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01 October 2007

eating gluten-free in Italy

wild boar and truffle salami

It was so easy.

All I had to say was, "Io sono celiaco." That's it. No apologies, no shrugging of shoulders, no endless stories of how my intestines work if I ingest 1/4 teaspoon of gluten. In the States, I often feel like an other when I go to restaurants, or, at best - an advocate for the rest of us. Sometimes, I feel like I never stop talking about what it means to live gluten-free, because I am always having to explain myself.

But in Italy, after I said "Io sono celiaco," or sometimes simply the phrase "senza glutine," I could move onto other conversations. Better yet, I could tuck my fork into my food and not have to worry if I could take another bite.

I didn't feel different there. I didn't have to feel like I was making trouble. Asking for food without gluten was as effortless as saying I preferred water without ice. Or beef instead of pork. I was simply a diner, being taken care of, and well.

You see, in every place we ate in Italy, the waiters and chefs understood. From what I have been told (both here and in Italy), the Italian people have been educated about celiac. Children are now routinely tested for the disease before kindergarten, a test as ritualized as a standard set of vaccinations. If you work in food in Italy, you know how to feed people well, no matter what their allergies and concerns. And here is my favorite fact: adults with diagnosed celiac in Italy are given two days a month off, with pay, to go search out their food.

I'm telling you, we were tempted just to stay there.

Foligno before the Quintana

Because celiac is a recognized medical condition, most drug stores in Italy (called "farmacias") have an entire shelf of gluten-free foods. Not all of them did, when we walked in. The smaller the town, the more farmacias you might have to visit before you find gluten-free bread. But we never visited a town that didn't have at least a little: a box of gluten-free biscotti for nibbling; a gluten-free baguette for dunking in garlicky sauce; a package of gluten-free bread crumbs for creating dishes at home.

In Assisi, the first day we were there, I walked into the farmacia to investigate, since I had read about this before. Three steps in from the door, I stopped. That shelf contained more gluten-free products than I had seen at Whole Foods the week before. Tears welled up in my eyes. I can't explain it, other than to say this - I felt heard. I felt I existed there. I didn't feel so weird.

The bread, made by Dr. Schaer, lasted for two days. I tore one part of the small baguette into strips, and ate it with my cheese plate, for the antipasti I ate at the beginning of lunch that day. The next morning, the Chef and I ate breakfast in bed, with slices of bread and prosciutto. I'm telling you, it's not a bad way to go.

Every one of the packaged gluten-free foods I ate in Italy was infinitely better than the ones I have eaten here. The pasta by Bi-Aglut was great, better than my old standby, Tinkyada. I don't know why this surprised me, but it did. I studied every label, and most of my favorite bread rolls and baked goods contained corn flour, which I rarely use. Expect a lot of experimenting around here.

However, every one of my favorite line of products was made by a company called Giusto. Chocolate croissants, people. To my sadness, I cannot find a single distributor of their products in North America. If anyone knows of a source, let me know!

the breakfast room at the B and B

Breakfast is the only difficulty for those of us trying to eat gluten-free in Italy.

Most Italians have small breakfasts, nibbling on croissants, or toast with jam. When we walked into the breakfast room of our bed and breakfast in Rome (the photograph above), we were charmed by the homey table setting. But I was alarmed to see so much gluten on the table. Little cookies everywhere. Luckily, I had my supplies, and Eduardo provided me with prosciutto. I did just fine.

Still, if you are going to Italy, and you must gluten-free, it will be infinitely easier to start off your day with food if you stay in an apartment or a bed and breakfast where they can accommodate you.

morning coffee

And who is going to complain about the mornings when there is coffee like this?

We live in Seattle. I thought we drank good coffee.

We do now, because we brought cans of Illy coffee home with us.

Drink all the coffee you can while you are there. It will never taste the same, away from Rome.

on the table at Mastro Giorgio

Slow down and enjoy your lunch.

In Gubbio — a tiny town nestled against a mountain in Umbria — we ate a three-hour lunch in a quietly spectacular restaurant called Fornace di Mastro Giorgio. The food and decor were hushed fine dining, but the atmosphere made us feel like we were in a family home. Our friends Jen and Federico recommended it to us, and we are glad we listened. A few days later, we moaned about how much we enjoyed our meal. Jen exclaimed, "Oh, you should have told us in advance you were going. They are friends of ours. They would have taken care of you." But there was no need. As strangers off the street, we were treated like kings and queens.

When the waiter brought the table an amuse bouche of roasted barley and vegetables, I demurred. A moment later, a small martini glass appeared before me, filled with fresh buffalo mozzarella, bright-red bites of tomato, and a flourish of green olive oil. I have never tasted anything so good in my life.

For my main course, the waiter flourished a Tuscan beefsteak before me, on an enormous platter. The chefs had already cut up the steak into slivers before it arrived in front of me. At first, I wondered if they thought me a child. But then, the salt tray appeared. The waiter gave me six different salts - Himalayan pink salt; Hawaiian volcanic black salt; Normandy sea salt, etc. - and suggested I try each strip of steak with a different salt. I love salt, but I have rarely tasted the difference between each one so exquisitely on my tongue.

What could follow such a course? A dessert served on a piece of black slate. As I sat in this room, built in the 1300s, I looked down at my plate to see a white meringue, a small cup of vanilla gelato (with meringue pieces mixed in), and a smaller cup of hot chocolate sauce so smooth that I could see the reflection of my face in it when I leaned in for a look. All of it rested on a jagged piece of black slate. After I licked the back of my spoon for the last taste, I said to the waiter, "That slate as presentation? Fantastic."
He shrugged his shoulders and said, "It came from the roof."

