Travelling overseas can be daunting for someone with special dietary requirements. Where there is a language barrier, it is stressful trusting the dish served up is genuinely harmless. For me, consuming gluten would result in 48-72 hrs of violent illness, severe dehydration and exhaustion – less than ideal where lengthy flights or coach travel is involved.
I was diagnosed with Coeliac (Celiac) disease in 2007, and until that point had only ventured outside of Australia twice. I now rue the lost opportunities at travelling on a ‘normal’ diet. Carefree sure beats gluten free. It took me several years to gain the confidence to travel internationally adhering to this diet. Happily, I haven’t been ‘glutened’ overseas, which I put down to careful planning and a good deal of luck.
Italy, the carbs-laden land of pasta and pizza, reads like a Coeliac’s nightmare, but it’s actually very accommodating. My positive gastronomical experience in Rome 4 years ago was in part the catalyst for my recent return to the country. I was very glad to find Northern Italy brimming with senza glutine delicacies. (I even found beer and icecream cones at Cinque Terre – tricky enough to find these in Melbourne!)
O Peperino e Milano
The most delicious capricciosa, followed by a tiramisu (that disappeared before a photo could be taken). Extensive GF options here. I was even asked if I needed a gluten free menu.
Ristorante Pizzeria Il Portico
Risotto al persico. Beautiful perch. Easily the best risotto I’ve ever had. Cooked to perfection.
Trattoria Alle Due Torri
Streppe al pesto. Odd-looking pasta but generous surface area to soak up that pesto! Three pages in the menu dedicated to GF. House made bread rolls were fantastic.
Penne al pomodoro. Simple flavour done well. Also had delicious frittata here.
MONTEROSSO, CINQUE TERRE
Ristorante da Ely
Gnocchi al pesto. Really tender, in a superb pesto.
* Not all menus will promote the availability of GF options, but I found every cafe I enquired at was able to cater, even if only minimal choices. Risottos were generally fine (but still do ask, in case barley is in the stock). And salads are a pretty safe bet, if you’re ever really unsure.
* It’s customary to be served bread before your meal appears. If you’ve specified “senza glutine”, you’ll probably receive suitable rolls or crackers, which makes even a small dish satisfying.
* Social media is great as a research tool. Instagram is very helpful for dining recommendations.
I encourage all Coeliacs to explore Italy. It’s foodie heaven, even gluten free. Buon appetito!