Gluten and I have a toxic relationship. I am not coeliac, but let’s say when gluten and I get together the outcome is fun at the beginning, turns nasty shortly after and ends up hanging around for a long time afterwards.
Mostly, I try and eat “real” food. Nothing out of a packet and mostly cooked from scratch. Not entirely easy to follow when you travel.
Other foods can be an issue for me, including some fruits and vegetables and dairy products.
I have followed a Paleo diet in the past and loved it.
know what works for me, but I succumb to the dark side occasionally (or not so infrequently), especially when I travel.
The bottom line is 90% of the time I eat real food, nothing processed. I am 99% gluten-free. What it comes down to is does something make me feel good or not. Does it make me feel energised and healthy, or does it make me feel sluggish, headachy and sick?
In the past, travelling has been a significant issue for me and my dietary issues as I covered in a previous article How to Manage Dietary Issues when you Travel.
It has been a nightmare. All willpower went out the window and so did all good health. And when others can eat what they like without ill effect, you can find yourself in an awkward position. Room sharing is not always easy under those circumstances for everyone involved when you are continually running to the bathroom.
Gluten Intolerance in Italy
So, on my trip to Italy this year, I was determined to stay on the straight and narrow. It made a huge difference. I was also travelling with a Coeliac which made ordering gluten-free even easier.
The boutique hotel we stayed in, the Villa Marsili was excellent.
I have written about the Villa Marsili in a previous post, 3 Important Reasons to visit Cortona. They went above and beyond. The gluten-free food they served at breakfast was outstanding.
We had so many choices, taking so much care. Unfortunately, our stay in Venice proved somewhat harder for breakfast, the meals in restaurants were excellent though. The supermarkets do tend to stock an excellent gluten-free range (unfortunately that does fall under the processed category) for snacks, an excellent supplement to breakfast.
As it turns out, Italy is probably the best place for coeliacs and gluten intolerant travellers.
Italy has a high rate of coeliac disease. Italian children are tested for coeliac disease before the age of 6. A €140 monthly stipend is paid to those who have the disease, to assist with the higher cost of gluten-free food. These goods can be purchased in pharmacies because they are considered medicine.
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Overall, Italy was surprisingly easy for a gluten-intolerant traveller.
What a relief. Eating out meant I mostly chose from the Secondi (meat) section of the menu and occasionally the Contorni (vegetables) as well.
All the restaurants we visited were more than happy to accommodate for gluten-free, and most offer gluten-free pasta as well.
So no missing out on pasta if that’s what you had your heart set on.
Supermarkets also stock gluten-free products including the Schar brand which have a good variety of items.
We had a wonderful lunch in Pienza at La Buca di Enea, see their reviews on TripAdvisor.
We had joined a Wine Tour in Tuscany and lunch was included. This restaurant is a tiny place, and the owner is friendly and accommodating. He was quite the character.
The food was divine. Because we were on a group tour, everyone chose their lunch from a set menu including pasta and pizza with shared platters of cold meats, cheeses, bread and olive oil.
For the two of us who eat gluten-free, we were given gluten-free bread (the best I have ever tasted, and we could make our choices from the Secondi section of the menu.
What can I say? Everyone else was jealous!
I am an adventurous eater, more than most, but both of us found Italy easy. It was a delight and added to the wonderful time we had there. I am certainly looking forward to the next trip.