Who could miss gluten in the midst of this?

black truffle risotto

In Norcia — a town so well known for its exemplary pork products that the best butchers in Italy are called Norcineras — the entire town smells of truffles. As we walked down the main street, a young woman came out of a hotel restaurant and gestured us in. We all of us (the Chef and I, as well as Hubert and Pat) skirted away, thinking it was a tourist trap. The other restaurant that had been recommended by another Italian friend was closed for lunches on Wednesday, though. We doubled back to the first place, still a little wary, but drawn into the smell. I asked a waitress about my chances of eating safely. In broken English and voluminous hand gestures, she told me that two celiac chefs worked there. That made our decision. When the waiter set down a sizzling platter of black-truffle risotto before me, I couldn’t speak for a moment.

Later, we went on a search for chocolate with truffles. (I can't seem to get enough of truffles, now.) One little shop, tucked into the corner of town, looked unassuming at first. But inside were walls of chocolates, and that haunting smell that causes me to wolf down scents with my nose as though I had never smelled before. The two older ladies offered us a small plate of broken pieces of chocolate. I almost reached, but I asked, first. When I explained that I have celiac, the older woman raised her eyebrows in recognition. She thumped her chest with her hand, and said, "I. Celiac." She shooed me away from the profferred plate - that one had farro in it - came around the counter, took my hand, and led me to the wall of chocolates. With a jabbing finger, she pointed out every single chocolate in the store that I could eat.

Every day, when I eat a tiny bite of dark chocolate with black truffles here at home, I think of the kindness of that woman, and how much alike we are, halfway across the world.

Sicilian cassata with a gluten-free cone

In Rome, on the last day of the honeymoon, the Chef and I ate our last cup of gelato. We had eaten gelato every day. To skip that creamy treat would have been a sin. (Thank goodness we walked at least five miles a day.) Eating was easy, because every gelateria offered cups along with cones. Just as I was savoring my last bite, I looked up at the counter-top. Startled, I stood up and ran toward it — a box labeled “Il Cono per Tutti.” A cone for everyone. A gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free ice cream cone. Even though I had just finished a cup of gelato, I ordered a cone.

How could I resist?

salumi and drinks at the Central Bar

In the culture that loves and lives in food, eating gluten-free is graciously easy. Besides pizza and pasta, food in Italy also means grilled sardines, chickpea crepes, chewy salumi, and forest chicken roasted in myrtle and wild thyme. Since a significant percentage of Italian people suffer from celiac, the food producers intend to create the best gluten-free food in the world.

In ten delicious days of eating through Italy with my darling husband, I never once grew sick. We ate in restaurants for lunch and dinner, every day, and I never suffered from cross-contamination. I have never eaten so well in my life.

Of course, coming home wasn't that easy.

On our 10 1/2-hour plane-ride home (after horrendous lines at the Rome airport, and a missed flight), we found that the gluten-free meal I ordered for the plane ride had gone missing, erroneously given to another customer. The same thing had happened on the way over (Delta Airlines, what is wrong with you?), but I had been able to prepare and pack food for the trip that time. It's always harder on the way back.

When the Chef realized I would have to go nearly 11 hours without eating, he actually started crying. "Oh sweetie," I said, putting my hand on the back of his neck. "I'll be okay."
"I know you will," he said. "But I just want my wife to be able to eat. It isn't too much to ask."

Oh, how I love him.

After eleven hours without any food, we wandered the giant Atlanta airport where we had a four-hour layover before flying home. The Chef and I walked for forty-five minutes, desperate to find a place that looked safe enough for me. I actually cried this time. The contrast after being in Italy was just so stark. Weak from hunger, I finally settled on a bar where I could order a hamburger without a bun and a salad without dressing.

I grew sick. I was sick for the first three days we were home.

It shouldn’t be this hard.


At 12:08 AM, Blogger Zelda said...

Isnt it amazing the different attitude? I'd LOVE for someone to understand that while I wont necessarily be ILL if I eat gluten (unlike you) - its probably much better for all involved if I dont.

At 12:52 AM, Blogger Livs lerreter og annet said...

I so enjoy to read your blog. Usually I call a restaurant or a hotel before visiting, to eat safely. The best ones will make bread so that I too can enjoy the meals. The funniest call was to a small restaurant in Oslo, Norway. The person answering wondered if I came in a wheelchair!! After explaining what celiac disease is, we both understood that a visit to this restaurant was not possible as they used marinade including soya sauce.
After your wonderfull description of Italy, I will not be afraid to go there.

At 3:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gluten girl, I'm not a particularly religious person, but I thank the higher up for you and this blog.

Just knowing someone feels or has experienced the same feelings and has gone through the same journey.

I've never been worried about the "glass ceiling" but have experienced the glass wall of gluten. One minute I would be fine and then bam, I would be flattened and ill.

When you say you felt like crying I understand!

Shawn Burdue Pierce

At 4:45 AM, Blogger Daniela said...

My Mom started sending me gluten free stuff from Europe and a lot of products are from Italy. You know Dr. Schaer, right? In Austria they sell gluten-free part-baked ciabatta rolls which are to die for! And their gluten free selection of cookies and snack food is just amazing. I wish they would sell more of those things in the US (especially the bread!)

I am sorry to hear that Delta Airline messed up your food order. I do understand that you started crying in Atlanta. There is nothing worse than being jetlagged and hungry :(

At 5:21 AM, Blogger madre-terra said...

