Gluten-Free Travel in Italy

mamey gluten free pastry-gluten free travel

Gluten Free Travel Resources

Schar’s Gluten Free Roads  This website, by Schar (Europe’s biggest producer of  gluten free products) allows you to enter your location and find a list of pizza spots and restaurants nearby where they serve gluten free dishes. You can also look up stores or supermarkets where they sell gluten-free products. It is not as helpful in less touristy regions, but in areas like Tuscany or Rome you’ll find a ton of spots on their gluten free roads maps. It’ll change your travel life completely. Impromptu pizza stops are in your future.

Printable Italian Celiac Restaurant Card Print this card, laminate it and bring it with you to restaurants in Italy. Though the population is much more well versed in food allergies now (oy vay if you are traveling now it is SO much better than 10 years ago it’s amazing!), there are still many who don’t understand the full scope of foods that contain gluten (of course this is true anywhere).

Bakeries

Starbene Senza Glutine -this bakery has locations now all over Italy: Siena, Florence, Rome, Lucca, Modena and more. It’s a bit complicated to contact them as all the stores are run separately (like a franchise) so no store has information on any other store and if you just google Starbene you might get any one of the stores. So, best option is to type in Starbene senza glutine in Facebook plus the city where you’ll be and find the exact shop you’re looking for. There you’ll find hours, days open and phone number/address, etc. They have some of the best fresh baked gluten free breads that I’ve had in Italy (except for the tiny bio shops I stumble across that have weekly deliveries of the really good whole grain stuff)

Starbene Lucca Gluten Free bakery Italy
Shopping for Gluten-Free products at supermarkets

Gone are the days when you had to go to a pharmacy (or farmacia) in Italy to get some gluten-free crackers or pasta (all 100% corn flour or some other awful combination that turned into mush immediately or tasted like cardboard)…. at least in big cities. You’ll find a huge gluten free aisle in the big supermarkets like Coop, Conad and Esselunga in big cities (as long as you’re not shopping in the super small/convenience store version of these stores where you’ll find much fewer options).

These should have everything from gluten free pasta and cereal to packaged gluten-free breads, crackers and cookies. If you go to one of the huge super-center versions of a supermarket like Esselunga or Coop you’ll find an even larger variety-including more brands/choices of pasta, bread, crackers, baking mixes, pizza crusts, baking flours beyond the basic Schar ‘all purpose’ and so on…

Of course, the quality varies and in Italy, like Spain and France almost all gluten-free products are really white flour based. Finding a whole grain gluten-free pasta is like happening upon a unicorn. It can be done though, if you find the small bio shops that are usually hiding somewhere in any city or town. I still find that Schar has the best consistency and taste when it comes to bread/pizza crusts/crackers that can be bought at supermarkets in Italy. Though for pasta-there is a great brand called

In small villages and towns and outside of touristy regions

Finding gluten-free products in places like Rome or Tuscany (the most visited region by international tourists and in general) and finding gluten free products in less touristed regions or small towns and villages are very different things. In many towns you will be lucky to find a package of gluten free crackers at the supermarket (and int these towns you still may need to go to the farmacia to find a package of gluten-free bread).

If traveling to small towns, do some research first, and always bring some extra GF goods with you if you can’t live without them. For research, I always try a google search:  senza glutine+name of town and see if I find any restaurants/bakeries/shops listed and then I also go to a site like TripAdvisor and look for reviews that include the words ‘senza glutine’ or gluten-free or check the ‘gluten free options’ box on the left under ‘dietary restrictions’ and see what comes up near the town. Italians use TripAdvisor now too so you may reviews in either Italian or English.

If, however, the town is just too small and off the beaten path- your best bet is to first find out whether there is a bio shop (ask the locals or at the desk at your hotel) and then if there’s no Bio shop, find out whether the pharmacy sells gluten-free products. Carrying some gluten-free crackers or packaged bread on hand (from your stops in larger cities) in case of emergencies is always recommended when traveling to small villages or off-the-beaten path in Italy.

Restaurant/Where to Eat Lists (though I try to keep these up to date-things change quickly in the GF/restaurant world so please double check information):

Yelp’s 10 most highly rated gluten-free restaurants in Milan

Guide to Eating Gluten-Free Lucca 

Florence: A Gluten Free Mecca (article in The Florentine)

Trip Advisor’s Top Rated Gluten-Free Restaurants in Florence 

Gluten Free in Rome

Blogs 

Gluten Free in Italy 

Gluten Free Guide to Italy