Gluten Free Italy

Gluten Free Italy senza glutine Italia

Gluten Free Guide To Italy: Tips and Resources

I have a complete love of Italy. It was the first foreign country I was taken on holiday by my parents, aged 2. It was the country I chose to get married & honeymoon in and later it was the first overseas country we took the twins to on holiday. I’ve spent so much time there it feels so familiar. I never worry about what I’ll eat when I go to Italy because from experience that it will always be good.

In all the trips I’ve taken to parts all over Italy, I’ve learnt a few things which might help in planning a gluten free holiday in Italy:

1. It’s incredibly easy
You’d think with all that gluten-y pizza and pasta it’d be hard to eat safely in Italy but you would be wrong, it’s remarkably straightforward. Catering to coeliac and gluten intolerant diners is just so normal in Italy, it’s truly a breeze. In all the trips I’ve taken, my dietary restrictions have been treated kindly, seriously and most of all with respect. Something which can’t always be said of dining out in the UK.

2. Even if gluten free options aren’t listed on the menu, it’s likely there will be some
All over Italy I’ve discovered that just because it’s not written on the menu, it doesn’t mean they don’t have gluten free options. On the tiny Aeolian island of Salina, I asked and was given this gluten free pizza. It had been made on a shop-bought gluten free base. In Verona we had searched out a great looking gluten free restaurant I’d found online – only to arrive for us to arrive just as the kitchen was closing (for its lunch!). Instead, and with two hangry toddlers, we stumbled into a pleasant looking pizzeria opposite the Roman amphitheatre. With no mention of gluten free options on the menu I expected to order a simple salad for myself. Instead it transpired they did offer gluten free pizzas (even though they were not on the menu) and I thoroughly enjoyed this fabulous pizza, cooked in a foil tray to prevent cross contamination. Lesson of the day: If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

gluten free pizza Verona

3. You don’t need to bring food with you from home
There is absolutely no need to bring gluten free food with you from home for your trip, taking up valuable luggage space. Italian supermarkets will have everything you need. Even a small supermarket in central Turin had this enormous section of gluten free products.

Larger supermarkets and hypermarkets carry a dizzying array of products. I was once so overcome at finding frozen puff pastry in a Tuscan IberCoop I considered making a Millefoglie on my holiday (don’t worry – I snapped out of that one pretty fast!). This was the gluten free food selection found in just one store. Can you see why you don’t need to bring gluten free provisions with you to Italy?

4. Gluten free food can be bought in pharmacies
It’s not only supermarkets, but also pharmacies (farmacia) which carry gluten free food. In my experience the range found in pharmacies varies enormously. For example, on a trip to the Ligurian coast I found a pharmacy in Santa Margherita with a huge range, much larger than stocked in the supermarkets in the area. On the other hand, some pharmacies may only carry a few gluten free biscuits and crackers. Generally they often look like this one in Milan.

gluten free pharmacy italy

Or like this pharmacy in Genoa, they could be an entire shop of gluten free food!

5. Gluten free foods can be purchased on (some) trains
Of the many things I particularly love about Italy, the ease of train travel is high on the list. The train network is fast (or you could opt to take the slow line if you wish!), it takes you easily between city centre to city centre – meaning no need for a car to explore – and gluten free foods are even stocked on some trains. On Frecce (high speed) trains, the AIC has worked with Trenitalia to ensure that two savoury and two sweet gluten free products are stocked on trains. Am I alone in wishing the UK’s train operators would offer a similar service?

gluten Italy train travel

6. You can enjoy your gelato from a gluten free cone
Many (but admittedly not all) gelateria carry gluten free ice cream cones. However, eating from a coppa (cup) is totally normal. If you visit a Grom store which are found all over Italy, their ice creams are mostly all gluten free and they are now also carrying gluten free cones.

gluten free gelato italy

7. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised at every turn
For the twins’ first holiday we rented a villa in beautiful Umbria for two weeks. A pizza evening was included as part of the rental, with pizzas cooked in our villa’s wood fired pizza oven. I explained to the pizza chef about my dietary requirements. She said it would be fine and not to worry. Just in case (and because it’s impossible not to worry when you have food allergies/intolerance), I picked up some pre made gluten free pizza bases from the local supermarket as a back up. Yet what was provided was this….. The gluten free dough had been prepared in a clean kitchen and the pizzas cooked in metal trays to prevent cross contamination. Truly some of the best gluten free pizza I’ve ever eaten. And I’ve eaten a lot. (I wanted to bring Valentina back to London with us). 

8. Separate kitchen exist for the preparation of gluten free food
In some restaurants in Italy (especially pizzerias) a separate and dedicated kitchen may exist specifically for producing gluten free foods in an environment to minimise the risk of cross contamination as much as possible. I’m not aware of this type of separate kitchen set up occurring outside of Italy, except in rare cases. In addition, many of the gluten free pizzas I’ve had in Italy (including those show in this post) have been cooked in foil trays to prevent cross contamination in the pizza ovens.