Transported again. Just about every morning my plump butt rises from the chair and I ascend into a land of heightened scensory. I get to start me day being reminded of the beauty of it all. Of life, of love, of it all.
How wonderful to hear about Italy. We are in the middle of planning a trip to Paris for a very special birthday for our daughter. She wants to become a chef and wants to do a restaurant tour and go and see Cordon Blue. I'm thinking Italy is where we should go. If we get to Paris I will never in a million years be able to write about it as you would.
Thanks for my inspirational mornings.

At 5:43 AM, Anonymous Tracy said...

Wow, the difference is amazing.

I miss the coffee too. We used up the last of our Italian beans a few weeks ago.

At 6:09 AM, Blogger Pam said...

I have the most incredible cream cheese stuffed pumpkin bread recipe - would you like it? Send me an email

Seriously good bread and you just can't have Thanksgiving without some sort of pumpkin dessert:)

At 6:23 AM, Anonymous Caroline said...

That's the thing about Italian food, it's really not all bread and pasta (and cheese) like Italian-American cuisine would have you believe.

It DOES seem like a lot of Italians have Celiac-- I'm of Italian descent and at least a little gluten sensitive, though I've never been tested for it. I love that they get time off of work just for having Celiac!

At 6:29 AM, Blogger Carrie said...

No, it absolutely shouldn't be that hard!

Wow... I really must visit Italy!! I love how easily you made friends with every store owner and waitress. I'm still a little nervous about asking if (insert any food item here) is made with any kind of wheat, rye, oats, etc... Please check the package! I will get used to the frustration... but Italy sounds so wonderful!!

I love your pictures!! Please keep writing about Italy! I'm in love!

At 6:30 AM, Blogger firefly said...

I agree wholeheartedly, even more so because like 50 percent of celiacs I can't eat anything with casein in it.

It would be interesting to see the same 11 days in Italy without gelato or any kind of cheese (that lets risotto, pesto, and insalata di caprese with mozzarella di bufalo, not to mention capuccino, out as well).

What is really needed is education about all forms of food sensitivities and allergies, not just gluten. The American diet is full of things that are there because of industry muscle (like high-fructose corn syrup) not because they present a balanced nutritional or taste palette or even because farmers can and will produce them.

I went to Rome about 7 years ago, before I discovered I had food sensitivities, and I hope to go back someday, but I'll have to learn the Italian for 'no dairy' as well.

At 6:55 AM, Blogger Shannon said...

Your recent posts are making me want to hop a plane to Italy! I hope you two will put your talents to good use and be able to share some nice recipes soon ;-)

Thanks so much for this blog. It's very inspiring.

At 7:14 AM, Blogger celeste said...

i'm even more in love with italy after reading of your adventures there....cannot wait to visit with my sweetie.
did you buy an extra suitcase to fill with all the glorious products you describe?

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Deb Schiff said...

So happy Italy was wonderful for you! Also, very sad about the awful homecoming, but grateful the Chef is such a mensch.

At 7:20 AM, Anonymous lynn said...

Oh, sweetie, I wouldn't blame you for sprinting back to Italy. How wonderful to be in a place where people understand and it's not big deal. And you don't get sick!

At 7:37 AM, Blogger Tevis said...

I find it so concerning that people are extremely uneducated about celiac disease in the U.S. I recently was stuck in the JFK airport for hours and hours and the only thing I could eat was a banana, apple and an orange from a cafe. What kind of lunch is that? I think to avoid this ever happening again, I will have to move to Italy and enjoy food again. I greatly apprecaite this post. It gives us hope that things will soon change.

At 7:53 AM, Blogger April said...

My family and I are going to Rome in December. I have never traveled overseas and I was concerned about what I would eat as a Celiac in the land of bread and pasta :)

Thank you so much for the comfort I received from reading your post today. I am now very excited about our trip! The information about the "farmacias" is priceless.

Thank you so much for sharing. I have enjoyed your blog for more than a year now and I am looking forward to your book. I have even recommended to our local Whole Foods that they carry it when it comes out!

At 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read in Living Without that Sweden is a good about celiac disease as well.

At 8:14 AM, Anonymous CeliacChick said...

Corn flour? Hmm...a lot of people, including myself are allergic to it. My biggest fear is that, like europe, the U.S. will start putting corn flour in all of it's gluten-free products, but for now it seems like there is a wide variety of flours being used.

I posted a comment about breakfast being hard in Venice on your last post, but it didn't seem to make it into the comments section. :/

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Gaile said...

wow, the contrast is astounding isn't it? i'm so sorry you got sick - and as for Delta you should call and complain. Who knows, maybe they'll give you a voucher for your trouble. And thanks for letting all of us know that italy is safe - i would love to visit someday now.

At 9:31 AM, Anonymous jenmoocat said...

I am sitting here at work, at 9:30 in the morning, with tears in my eyes.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful words and images and stories of Italy.....

Then, as soon as you started writing about the trip home....

As soon as I READ the word "airport" --- my stomach got tight and my shoulders got tense. For me, so many trips that I think about are aborted before I even start planning them because of how much I hate airports and flying and planes.... Not hate as in "afraid" -- just the whole rigamarole..... And I don't even have celiac!

Big hug for you!

At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barley? Really? A few of your previous eating out posts had me querying your celiac diagnosis (is it self-diagnosed?) such as the fries at the baseball (e.g. cross conotamination, dextrose in the fries bothers many celiacs), but barley? That is a glutenous product and if you ate it without reaction then you certainly have a misdiagnosis (probably not something you want to hear given your new book). But as a pedeatrician, I am concerned that you are in fact allergic to something else and not gluten (and also, of course, that you promulgate foods that are glutenous).

