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Friday, July 3, 2015

Traveling Gluten Free in Rome - #3 in my traveling GF on a budget series

Rome is one of my favourite cities, and I've been there twice, so it's fitting that it be #3 in my Traveling Gluten Free on a Budget series. I've also been through a few other cities in Italy, including  Bologna, Milan, Venice, Ravenna, and Ferrara. Most recently, though I was only in Rome, so these pictures are all from there.

Italy in general has much to offer foodies, and believe it or not, there are tons of gluten free options. I was there for the first time four years ago and then again three months ago, and things in the GF world have changed A LOT there. Italians usually know what it means to be celiac, and you might be shocked to find that you can actually get gluten free pizza, pasta, and bread in a lot of restaurants. To the extent that you'll return and be disappointed about the lack of options in North America.

I was ecstatic this time and ate my face off. Here are some of my recommendations for food and restaurants, as well as self-catering.

If you're looking for general tips on traveling gluten free on a budget, be sure to check out #1 in the series,  16 Tips for Traveling Gluten Free on a Budget.


Italians have a high level of awareness of gluten intolerance and celiac, and the GF sections in the markets of most major cities are conducive to self-catering. If you have a kitchenette all the better. Self-catering lunches and snacks is a great way to save money.

In downtown Rome I found a grocery store on Via Nationale near the corner of via Venezia called Desparo that had a very good gluten free section. (Sorry for the crappy photos, most of them were taken covertly with my cell phone in poor lighting!) Everything in this photo was GF - breads, crackers, mini-cakes, flour mixes, etc. 

I picked up a loaf of GF bread and some delicious GF plum cakes to snack on. 

We also grabbed some rice cakes, olives, cream cheese, and smoked salmon. Soooo good for making lunches on the fly and saving $$. 


Like in Greece, (see my post on traveling Gluten Free in Greece for more info) hotel breakfasts in Italy (usually included in the cost of the hotel) are very satisfying. Some hotels will go out of their way to get you GF bread, while others just have a ton of options. Sometimes I bring a slice or two of my own bread to round out my meal.

Breakfasts usually include hard-boiled or freshly scrambled eggs, fruit, cappuccino, espresso, or regular coffee, and yogurt.

Meal and Restaurant Suggestions

Most salads in Italy are gluten free, and many are very, very filling. Dressing is usually a DIY affair with olive oil, vinegar (either balsamic or red wine), and salt. I have a strong preference for a tuna salad, or a Sicilian one. These are usually ginormous bowls of salad with all kinds of things like hard-boiled eggs, olives, tomatoes, and whatever else you like. 

Like in Greece, I've also found portion sizes to be large in Italy, so to save $$ I recommend ordering a little less than you think you'll eat. Or share with others! 

Risottos are usually safe, as are various appetizer dishes like pickled eggplant and other veggies, omelettes (I've noticed these becoming more popular in Italian restaurants), olives, and cheese. 

If you're not vegan or lactose intolerant, may I recommend stuffing your face full of the delicious and cheap buffalo mozzarella to be had everywhere in Italy??

Furthermore, as I mentioned above, a lot of restaurants offer gluten free pasta, pizza, and bread, so if you don't see it on the menu, do ask! 

Some of my favourite restaurants in downtown Rome include:

Grotta D'Abruzzo on Via Palermo. Very good, reasonably priced food with excellent service. I've had their Caprese salad, tuna salad, and seafood risotto. They also have GF pasta. Dinner usually comes with a free appy plate that includes pickled eggplant, omelettes, chickpeas, and olives. 

If you go, look for Sergio, an older waiter who speaks like 5 different languages (he helped my husband practice his Italian and me with my French! We overheard him speaking in German and Spanish with other tables). Say hello to him from Danielle and Alex in Canada ;)

Caprese Salad from Grotta D'Abruzzo

Appetizer dish from Grotta D'Abruzzo

When in Italy, you must also try Limoncello. Then, if you like it, try making it yourself using my recipe!

Sooo as we were wandering around the Pantheon, we came across this sign:

And I thought, Heck yes!!

So we ended up eating there. 3 times. The place is called Zafferino on Via Delle Coppelle just off Via Della Scrofa. They have GF Beer, Pizza, Pasta, Bruschetta, and Tiramiso. It was pretty amazing (and very reasonable. The pizza is enough for 2 to share, or take some back to your hotel for later!)

GF Bruschetta at Zafferino

GF Pizza

GF Tiramiso

Another place I'm a fan of that we've been to twice is 075Roma, or zerosettantacinque. It's behind Palatine Hill in what looks like a tiny little bar (but opens up into a larger space) on Via dei Cerchi, 65 near Circo Massimo. I like their huge salads, and they offer GF rice cracker thingies as well.

So of course there are many others, but these are some favourites of mine in the downtown area. If you're looking for more tips for traveling GF on a budget, check out my 16 Tips for Traveling Gluten Free on a Budget.

As always, I recommend learning a few words in Italian and being polite when asking for help and food suggestions! It goes a long way to ensuring good will, and could help get you a free desert or drink, too ;)  

Stay tuned for #4 in this series - Traveling Gluten Free in Paris on a Budget!

View from the top of Hadrian's mausoleum, one of my favorites places :)

Have you been to Italy? Do you have any tips for traveling gluten free? 

Also in this series:

This post was shared on the following great link parties: Hearth and Soul, Allergy Free Wednesday,


  1. I was in Italy 9 years ago and didn't notice GF pasta or pizza. So glad, just like here, it's becoming available.

    1. I was there 4 years ago and didn't see it advertised, but this year I saw a lot more advertisements for it, and a couple of places told me they have GF pasta but it wasn't on their menu. It was great :)

  2. I have never been to ROME but I am DYING to go!!!!! I know I would leave with five pounds! LOL!

    1. You'd be surprised! Every time I go I come back super toned despite how much I eat - then again, if you spend all day walking it's almost inevitable. Except in Greece. Heck I went hiking in Greece almost every day for two weeks in the peak of summer and thanks to all the olive oil they use in their cooking I didn't lose a single pound!

  3. I was so interested to read this post, Danielle! I've been to Rome twice and I always thought that of all places it would likely be the most challenging for those on a gluten free diet. It is so good to know that things have changed and that there are lots of good gluten free options available. Thank you so much for sharing this helpful post with The Hearth and Soul hop.

    1. It's changed A LOT since I was there 4 years ago - tons of places now advertise GF items, and those that don't usually have some options if you ask. It's fantastic. That said, I was looking forward to trimming down like I did last time since I expected to just subsist on salad. Even with all the walking we do in Rome it's hard to trim down when you're eating pizza all day ;)


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