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 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