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Bengali Chick said...

WOW. AMAZED. 2 days off from work a month? I would have thought Italians weren't gf friendly/educated b/c there are so many pasta/bread dishes. I think I need to go and visit.

At 10:02 AM, Blogger nicole said...

I'm sorry you got sick :( I also flew Delta to Greece this summer, and on the way back through Atlanta, I wandered around looking for something vegetarian ... and eventually ended up eating an icky bean burrito. I really wanted a Greek salad in that moment!

But how wonderful Italy is so 'gluten-friendly.' Europeans seem so much more live-and-let-live sometimes -- like, you're a celiac? A vegetarian? No biggie, here's what you can eat. When I was in Tuscany years ago we told out agritourismo hostess we were vegetarians, worrying it would make things very complicated ... and she said "Oh, my sons don't eat much meat!" and that was that. No problem at all.

Now I'm wanting to go back to Italia to visit ...

At 10:21 AM, Blogger sweetpea said...

Wow, I guess I should have gone to Italy rather than Paris where it was impossible to find any GF food. I think the well meaning peditrician misread your post. I too would pine over a barley salad but it sounds like something equally wonderful was delivered to the table especially for you. O.K. on to to book tour details! I read somewhere your going to NYC, how fun.

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous pediatrician,

Please read more carefully. You’ll note that she "demurred", which is a lovely way of saying that she indicated she could not eat the dish with barley. A different amuse was brought in its place.

As far as questioning her diagnosis, I suspect that is a bit much to be doing for someone who presumably has never met the woman. Especially when you base the information on a less-than-accurate reading of her work.

I will say though, your assumptions about what is and isn't bothersome for celiacs is interesting to me. I have only experienced the other end of the spectrum, with doctors telling me that I (and other diagnosed celiacs) are simply crazy when we report sickness from things like our vegetables being "steamed" (read: boiled) in pasta water. I suppose having doctors err on the other side is a bit refreshing.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger Slacker Mom (aka Mrs. GF) said...

I love hearing about your trip, your honeymoon. My husband and I went to the countryside of France for ours, and although a different country, the attitude, and the feeling seems the same. Thanks for refreshing those memories.

You are blessed with the gift of the pen.

Glad to hear that the journey to my grandparents country will be joyous. After reading "Eat, Love, Pray", and that part about Naples and the pizza, I was nearly crying thinking about going there..seeing the streets that she walked I feel like I could go... and still eat, deliciously and culturally.

Have a great day.

At 1:12 PM, Blogger Jeanne said...

I totally agree with you! I had the same experience on an 8 hour layover at the Houston airport. Sad and frustrating. Also, not only is it bad that we can never find anything to eat here, but it's even worse to be made fun of. Have seen the PEMCO Seattle "trading cards?" The slogan is: We're A Lot Like You. Check out #78. I can't understand why they would make fun of medical issues.

At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Kathryn said...

Good news- I googled a bit and found a site that sells both Bi-Aglut and Dr. Schar (with an umlaut in this case & not the alternate e). It is: I haven't googled Giusto, yet, but maybe there's hope for that.

At 1:59 PM, Anonymous fidget said...

Italy has moved to the top of my dream vacations list

At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Moby said...

On Sunday we booked a spring trip to Italy, and now you've added to my happy anticipation. What culinary pleasures you describe.....thank you!

At 2:58 PM, Anonymous Lisa said...

Thank you for this. My three children have all recently been diagnosed with celiac. My test was negative, so we are just waiting for my husband to be tested. He's been putting it off--I assume because he doesn't want to know--but I think this post might help convince him to take the leap. He's Italian-American; we honeymooned in Itay as well and go back as often as we can.

At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Adrienne said...

Shauna, I started reading your blog several months ago, after my diagnosis. Love it.

We had planned to take a trip this fall, but I just didn't feel that I could deal with the challenge on an international scale yet. (I’m not coping all that well stateside…) Yet when I started reading your posts about Italy, *I* cried, completely understanding what you meant when you said tears welled up while you searched for gf food. I read on in amazement. So now I’m going, and like you, I may just consider staying there. ;)

At 3:06 PM, Blogger Freckled Face Mama said...

Throughout your whole post I cried. I cried out of happiness for you, the life that Italy has to offer those with celiac, the beauty of such an amazing country (I would love to live there forever), and then when you were "welcomed" home with the ignorance that abounds here in the United States. I so look forward to the many more stories you have of your adventure to Italy. My folks leave in six weeks for 10 days to Italy and I have directed them here to tempt their palate. Oh, I almost forgot... I am super excited about your book FINALLY coming out! Yahooooo!

At 3:33 PM, Anonymous verismo said...


Your writing here has done more for me on my journey to a gluten free life than any other single source or person. Because you are so open with your life and feelings, I feel that I know you, a little. Your joy in eating and in love give me hope. Corny, but true. :)

I got a call for a cruise gig to Italy the same day that you posted "Lune del Miele." (I'm a classical pianist) This seems beyond random. I'm not normally mystical, but your experience and my life seem to be running a parallel.

Furthermore, I got the confirmation of the job this morning, on my birthday!

My health is a little iffy right now, but I am saying "yes" to this experience, just like you have taught me.

And "Io sono celiaco" has become my joyous mantra, not the dreaded intonation that begins any meal in a restaurant.

Gratsie Mille per tutti!!

