Gluten free Florence

Gluten Free Pizza in Florence, Italy: Ciro & Sons

No trip to Italy could possibly be complete without a pizza. Specifically, a gluten free pizza. Regular readers of this blog will know that to date I’ve had quite a quest for the most crispy pizza Italy can offer the gluten intolerant traveller. A pizza that tastes so good it’s impossible to believe it has been made without gluten. This mission has taken me on various trips up and down the long boot of Italy and its islands from Milan via Rome to Palermo in Sicily and many places in between, with varied results.

Before our trip to Florence I researched gluten free pizza options in Florence online. I found two restaurants in the city which seemed to be highly recommended and not too touristy. The first was Pizza Man. Perhaps a slightly clumsy name for English speakers but my research determined the owner appeared to be the king of pizzas in Florence. I contacted them to find out which of their 8 branches were able to offer gluten free pizza. Unfortunately their restaurant located at via Sansovino, 191 which can cater for gluten free diets was not very convenient for where we were staying. Pizza Man even do a gluten free lunch which doesn’t just offer gluten free pizza but also gnocchi, Italian fried seafood and more. How fantastic! Reservations and advice notice of gluten free dining are required. Definitely worth considering if you’ll be in that part of town.

The second restaurant I found offering gluten free pizza in Florence was Ciro & Sons. It’s located in the historical centre, just behind the Basilica di San Lorenzo. Ciro & Sons website even states they can offer gluten free food. Thankfully I’d booked a table in advance because the restaurant was packed on the Saturday night we visited. I’d also notified the restaurant in advance that I’d like to order a gluten free pizza. They request that you do this so that the gluten free base can be prepared.

The restaurant has two rooms. I preferred the downstairs Renaissance style room with its high ceiling and Murano-esque chandelier. The whole restaurant had a very homely atmosphere and I have never seen so many family photos in a restaurant before. All the staff were very friendly and spoke excellent English.

Even though we’d booked, we still had to wait a short time for our table. Our standing spot was just inside the door and right in front of the guys making pizza in the open wood burning oven. It was fascinating watching the chefs pick out the pre-prepared dough from a tub using an implement that looked like a chisel, roll and shape the dough into a round, add the toppings and then slide the pizza onto a specially shaped wooden paddle, stretch it and finally sliding it in to the oven. Despite my interest in watching the activity in front of me, I stood there wondering how they would prepare a gluten free pizza in there without the risk of cross contamination? And then I saw another chef appear from a separate kitchen carrying a separate paddle with a pizza ready for the wood fired pizza oven on top.

When our ringside seat for the pizza action was interrupted to take our table, I asked the waiter about the gluten free pizza. I’d mentally prepared myself for steak and salad if I didn’t think it would be safe enough. The waiter explained they take precautions to avoid cross contamination and that although the pizzas do go into the same wood fired oven with the regular pizzas, a separate paddle is used and the gluten free pizzas are placed on an aluminium base to protect them from any stray flour which they might come in contact. Whilst we were watching the pizzas be prepared we saw one of the chefs singe his hand from the fierce heat of the oven while standing 4 ft away from it. The pizza oven was seriously hot and I doubt much survives long in there. The waiter told me Ciro & Sons been making gluten free pizzas there for 10 years and that many Coeliacs safely eat with them. Just after I ordered I overheard the Italian lady on the table next to me saying “lo sono celiaca” (I am Coeliac) so I guess the waiter was right. She also ordered a gluten free pizza.

After ordering drinks, a second waiter brought us some bread. He initially put it next to me (am I alone in hearing the music from the film “Psycho” when this happens?!) but then immediately moved it across the table to Mr D. He apologised saying he’d be back with something gluten free for me. I always feel comforted when a waiter with whom I have not placed my order with knows my dietary restrictions because it shows communication in the kitchen. He returned with some round rice crackers for me which I thought was a nice touch.

The pizza arrived and – oh wow – was it good!

The tomato base was fresh and tasted like a Tuscan summer. The pizza base was thin and wonderfully crispy from being baked in the wood burning pizza oven. Delicious. Mr D thought thought the pizzas could have had more topping. Perhaps looking at this photo now I agree with him but at the time I just enjoyed eating such a crispy pizza.