9. The AIC (Italian Coeliac Association) website is open to use by non-members
Unlike other databases for Coeliacs (including Coeliac UK’s and the French Association Française Des Intolérants Au Gluten), the AIC generously provides open access to the restaurants listed within its database to non members. By clicking here you can search by town/region for restaurants trained and monitored (at least once a year) by the AIC. There are currently over 4,000 venues listed! . If you would like to use the AIC’s mobile app, full instructions on how to gain access – in English – are provided on this page.

And again exceeding expectations, this database even includes the name of the person at each venue who is responsible for gluten free food.

If there were one thing I wish about travelling in Italy, it’s that I wish my Italian language skills were better than the somewhat rudimentary level they currently are. But really I think the only way to solve this would be an extended stay spent living somewhere between Florence (and all its artistic gems) and the rolling hills of Tuscany or Umbria. I can almost taste the wine and freshest foods and I’d be eating….

Useful resources for gluten free travel to Italy
• You can find all of my gluten free posts on Italy here. I haven’t blogged about all the places I’ve visited so please do feel free to leave a comment below or email me if you have specific questions and I’ll help if I can.
• Essential phrases in Italian are:
o senza glutine = gluten free
o io sono coeliaco/a = I’m coeliac (m/f)
o sono intollerante al glutine = I’m intolerant to gluten
• It’s usually easy to find Schär gluten free products in Italy and they have a huge range of savoury and sweet options. But there are many brands offering gluten free products. Of these, some of my favourites are La Veneziane for authentic tasting gluten free pasta. Almost all supermarkets of any size I’ve visited in Italy carry the Galbusera Zero Grano range of savoury crackers and plain biscuits. Recently I’ve discovered the Barilla Mulino Bianco Rosemary crackers, perfect with some parma ham and Gorgonzola cheese. The COOP supermarket chain has its own gluten free range including gluten free cornettos.
• Gluten free beer can be found in most supermarkets, even smaller ones in town centres. It’s usually found in with the regular beers. The beers I’ve most often found are gluten free Daura and Peroni.
• As well as the AIC website, I like to use the Mangiare Senza Glutine website and app to find gluten free restaurants. I find this incredibly useful as it can search for suitable places near to your location on a map, plus it has reviews and users can add photos to the app of the foods eaten. You can even add your favourites to the app for future reference.
• Also useful is and (they also have an app)
• Just outside Rome is Relais Borgo Gentile. It’s owned by a registered dietitian and the whole menu is entirely gluten free, with other dietary restrictions accommodated also. I haven’t stayed here but Amy has and thought it was marvellous. I follow them on Facebook and the food and accommodation looks stunning (just take a look!).
• For a comprehensive guide to Italy, including a translation card and list of foods to eat and foods to avoid in Italy, Jodi’s Legal Nomad’s guide is very useful

Have you been to Italy? What surprised you about your trip? What was the best gluten free meal you ate there?

Gluten Free Guide To Italy

Gluten Free Panettone (and Pasta) at Elena’s Gluten Free Way

It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas….How do I know? Because at this time every year my blog suddenly gets a major increase in traffic from people searching for gluten free panettone.

This year Elena’s Gluten Free Way are selling gluten free panettone imported from Italy. I bought two to make sure no one (and by that I really mean me) goes without!

While you’re buying your gluten free panettone from Elena, I’d highly recommend taking a look through the other great Italian gluten free products on the website.

In particular, Elena has a great range of Italian gluten free pastas in a wide variety of shapes which are hard to find in the supermarket. My favourite is the Piaceri Mediterranei Linguine. It’s made from corn, rice and chick pea flours. I love it because it holds its shape well and doesn’t stick together as many gluten free pastas tend to. As a bonus it’s currently reduced to half price!


Gluten free panettone costs £ 9.50 from Elena’s Gluten Free Way. Website:

Please note this panettone contains deglutinised ingredients.

Grom: Gluten Free Ice Cream, Italy

No trip to Italy would ever be complete without a cup of something cooling and icy on a hot day.

The good thing is that even the smallest villages usually have a gelateria to get your ice cream fix. The bad news is that it can be a little hit and miss to find one which sells gluten free ice cream. When I know I’m going to a specific town or city, I check the excellent website of the Italian Coeliac Society in advance which helpfully for ice cream lovers like me provides a search facility for gluten free gelateria.

Although I most enjoy trying ice cream in small, independent producers like this one in Bologna, sometimes in a busy city with a big queue of tourists lining up behind you who are all desperate to get their ice cream fix, it can be a little intimidating to question the servers about gluten (and nut) free status of their ice cream. That’s what makes the Grom chain a good option.


Grom, Siena, Tuscany

Their website states:

GROM collaborates with the Italian Coeliac Association (AIC) to serve our Coeliac customers in the best possible way. AIC has rated our gelato as “gluten free” and suitable for consumption by coeliac customers.

AIC has also trained our staff in the rules of proper gelato scooping to prevent contamination gluten. All Grom stores joined this project and are constantly followed and monitored by the technical staff of the AIC. You will recognise the dedicated AIC sticker in our window.

All Grom gelato products are suitable for Coeliac customers except those marked with the (wheat) symbol.

Grom has a clear allergy list on their website showing which of their gelato, sorbet and granita contain gluten, milk, eggs, nuts and soy. These are also displayed on a wall inside the Grom store.