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Let Them (not) Eat Cake said...

Wow, going to a place where I don't have to feel like such an oddball inconvenience and explain myself constantly. Sounds like a dream!! Maybe someday...
Thanks for your story, you're an encouragement to so many Celiacs!

At 4:17 PM, Blogger moonshae said...

Melbournians are spoilt - Illy coffee is available in supermarkets and many cafes. Spiga Bar (in Melbourne Central) serves awesome Gluten Free food and their pasta of choice is Bi Agult. The Sunnybrook Healthfood store in Ormond sells this fantastic pasta but it's $10 a packet. Not an everyday treat but cheaper than a trip to Italy.

At 6:41 PM, Anonymous beatgrl said...

I got teary eyed when I read about your plane ride and airport experience.

Being a long time "slow food" lover, I've dreamed of eating my way around Italy.

Now that I know how GF friendly it is, I'm even more inspired.

A pasta better than Tinkyada?

Thanks for the blog, I'll be back often. Cheers!

At 8:07 PM, Blogger What? said...

roggyI too have coeliac and I am from Melbourne. You can also get Bi Aglut pasta from a shop on Lygon street (of course!) which is also an Italian Resturant that caters for Coeliac Disease.

I have just discovered Sunnybrook to *bliss*.

To whomever metioned the allergy to cornflour, a lot of cornflour is wheaten cornflour. You need to get pure cornflour. Unless you were referring to an allergy to corn - then ignore what i said.

At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it really hard to imagine not walking to the back of the plane and asking for a piece or fruit, a bag of peanuts and/or some cheese. All these things are available when one needs them, but you have to make the effort to seek them out. I made a 16 hr. trip and saw this several times. Next time, check! Glad you had such a good time in Italy!! Cece

At 1:13 AM, Blogger Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

It also struck me when I moved here...everyone in Italy has about 15 million different intolerances, allergies, and preferences. I have several friends who are gluten-free or lactose-intolerant but they always manage to find something to eat, usually without even having to ask.

My vegan friends are having a harder time.

At 6:04 AM, Blogger Erin S. said...

What a wonderful trip. It is so unfortunate that the US isn't as advanced for us celiacs as Europe is. I cannot wait to get to Italy in 2008!

At 7:10 AM, Blogger Tiffany said...

If you haven't read "Under the Tuscan Sun," you absolutely should!

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pediatrician who made comment above obviously neglected to glance beyond the forbidden "barley" word before hastily passing judgment on both your medical condition and fabulous efforts to help those of us with gluten intolerance rediscover our passion for food.

"When the waiter brought the table an amuse bouche of roasted barley and vegetables, I demurred. A moment later, a small martini glass appeared before me, filled with fresh buffalo mozzarella, bright-red bites of tomato, and a flourish of green olive oil. I have never tasted anything so good in my life. "

Thank you for giving us such graceful portrayal of having your needs and desires so perfectly met!

Until today, I'd come to accept the fact that I must forgo this tasty little profferal at many a special meal. All too often, these initial offerings are brought to the table with crispy breadcrumbs strewn atop or swimming in flour-thickened sauce. A tragic tale of flavor deprivation and automated surrender of otherwise delicious morsels to one's unaffected dining companions.

Well, surrender no more! What a delight to know that accommodations can (and will) be made, even from the very first first bite!

At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in Sicily this past March with my mother. I could not believe how incredibly easy it was to eat in Italy, and the fact that I could say "sono una celiaca" and have that mean something - in even the most provincial little trattoria - was amazing.

At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Carlin Saldanha said...

first of all I really enjoy your blog, and have referred a lot of gluten-free patients I have to your site for recipes (I'm a naturopath). Not only do I think you're a great reference for gluten free recipes, but also a role model for how to live life positively and with a great attitude and zest, which I think is just as important (or more) for health than just what you eat.

I did check out the Dr. Shar product website, because I thought I would use it to recommend to gluten-free people. However, I have to say as a naturopath I was really disappointed in some of the ingredients in their products. Whole food it is not. By this I mean ingredients such as yeast, dextrose, soy protein isolate, thickener E63, sugar, modified maize starch, E475 emulsifier, "flavouring", and ammonium hydrgen carbonate all come up repeatedly in product ingredient lists. None of these are whole foods, nor are a lot of them great for health. That's why I always recommend, when possible, making your own food with whole ingredients to those on restricted diets (like your recipes using teff flour, agave syrup, etc). I know during travel it's difficult, but I just don't think it's advisable in general for people on gluten free diets to count on products filled with ingredients like these.

At 7:08 PM, Blogger shauna said...


I know. I think the difference is that where we were in Italy, people really live in food. As much as they love pizza, pasta, and bread, people understand the connection between food and health.


I know. Some people still want to think we’re diseased. I actually always call it celiac, instead of celiac disease. I don’t feel diseased at all!


Thank you so much for your kind words. We are all in this together. The more we share our story, the more we can recognize ourselves.


I would love to try those part-baked ciabattas! As the awareness of gluten-free grows, the availability of products will as well.


Oh my dear, your description delighted me! But go to Paris. There is nothing like Paris. And you will find your own words.


I know. I’m still gob-smacked by the difference.


Is your pumpkin bread a gluten-free recipe? By all means, send it to me!


I love the way that the Italians have responded to this. But the Irish have plenty of celiac as well, and the Aherns are Irish!


You know, the waiters and chefs we encountered were so well educated on celiac that I didn’t have to quiz them or feel scared. That was the heavenly part — just feeling safe.


