Please read my 2018 update!
Not many gluten-free travelers realize that coeliacs exist in Italy too.
The boot-shaped peninsula seems like the last place where you'd enjoy a gluten-free meal, what with all the pasta, pizza, bread, focaccia, salumi and other Italian specialties and staples. But celiacs in Italy can enjoy a large variety of gluten-free foods at every meal.
For example, mornings can have a sunny start with gluten-free croissants (cornetti senza glutine) along with steaming cappuccino. Midday snacks and main meals can include gluten-free panini, gluten-free pasta, gluten-free beer, gluten-free pizza, and even gluten-free gelato, served in a flour-less cone.
gluten: substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic tissue of dough. A mixture of two proteins, it causes disorders in people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities.Prompted by a celiac friend skeptical of traveling to Italy, I did a little research, tried various products and after a number of wheat-less meals, I came up with this little list of gluten-free dining options in Rome.
Hotel Diana Roof Garden - Dine sans wheat on a breathtaking terrace with sweeping views of the Vatican and tiled rooftops. Via Principe Amedeo, 4 (Esquilino) - Tel. +39 06478681
Polenta (slow-cooked cornmeal) is a typical northern Italian staple, and totally gluten-free.
Il Viaggio - Sitting in the pastel rooms of Il Viaggio, celiacs can pick from an impressive list of wheat-less dishes, from antipasto through dessert, and choose between 3 variegated tasting menus. Via Isonzo, 14 (Nomentano) - Tel. +39 0697997043
Giancarlone al 19 - Giancarlone cooks up some of the city's best homestyle Roman cuisine, with an eye for celiac pizza-lovers. Via Durazzo, 19 (Prati) - Tel. +39 0666014164
Mama! Eat - Appealing joint that serves up a plethora of delicious gluten-free options, including pizza, several pasta dishes, tasty grilled panini, desserts and beer. Via di San Cosimato, 7 (Trastevere) - Tel. +39 065806222
Renovatio | La Soffitta - Home to some of the best gluten-free cuisine in town. Specialties include antipasti, thin crust pizza, Roman pastas classics like carbonara, and homemade desserts. Piazza Risorgimento 46a (Vatican) - Tel. +39 0668892977
Beyond the city center:
Agriturismo Santa Anastasia - In the lovely setting of this rustic working farm and B+B minutes away from the center of town, the wood-fired brick oven and grill churn steaks and gluten-free pizzas until late at night. Via Torre Sant'Anastasia, 83 (Ardeatina) - Tel. +39 0671350361 - temporarily closed for renovation (2018)
Favorable facts for celiacs in Italy:
- In Italy celiacs receive a monthly allowance from the government for gluten-free foods.
- By law gluten-free foods must be available to celiacs in schools, hospitals, and public places, like malls and cinemas.
- All pharmacy products are required to indicate the presence of gluten on labels.
- All food labels must indicate the presence of gluten.
Associazione Italiana Celiachia ~ Italian celiac disease association
Cose dell'Altro Pane ~ Artisan GF products
Celiachiamo.com ~ Intolerance-awareness website, has now opened 2 shops in Rome
Glutenfree Roads ~ GF travel website
Celiacando ~ GF grocery store