First a few points about visiting Italy. You will find yourself in gluten-free heaven as everybody in Italy knows about Celiac Disease. You must remember the words “Lo Sono Celiaco” or Senza Glutine”. If you use these words everybody will know what you mean, so say them as soon as you enter a restaurant or wine bar and you can then relax and enjoy a great meal, with a fantastic selection of wines to chose from. Many places have their own wine cellars so feel free to explore and try something new.
Some background information about Italy and celiac disease. All Italian children get tested for the Celiac Disease at an early age and if the disease is found, then the person is entitled to a stipend to buy gluten-free food for the rest of their lives. Currently in 2009, for an adult, this works out to roughly 140 Euros every month.
In Italy the law says the gluten-free food must be available in schools, hospitals and in public places, so all pharmacies have shelves bulging with gluten-free foods ranging from pastas, bread, cakes, cookies and croissants “Cornettis Senza Glutine”. In addition to the pharmacies you can look for “Castroni Stores”, these also stock a good selection of gluten-free food products!
If you decide to eat out for breakfast in a small bar, make sure to take your own “Cornettis Senza Glutine” with you, just in case the bar doesn’t have them in stock. For lunch and dinner in larger restaurants, you will have no problems as a number of them have a separate gluten-free menu. Be careful as vegetarian and gluten-free meals are quite often not marked as such, so ask. They are usually extremely helpful in helping you to select dishes that are gluten-free.
Restaurant prices vary heavily in Italy (as they do all over the world) but here is a selection. Some are exclusive and expensive while others are more reasonably priced. This of course is a small selection from the many excellent restaurants, you will find in Rome. You might find it best to phone ahead and reserve your table, mentioning “Senza Glutine” when you reserve.
Here are a few locations in Italy which are confirmed to offer gluten-free food:
- Tulipano Restaurant, Via Roma Libera 15 Tel: 065818309 Excellent gluten-free pizzas.
- Arancia Blu Restaurant, Via Dei Latini 55 – 65 Tel: 064454105 Great for gluten-free pastas.
That should serve as a good introduction to eating gluten-free in Italy. In my next post I’ll cover a larger selection of restaurants which offer a gluten-free menu which you can view here.