I agree entirely with your ideas about American food. Everything we ate in Italy — minus the gluten-free packaged foods! — was fresh and in season. There just didn’t seem to be much processed foods.

And you know, I saw soy gelato in a number of places where we indulged. I think you’d be okay there.


Hop on that plane!

As I explained in the last post, we will be sharing recipes again soon. But it is so damned busy around here right now. The Chef is about to launch a new recipe, which requires all his attention. And I’m emailing and telephoning ten hours a day, setting up a book tour. Soon!


You know, we intended to bring plenty of gluten-free foods home. But the last day in Rome was spent at the Vatican, and we just didn’t feel like running around again after that. We brought some. But it’s just one more reason to go back.

Deb Schiff,

You found the right word. Mensch he is. He didn’t know that word before I taught it to him, because it describes him so well.


Wonderful it was.


I’m so sorry about your time at JFK. I have decided that airports are the bane of my celiac existence. WE have to change this!


Have a wonderful time. Do all the research for yourself, learn how to say it in Italian, and I think you’ll have a safe, incredible time.

Oh, and thank you for asking Whole Foods. Keep that up!


I’ve read that about Sweden as well. I’d like to try to eat there as well!


Yes, I know about the corn flour. It’s so hard to make everyone safe. I’ll play with it a bit, but I’ll keep making plenty of treats without it too!

(your comment is there on that other post now!)


I’ll try with Delta. But I don’t think it is just them. Instead, I think it’s the general attitude toward food allergies in this country.


Thank you so much for your sympathy! I’m about to spend a lot of time in airports, so I’m going to plan ahead much better this time.

Anonymous pediatrician,

As several people have pointed out, you seem to have mis-read my piece. I passed on the barley. I would never eat barley! I demurred. That’s why they brought me fresh mozzarella instead. Also, you seem to have mis-read another post, because I have never eaten French fries at the ballpark. I wrote a piece back in April, saying that we ate at the alehouse across the street from the ballpark, and I had to pass on the fries.

If you are going to make such disparaging remarks, I would ask you to read more carefully.

Also (and this is for everyone), if you are going to comment under anonymous, please leave your name so I can address you as something other than anonymous!

Bengali Chick,

It was an endlessly surprising culture. So wonderful.


I love that you had that experience at the agriturismo. I felt like a member of the family, everywhere we went.


Thanks for pointing that out for the other commenter. And the book tour? That’s going up tonight!


Thank you for standing up for me as well! I agree that many doctors just don’t understand. I have a hard time believing that the disparaging commenter is actually a pediatrician.

Slacker Mom,

You know, that book was one of the original inspirations for our honeymoon in Italy. I love it so. You will find your own experience there.


I have no idea why people make fun of food allergies, but it happens all the time. Hopefully, we can change people’s minds.


Yes, I’ve seen B-Aglut and Dr. Schar available online in the States. But Giusto? No sign of it yet!


Goodness, I feel like I should work for the Italian tourist board! Yes, do go.


Tell your husband to take the plunge and be diagnosed. It’s worth it, to be healthy.


I’m so glad that I could help you with the trepidations of going to Italy, or anywhere else in the world. There are so many places in this wide world. I’m not going to let fear of gluten stop me from visiting any of them!

Freckled Face Mama,

Thank you for your wonderful comment. And please tell your parents that I said “Ciao!”


Happy Birthday! And I am so happy for you. What a wonderful story. And I am so humbled and happy that I can help you at all.

Let Them (not) Eat Cake,

That was the most wonderful part. People understood. No one made disparaging remarks, or thought I was crazy, or accused me of having an eating disorder. It felt like home.


I would love to go to Melbourne. We can get Illy coffee here too, but it just doesn’t seem the same!


Eating your way around Italy sounds utterly dreamy. Do it. And tell us about it!


She was referring to an allergy to corn, sadly. And there is cornflour available here that is not contaminated with wheat!


Oh, I checked! Believe me. The air steward we had was so sympathetic, because one of his dearest friends has celiac. He brought me a couple of bags of peanuts. He offered cheese, but it was a flubby processed cheese, and I didn’t know about the ingredients. And no fruit. Sigh. Frankly, he gave us free cocktails! Fun, but I could only drink one on an empty stomach. The options on airplanes are woefully small.


Thanks for the wonderful insight into Italy. I’m afraid it’s probably hard to be a vegan anywhere, but I definitely wouldn’t want to try it in Italy!

Erin S,

Oh yes! Go!


Yes! When you find the right restaurant, you will be taken care of, entirely.


Isn’t it amazing? The difference is so astonishing. And there’s nothing like someone saying, “Oh, I can feed you safely,” to make us feel loved.


It’s true that those packaged foods are not something I would eat every day. But that’s true of most of the packaged foods in the US as well.

But when you are traveling, they are a godsend. At home, I can eat a handful of walnuts for a snack, or heat up some red quinoa and throw in some goat cheese. But when you are dining out in Assisi, it’s so damned pleasing to have a gluten-free baguette to gnaw on with your cheese. You know?

All things in moderation, I believe.

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Jen said...

Now I want to go to Italy even more and take my mom with me! To just enjoy the food without having to worry about her getting sick! I'll be looking forward to the new recipes you develop and the three copies of your book that are now on their way to me :) That's right, I needed one for myself and two for gifts!

At 9:26 PM, Blogger Meg said...

