2011 / 3:13 pm

    Yes, Italy is great, and the farther south you go in Italy the more gluten free products there are available. We found a great Farmacia in Amalfi that had more GF products than I have ever seen! The Coop in Siena was also a great place for GF and everything else. What an amazing store.

    We have also found a Spain a good place to travel as the El Cortes department stores, which are all over Spain, have a great section for GF and other allergies sensitive foods.

    • October 3, 2011 / 6:44 pm

      Hello and thanks for stopping by and commenting. Whereabouts in Siena is the good Coop? I know the Ibercoop in Montevarchi quite well but I guess that’s only helpful if you have a car.

  3. Alberto
    March 22, 2012 / 2:28 pm

    Hello Mrs D.
    I’m an italian coeliac, for yiur future travels in italy take a look to this site http://www.celiachia.it/home/HomePage.aspx (actually in italian only). Is the site of the Italian Celiac Association,is thanks to it that in Italy you can find everything gluten free. On this page: http://www.celiachia.it/dieta/Dieta.aspx?SS=95 you will find the list of places to eat gluten-free food with individuals who are knowledgeable about the disease. There is also an app for iphone and Android, but it is only in Italian.
    I hope I have helped the readers of your blog

    • March 26, 2012 / 7:29 pm

      Hello! Thank you so much for visiting and leaving the link for the Italian Coeliac Association. I do use that website to locate places to eat out and it’s extremely useful. I use Google Chrome which has a translation toolbar which makes it very easy to navigate even though I only speak a little Italian.

      Fantastic news the Italian Coeliac Association also has an iPhone/Android app for any Italian speakers reading this.

      Many thanks again, you’re so lucky to live in such a beautiful and accommodating country for Coeliacs!

  4. Anita Royse
    November 18, 2015 / 7:16 pm

    I just want to find out how to get the COOP bread that I ate for three weeks while in Florence. Is there a website that ships?

    • December 13, 2015 / 9:27 pm

      I’m afraid I’m not aware if a company that ships from COOP, was it their own brand of bread?

  5. Anita Royse
    December 13, 2015 / 9:38 pm

    Yes, their own brand. I miss it! It was round shaped (like a hamburger bun) and each one was vacuum packed.

    • December 13, 2015 / 9:49 pm

      Oh, was hoping you’d say it was the Schar bread which is easier to track down. Looks like you’ll need to plan another trip to Italy to buy some more!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *