Rome

Gluten free Rome

Gluten Free Rome: Guest Post

Our first family holiday with the twins was to Italy (of course!) and involved an overnight stay in Rome but sadly we didn’t have time to explore the latest gluten free restaurants in Rome on that trip. So I was thrilled when Meredith offered to write a guest post on her visit to Rome.

Many thanks to Meredith for this…and making me wish I could hop on a plane to eat at Barbara’s, pronto!

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Gluten  free adventures in Rome.

I won’t lie, as someone who had never been to Rome before, I was incredibly excited to go but as a coeliac, the land of pizza and pasta had me somewhat concerned. How wrong I was.

In Italy, coeliac testing is normal and mandatory. Coeliacs are also given a financial stipend to cover the increased costs of shopping for food and eating out, something I wish the British government would consider! As a result, gluten free food is frequently available even in small supermarkets, and a number of restaurants offer gluten free pizza and pasta, some even with separate kitchens for the gluten free food to be kept contamination free. Below are details of my four dining-out experiences.

Pantharei2 minutes walk from the Pantheon

Food: 4/5

I could have a potato pizza. Yep you heard right, potato and cheese on a pizza, I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy. There was lots of choice and the food I had was delicious.

Price: 2/5

Marked down as a result of a €2 surcharge for gluten free pizza bases, but even with that, three main courses and a carafe of wine was just €35.

Atmosphere: 3/5

A rustic, homely place with wooden benches, which other than the far-too-common TV was very pleasant for lunch.

Mama Eat In the Travstevere district

Food: 4.5/5

There is a separate gluten free menu which gives confidence, and I had a lovely pizza. The non-coeliac contingent of my party also said it was their favourite pizza of the entire trip. Bonus points for having three types of cake available, all of which were gluten free, and just to be thorough for you I can with confidence say that the two I tasted were delicious!

Price: 4/5

Very reasonable, three main courses, water, a carafe of wine and two slices of cake came to €47.5.

Atmosphere: 2/5

The tables were tightly packed, and as with many of the restaurants a TV was distracting, as a caveat Mama Eat has a lovely outside area which the torrential rain prevented us from enjoying.

Voglia di Pizza – Near Piazza Navona and the Pantheon

Food: 5/5

The high mark is a result of not only delicious food, and a separate menu for gluten free food, but because I could have anything I wanted. Beer, starters, bruschetta, deep fried vegetables, they would make anything I wanted specially.

Price: 3/5

Three two-course meals with water and wine came to €57.

Atmosphere: 2/5

As with Mama Eat it felt a little more like a diner, and also had a TV, which as you may have noticed is not my favourite thing for a restaurant!

“Eat With” Barbara – In the Travstevere district

Eat With is a website, a little like couch surfer, which allows you to dine at a local resident’s house with others from all over the world. Barbara is one such host in Rome, where we spent a really wonderful evening, joined by an Israeli couple and an American couple on their honeymoon.

Food: 5/5

Incredible artichokes, risotto, polenta, the list of delicacies goes on and on.

Price: 5/5

The cost is £35 per person, this however includes countless courses of food, and as much alcohol as you want to drink, Prosecco, red wine, white wine and aperitifs were served though-out the evening. Ultimately, all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink in incredibly pleasant surroundings, I can’t recommend more highly.

Atmosphere: 5/5

I want to move in to her apartment, now.

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Have you visited Rome, Italy recently? Is there anywhere you’d recommend to eat out with great gluten free options? For more posts on Rome click here and for many more posts on Italy please click here.

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

Rome: Have Yourself a Gluten Free Pizza The Action!

After a morning spent wandering the Vatican museums and Sistene Chapel, I was ready for lunch.

My number one tip for Rome is to buy your tickets for the Vatican museums and Sistene Chapel in advance. You can buy them online here. I’m so glad I did – the line was 3 HOURS long. Whereas the queue for the reserved tickets line contained….er…no-one. We strolled straight in. Result!

Just around the corner from the Vatican was the Restorante Renovatio La Soffitta located at Piazza del Risorgimento 46/A, on the corner of Via Crescenzio and the Piazza. Walking there I was somewhat concerned by the terrible looking food the restaurants nearby were churning out. But I needn’t have worried. When we walked down into the friendly (and it turned out, large) restaurant I could see we were a million miles from the cheap, reheated frozen lasagne being served nearer to the Vatican.

Gluten free pizzeria Rome

We took our table…

Restorante Renovatio La Soffitta

The waiter brought us the menu and I got the opportunity to try out my newest trick. That morning I’d been given (another!) lesson by the hotel concierge on the correct pronunciation of the Italian for “I’m Coeliac”. The Italian phrase is “lo sono Coeliaco” and he made me repeat over and over again Eliza Doolittle syle the word “coeliaco” as “chilli-a-ka” until he deemed I’d finally got it.

When I explained this to the waiter he said no problem and would I like a gluten free beer while I read the menu. Hmmm….now let me think…The Lebensfreude gluten free lager turned out to be crisp and light in flavour but fairly strong at 4.8%.

Gluten Free Beer Rome

If the prospect of a gluten free pizza wasn’t enough, they also offered gluten free pasta, calzone and even gluten free lasagna! The list of pizzas on offer were huge and it took me a while to decide.

Gluten free menu Rome

In the end I settled on the Capriocciosa. The gluten free base was thicker in Milan. The pizza had a lot of topping so it was very filling.

gluten free pizza Rome

What I liked about this friendly restaurant (apart from the gluten free pizza and beer!) was that the staff seemed really proud of the fact they offered gluten free options. How nice to be treated as someone special, rather than as a customer with a problem allergy the kitchen were going to have to deal with.

As we left I passed by a girl grinning inanely at the table. As I looked further I could see she had also ordered the gluten free pizza while her friends were tucking into their ‘normal’ pizzas. Her look of pure joy made me smile too.

A couple of photos from Rome…

Michelangelo’s jaw dropping Sistene Chapel. Apart from his supreme skill, imagine the stamina and dedication required not just to paint this, but to do so suspended from the ceiling for hours and hours on end for 4 years:

Sistene Chapel

The queue for entry to Vatican museum. This was one-third of the queue, it snaked much further around the corner. Buy your tickets in advance, people!

Queue for Vatican museum

The giant rotunda of the Pantheon. Its age and scale make this one of my favourite buildings in the world.

Pantheon

And finally a surprising sight. Last time I was in Rome it was November so I guess it wasn’t the season for orange trees but they were absolutely everywhere.

Orange trees in Rome

Do read on to the comments below for lots of suggestions on eating out in Rome.