Italian cuisine is famous for its pasta and pizza. One could argue that most Tuscan dishes are gluten-based. Does that mean that a celiac should fast his or her way through Tuscany or avoid the place altogether?
Though it took years for awareness to build, most restaurants now have some form of gluten-free dishes. In a big city like Florence where options abound, I recommend selecting AIC (Italian Celiac Association) approved restaurants. Those businesses are regularly monitored and are given training on the risks of cross-contamination.
This article will give you some recommendations for gluten-free eateries as well as some key Italian expressions you can use to communicate your needs.
Traditional Recipes with a Gluten-Free Twist
Hostaria il Desco is the gateway restaurant to explore traditional Tuscan recipes such as pappardelle al cinghiale (pasta with wild boar meat sauce) safely. Located in the narrow Via delle Terme 23/r, smack in the middle of the historical center, this romantic restaurant is quite small and can get crowded at weekends. Call ahead of time and warn them you want a gluten-free meal. Contact number: (0039) 055/294882.
Panini al Lampredotto
A traditional Florentine recipe that dates back to the Renaissance, this Tuscan street food is a must for fearless foodies. The Osteria Tripperia Il Magazzino in Piazza della Passera 2/9 offers lampredotto sandwiches with gluten-free bread as well as other Celiac-friendly dishes. Contact number: (0039) 055/215969.
A visit to Tuscany would be incomplete without pizza. Ciro & Sons serves gluten-free Neapolitan style pizzas in Via Del Giglio 28r. This pizzeria has even won a world championship for the best gluten-free pizza, so rest assured you will be in good hands. The venue also receives bonus points for making their whole menu, from starters to desserts, also available in a celiac version. Contact number: (0039)055/289694.
Visitors with a sweet tooth might want to drop by the gluten-free bakery Starbene Senza Glutine in Via dei Neri, 13/r. Their filled beignets are definitely worth the trip. This pastry shop also serves bread and other savory options. Perfect for a quick stop or take away sandwich to be enjoyed in one of Florence’s many parks and gardens.
All Italian supermarkets have a gluten-free section that could come in handy for snacks or home-cooked meals. Should you not be sure whether the eatery you are heading to is gluten-free or serves gluten-free dishes, feel free to bring your own bread or crackers along to accompany your main or salad. Make sure to use the following sentences to double-check that your waiter understands your situation.
A Few Key Expressions
- Sono allergico al glutine – I’m allergic to gluten
- Non posso mangiare glutine – I can’t eat gluten
- Sono celiaca (for women) / Sono celiaco (for men) – I am celiac
- È senza glutine? – Is it without gluten?
- Servite cibo senza glutine? – Do you serve gluten-free food?
Eating for Italians is first and foremost a sociable experience. Partaking in food is an inclusive moment (hence the endless choices to guarantee that everyone gets something to his or her liking). This is probably why though Celiacs represent less than 1% of the Italian population, most eateries will try to cater to their needs and Florence is a great place to get started!