Ritrovo, chefshop and DeLaurenti all might be able to get hold of Giusto products for you, and they're all Seattle-based companies, so you'd have the added benefit of being able to walk in and make them feel guilty, er, I mean, let them put a face to a name. The people at chefshop are absurdly nice, and seem to enjoy getting their hands on difficult-to-find products. And I would think that both Metro Markets and PCC might be pretty responsive (and looking to get an edge on Whole Foods and their gluten-free sections). It's not as easy as it was for you in Italy (and I seem to remember the pharmacy food in Assisi more than 10 years ago largely consisted of baby zwieback crackers and lozenges, so they've come a long way, and the US could, too), but it's something, isn't it?

At 9:28 PM, Anonymous Alison said...

I have been hearing about the celiac testing for children in Italy for some time now, but have wondered "what is it really like for a celiac in the land of pasta?" Your account has made it so clear that we have some catching up to do here in the U.S. It also made me want to go back to Italy! Thank you for this.

At 10:58 PM, Blogger cyberprof said...

Shauna, I'm so teary eyed.

I'm Italian and Irish (not sure which gave me the celiac yet- maybe both!). We were planing a trip to Europe next year with our kids. I wanted to go to England or Ireland, thinking that I could explain in English about the no-gluten requirements. I don't speak Italian, though I've always wanted my relative to teach me, starting when I was 10 years old.

Anyway, after reading about your trip, I think we'll go to Italy, or maybe southern Switzerland. We are going to do a home-exchange, where we stay in each other's houses.

I can't imagine what it would be like to go into a restaurant and not worry about being sickened.

And for the flight, I'm going to bring Tasty Bite indian meals and lots of Lara bars. I never go anywhere now without the Lara bars. In fact, at my sister-in-law's wedding in August, I could eat nothing, so I whipped out the Lara bar. That's why I'm excited to go to your book opening on the 22nd- imagine! a gluten-free cocktail party that I didn't cook myself!


At 4:05 AM, Blogger Li & David said...

"Lo sono celiaco." Oh, if only it were that easy here! Thanks Shauna, for the beautiful stories. I'm looking forward to every word about Italy! ~Li

At 7:20 AM, Blogger Sheltie Girl said...

I'm delighted that you had such a wonderful time on your honeymoon.

Delta should be more organized about giving out specially ordered dinners. What if they had given your gluten free dinner (& not nut free) to the person who ordered a nut free meal...scary. The flight attendants should also have made an attempt to serve you some of the snack foods they carry on every flight (i.e. apples or even peanuts).

For your experimentation with corn flour try Authentic Foods. They sell a corn flour that is gluten free.

I'm glad you guys got back safely and I'm sorry you were so ill on your return.

Take Care,
Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Lyrically speaking said...

It would be nice to live in a gluten-free world and not be tempted to eat the wrong kind of food, I enjoyed reading this and all the pictures you shared with us.

At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading your blog is a pleasure, and I always look forward to a new entry that is so full of life and joy.

Anyhow, I was food-blog surfing and came across this recipe for Pão de Queijo which are supposed to be naturally gluten-free, and thought of you..

At 11:05 AM, Blogger s'kat said...

Wow, what a beautiful, amazing journey. When my husband and I went to Italy last year (a year already tomorow!), we also encountered a less than satisfactory journey back home.

The contrast- is unsettling. "Welcome to America!"

At 1:33 PM, Blogger jill said...

Thank you for your report on Italy. It is so encouraging because I've never been and want to go. Gluten free cones even! That's wonderful!

At 3:51 PM, Anonymous C said...

Thank you for this post. It really made me think, and it crystallized something that's been bothering me about the american attitude to food.
Loving food doesn't mean you have to eat everything. It's not about quantity, or even diversity. It's about enjoying what you can have and making the best of it. We Americans are so concerned with abundance that we feel threatened when someone has restrictions. It doesn't match up with what we think of as "normal".
Ah hell, I don't know how to say it, but the fact remains. If the Italians can be so comfortable with gluten-free food, there is absolutely no damn reason why America should be having such a problem.

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Luisa said...

I'm sorry, honey. I can't imagine - at all - that kind of frustration especially after such a wonderful trip. You're a strong woman. xo

At 5:33 PM, Anonymous marisa said...

As always, another fantastic post. I have never wanted to go to Italy...until now.

I have a smile on my face b/c Amazon says that my book will arrive tomorrow! Keeping my fingers crossed until it arrives! Such great writing! And such great food!

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Cate said...

No, it shouldn't be that hard, but I am so glad you had such a wonderful time there. My parents go to Italy a few times a year for business, and just came back 2 weeks ago from the last trip. Food and the treatment and celebration and passion for it is so different there. While there and out for dinner with the clients, the client went into the kitchen to talk to the chef and see which fish was freshest that night, and how it should best be prepared. And that's not unusual over there. Imagine doing that here!

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Sea said...

Hi Shauna,
This post really resonated for me. It reminded me of a trip to Europe with my now DH (we got engaged in front of the Trevi fountain)... and i guess reminded me of how much I would love to go back. At the time I didn't know much about gluten free travel- ironic, as I'd been gluten free for such a very long time, so i didn't eat all that well. It was much easier in Italy than in France, even so. But the food is amazing- we loved the little tapas in Venice- and, best of all, the espresso. Ah, italian espresso. *sigh* Thank you for sharing your trip with us all.

Hey- you're coming to San Francisco, yes? You should stop in Mountain View- there is a wonderful local bookshop that often has book authors come in and do readings. It's on Castro street, a great little international restaurant district. I'll check the name of the bookshop and post it for you- I think it might be a good fit. It's also down the street from my house, haha, so maybe I have a little teeny ulterior motive. ;)


PS airport food sucks. I've eaten more potato chips and soda at airports out of starvation than anywhere, anytime else. hiss. sorry about the letdown- I know that feeling well.

