Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Gluten-Free in Tuscany & Umbria

Typical Tuscan starter ... with gluten-free bruschetta and a porcini / truffle topping.  Yum!.

I love going to Italy - it has everything: great scenery, history, warm weather and fantastic food.  Not only is the food fantastic, but they totally understand what it means to be gluten free.  I've read that all kids are tested for gluten issues before they go to school.  Awareness of coeliac disease is high and this means it's the one country I know I can travel to and eat well and safely.

Gluten-free bruschetta with tomatoes.

In every restaurant the waiters understood.  You just have to say 'sono celiaco' and they know what it means.  Sure, the level of response varied - they could tell you which items on the menu to avoid everywhere; some had gluten-free pasta available and a very few catered brilliantly for coeliacs and had gluten-free bread baskets, pizza dough and more!

Gluten-free pizza - this was amazing!

It's going to be a little bit expensive going back to Florence every time I want this pizza ... but this was so good it is almost worth the airfare!

Gluten-free gnocchi.

Apologies for the blurry and/or dark snaps - all taken with my phone and mostly in dimly lit conditions!

In my experience you can eat gluten-free just about anywhere in Italy, but I thought I'd share some addresses / websites of the places that we went to:


Via del Giglio 28r

This is a family-run business and had the best gluten-free bread, pasta and pizza imaginable.  You have to order the pizza dough the day before you go, but they always have the bread and pasta available.  All of my food was brought out on different coloured plates to 'normal' food and separate from Andy's food.  The pizza was the best I've had since my diagnosis (that's seven years now!) - you'd hardly know it was gluten-free (Andy tested some to be sure!).  The chef won a gluten-free pizza making competition and I can see why.  I'd love to have this restaurant just round the corner from where I live!

Piazza del Mercato Centrale 38r

Had gluten-free pasta available.

Viale Spartaco Lavagnini 2r

It's a little bit of a walk from the town centre on a hot and humid day, but we visited this dedicated gluten-free patisserie on my birthday!  I got some lovely glazed apple tartlets in lieu of birthday cake and some biscuits for the rest of my trip (see the note about breakfasts below).   Worth a visit and they have outlets in other towns too.


Via delle Streghe 8

You might wonder if there really is a restaurant down this dark alley, but it really is there.  Fantastic flavours!  Gluten-free pasta is available.


Via della Fratta 22

This lovely restaurant has its own gluten-free menu!  They gave me a basket of gluten-free bread and they were prepared to make fresh pasta for me.  I felt truly spoilt but, as I'd already eaten a lot of pasta on this trip, I had the gnocchi instead!

Everywhere else we went I simply avoided the items I was told (or common sense dictated) contained gluten.  

It's maybe worth noting that breakfast can be a bit difficult, so I always take something with me from home to tide me over until I can buy something locally.  The Co-op supermarket chain sells some gluten-free food and every pharmacy has a gluten-free section too.  In Florence our B&B didn't do breakfast but gave us vouchers for a local café which didn't have any gluten-free pastries - coffee and a pastry is a fairly typical breakfast!  Where we stayed in a larger hotel there was usually a buffet and just once I found some gluten-free bread available as part of that buffet.


  1. When I was in Italy, I didn't care much for their meat. It just seemed too strong. Probably because it didn't have the flavor cooked out of it like we do here in America! The pizza....loved it. We ate a lot of pizza there. You are very organized with the whole eating thing. We had no idea where we were eating most of the time, until we saw a place and said, "hey...let's eat here!"

    Cindy Bee

  2. Sounds like you definitely need to move to Florence!

  3. A gastronomical holiday!! The food looks fab and how interesting that they test the kids before they start school.