I didn’t have room for dessert but the menu did have three gluten free options including a cheesecake.

I’d recommend Ciro & Sons for a deliciously crispy gluten free pizza. Providing an alternative to bread with our drinks before the meal scored highly with me as did the long established precautions they take to prevent cross contamination.

Address: Ciro & Sons, via del Giglio, 28r, Florence, Italy

Cost: Under EUR 50 for 2 pizzas and a bottle of wine

Rating: 8/10 (pizza base was perfectly crispy, more topping would have resulted in higher score)

Reservations recommended and if you would like gluten free pizza, this should be ordered at least 24 hours in advance


Starbene Senza Glutine: Gluten Free Patisserie in Florence

Staying in hotels can be a fabulous break from the usual routine but sometimes renting an apartment or house can offer a more practical holiday solution for those with food allergies/intolerances. Having our own space and kitchen provides independence and means that I can prepare something safe to eat in my own time. For our trip to Florence I didn’t feel I was missing out on much by not staying in a hotel since many Italian hotel breakfasts often seem to constitute not much more than a coffee, some ham, cheese and a sweet cake. Having booked the apartment (highly recommended, details below), I searched for local food shop options knowing that Italian pharmacies all stock gluten free breads and cakes for possible breakfast options. Just for fun, I searched Google for a gluten free patisserie in Florence. Would you believe it? There is one! And it wasn’t too far to walk from our apartment. So that was breakfast sorted.

Starbene Senza Glutine have 8 stores located throughout Tuscany which are listed on their website here. In Florence their store is located at the north edge of the city, about 10 minute walk from the Accademia. The location on Starbene’s website map correctly shows the store about half way down Viale Spartaco Lavagnini. However when we got there and followed the house numbers for the address, it appeared to be near to the Piazza della Libertà. Don’t make the same mistake (although I enjoyed the deour around the Piazza several times, really!). Make sure you walk down Viale Spartaco Lavagnini on the right hand side of the boulevard with your back to the Piazza and walking towards the centre of Florence and you will see it.

I was bowled over by this gluten free shop. As well as many fresh cakes, their refrigerated counter contained a good selection of savoury items and their shelves had a number of packaged goods. Importantly for me, very few items contained almonds or any other nuts.

After some very extensive consideration I chose….

A couple of fruit tarts for breakfasts:

I don’t know if this spinach slice is a traditional Italian dish but it reminded me of the Greek dish spanakopita. I thoroughly enjoyed this and wish I’d had time to buy another for our flight home.

Chocolate dipped “Cat’s Tongue” biscuits. I had intended to bring these home but once we’d tried one of the fabulously light biscuits dipped in dark chocolate, I knew they would never make it home with us. Just too good.

Some grissini sticks which did both make it back to London.

If you’re planning a stay in Florence, I thoroughly recommend staying at Palazzo Alfani. These beautiful apartments are in a 16th Century palace located directly opposite the Accademia which houses the original statue of David by Michelangelo. The statue of David must have been no more than 100 metres from me and leaning out of the window ‘Room With A View’ style, Florence’s beautiful Renaissance Duomo was at the end of the street. Enjoying my delicious gluten free breakfast treats from Starbene sitting with the huge apartment windows flung wide open in the warm Spring air whilst listening to the sounds of tourist and locals in the street below was a fabulous way to start the day.

Details: Starbene Senza Glutine Florence are located at Viale Spartaco Lavagnini n. 2/r – 50100 Firenze (please note the directions above)

Opening Hours:

Monday-Friday 07:30-13:30 / 16:30-20:00

Saturday 08:00-13:00 /16:30-20:00

Sunday 08:00-13:00

Opening hours in Italy can vary depending on the season and I highly recommend you contact them directly for opening hours via email info@starbenesenzaglutine.it to double check opening hours when you visit.

Starbene also have a restaurant if you are in the Calenzano (Prato) area with a restaurant offering a gluten free menu, including pizza. The restaurant website is here.