Grom’s very clear allergy menu

The Grom stores carry a huge range of different flavours in their delicious gelato. It’s a shame Grom don’t offer a gluten free cone which some Italian gelateria do, so I take my gelato in a paper cup. However, I’ll let them off on this since it’s great to be able to find a reliable gluten free gelato on a hot day!


Stracchiatella – my favourite

Grom stores can be found all over Italy (check the list here) and they also have a handful of stores overseas.

(More) Gluten Free Shopping in Italy

When most people think about going shopping in Italy their mind conjures images of gorgeous shoes, handbags and designer clothes. Me? It’s all about the gluten free food shopping.

Am I alone in returning home from a holiday with a bag heaving with piadina not Prada, Tuscan focaccia and not Ferragamo?

The trouble is, shopping senza glutine in Italy is really rather good.

If you’re heading for beautiful Italy soon I recommend you search out the nearest branch of the Coop. These stores range in size from tiny village corner shop to cavernous hypermarket and can be found all over Italy.

The Coop have their own excellent and extensive range of own brand gluten free products. In addition their carry products from DS (Dietary Specials), Agluten and many more.

Here is the vast product range found in one Coop supermarket in Poggibonsi, Tuscany.

Breads, foccacia, rice cakes:

Cakes, biscuits, breakfast items:

Various types of pasta and assorted flour mixes:

Frozen section including pizzas, baguettes, cornetto’s…and:

…the holy grail of missing gluten free product in the UK, it’s only puff pastry!:

Gluten free Daura at approximately half the price I pay in Waitrose:

But it’s not just about the processed foods, Italian supermarkets and markets are heaving with local produce which is naturally gluten free:

You can also read an earlier post here on gluten free shopping in Italy.

Gluten Free Italy: Dario DOC, Tuscany

There were many fun aspects to planning a wedding in Italy but a weekend spent viewing potential venues and villas was certainly one of the most enjoyable. On our sunny Spring-time whistle stop tour of Tuscan rolling hills and central Florence we visited a villa near to the village of Panzano. The wedding planner had told us in somewhat revered tones that Dario Cecchini owned a butcher’s shop and restaurant in the village and it might just be possible to persuade him to come with his wonderful meats to the villa to cook for us and our wedding guests. She told us Dario was unique, and a real character (and if you don’t believe it, check out his website…). The villa was beautiful but we found somewhere we loved more which was located further away. Thoughts of Dario and his mighty meats were put on hold.

On our recent visit to Tuscany I was reminded of Dario when I saw how close our villa was situated to Panzano. We decided to visit for lunch. As well as the butcher’s, Dario has several eateries in Panzano.

DOC Dario (aka MacDario’s) operates at lunchtimes offering two set meals. For a bargain EUR 10 you get all of the following:

half pound burger in a crisp crumb crust
garlic and sage roasted potatoes
vegetables and sliced onions
our sauces
Tuscan bread (NB not gluten free!)
water with or without bubbles

For EUR 20 the Accoglienza menu is all of the following:

raw garden vegetables to dip in olive oil
Chianti sushi (steak tartar)
Chianti tuna (a pork dish)
pork roasted with herbs and garlic
meatloaf with sweet bell pepper sauce
Tuscan bread (NB not gluten free!)
water with or without bubbles

Having settled at the communal table, we went for the simple EUR 10 menu. The burger is cooked to a choice of only rare, medium or well done (no medium rare here!).

The meal is served with a choice of three sauces; Chianti ketchup (my favourite), sweet spiced pepper jelly a mustard dressing.

For meat eaters, this meal was fantastic; soft beef patty expertly cooked and exceptional value, all the while sitting under a huge parasol protecting us from the scorching Tuscan sun. Vegetarians would find slim pickings here; the menu didn’t list any vegetarian options and I didn’t ask (perhaps there are some).

The menu states that all dishes are lactose free but I’d checked beforehand and the meal is also gluten free (excluding the Tuscan bread, served separately) but including the delicious sauces.

In the evenings DOCDario transforms into Officina della Bistecca. Also in the village is Dario’s Solo Ciccia restaurant offering a six course meat extravaganza chosen by Dario and served at a communal table. Click on the links to see what meaty treats these restaurants offer.

As we walked back to the car park, we wandered into Dario’s butcher shop where he was standing behind the counter, big band jazz music blaring out of the macelleria. Truly, one of a kind.


Address and opening times below. These vary for each restaurant so please double check on Dario’s website here to avoid disappointment.

Via XX Luglio, 11 Panzano in Chianti Firenze
tel. +39 055 852020 fax +39 055 852700

Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday /
Thursday /Sunday 9 – 14
Friday /Saturday 9 – 18

tel: +39 055852727
Monday / Tuesday /Wednesday : CLOSED
Thursday / Friday /Saturday : 19.00 o 21.00
Sunday 13.00

Monday / Wednesday / Sunday : only upon reservation
Tuesday / Thursday / Friday /Saturday : 20.00
Sunday 13.00

Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday /
Thursday /Friday /Saturday: 12 – 15
Sunday : CLOSED