At 5:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting about eating GF in Italy. Now, I can't wait to study there this May. I'll be staying in Florence and then touring wineries, an olive oil press, a prosciutto producer, and a parmasean cheese producer. Plus, visiting farmer's markets and hearing lectures on sustainable ag. I'm excited. And have started to learn Italian in my free time. I have mastered the "Io sono celiaco. Che cosa posso mangiare?" and "senza glutine". I wonder if those GF products would be available for purchasing online? Maybe I'll befriend store owners over there and convince them to export them!

And airports are the worse for finding GF food. I bring my own food, but when I run out I become a fruitarian practically, bah!

And NYC is the best for GF dining in America. I thought living in the Twin Cities was great for that, but I must say that NYC has way more restaurants with GF menus/items. You should check out Risoterria while you are over there. They offer GF pizzas, risottas, and paninis. Plus they have GF breadsticks and GF beer (New Grist is my favorite). And the bakery BabycakesNYC is amazing! I had one of her GF carrot cupcakes with coconut frosting. Two of my non-celiac friends tried the stuff and loved it too!

And being a student and a nutrition student at that, I have stumbled onto some recent research of which I just wrote a paper on. Basically, there have been some studies done in vitro on human models and in vivo in rats where an enzyme derived from a certain bacteria has been ingested along with gluten and the bacterial enzyme renders the gluten proteins non-toxic to us genetically susceptible individuals with celiac. More studies of course have to be done and on humans before anything comes to the market. Yet, you wouldn't have to be afraid everytime you ate something a host gave you or at a restaurant even though your host assured you it was GF. I have had this happen to me on more than one occassion (soy sauce and other sauces are usually the culprits....people just aren't educated about it but i love them for trying). You would just take the enzyme with your meal (in pill form I would hope!) and any accidentally ingested gluten would not cause you harm. It would make a celiac's life a lot easier.

Anyways, this is already way too long! Sorry!


At 7:22 PM, Anonymous JenG said...

I just discovered your website. Per the advice of a physician, I put my daughter on a gluten-free, casein-free diet, 10 years ago. We never looked back!
She and I just sat here and cried reading about your trip to Italy - to be understood! To know that what you are eating is safe! What a joy that would be... we will be saving our pennies to go to Italy.

Thank you!

At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Kendra said...

Bravo Shauna! It shouldn't be this hard!
I've lived peanut, soy, and milk free for over 20 years, and more recently adopted a corn and gluten free lifestyle when I developed new food allergies.
Although products and options have greatly improved, we still have a long way to go.
This weekend I'm heading to a conference at a resort - I can't beleive the scrutiny and questions I have received from the food staff about my request for simple, unprocessed foods.
I dream of the day I don't have to struggle to eat healthy away from home.

At 7:18 PM, Blogger Brynn said...

This is vague, but hopeful:

An old friend used to work for a natural products marketing company (New Hope Communications). I learned, second hand, that she recetnly visited a trade show of her former employer in search of new opportunities in the natural products field. She interviewed with an Italian company looking to broaden their market for gluten-free products to the US. I don't know any more than that. Maybe there is hope that we'll all be able to enjoy the tastey treats you sampled on your honeymoon.

At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi--my 6 year old daughter has celiac and we spent 3 weeks in Italy this summer and we had the same wonderful experiences that you had. Risotto is her favorite meal now! And the selection at the farmacias was amazing--even the frozen section with ice cream, tortellini, etc. I also want to tell you about Salute pasta. It is made in Italy and tastes exactly the same as kind with flour. I live in London and can only find it at one grocery store chain, but seriously, it is amazing. My daughter much prefers it to Tinkyada. So--see if you can find Salute. I highly recommend it!! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay - first off I so wish I'd know you had a layover in Atlanta. We could have picked you up for a safe dinner downtown and gotten you back to the airport in plenty of time for your flight.

I've only been to Italy once, and I wasn't diagnosed with Celiac at the time so I ate whatever I wanted. I'm so glad to know I can easily go back and eat so very well!

My trip to London and Paris last May, proved to be a bit of an eye opening experience for me as well. Celiac was very well known in London but the food we had was uninspired, save the fabulous afternoon tea (meal) at The Dorchester Hotel. The gluten free tea sandwiches were to die for!

In Paris, I ate out each meal for 7 days without issue and found gluten free bread at a tiny health food store near the hotel. I supplemented my breakfast and lunch with gluten free crackers and pretzels but for dinner I ate like royalty. It was like being on a different planet - the kind where servers don't look at you like you're crazy every time you explain your dietary requirements. And you know what? Like you, I too will not rest until that changes in these United States of America! It's either changing, or I'll be retiring in Italy...

Can't wait for your book - out in two days right? It's the first step for the winds of change regarding gluten free living. You're exactly right - it should not be this hard.

At 3:36 AM, Blogger charlotte s said...

your blog is beautiful and full of enthusiasm! this post was a pleasure to read! I'm glad you had a magical time in italy :)

At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Beth said...

Enjoyed the Italy blog. Now I won't be so afraid to travel to
Europe, most especially Italy.

Arizona does happen to have a gourmet pizza restaurant, Picazzo's, that has a rather full gluten free menu. The staff do know what you are talking about and do prepare and cook the gluten free pizza in a separate contained area from the "regular" pizza.
It was heartwarming to eat there and know that they understood and were taking care of you. They also have gluten free beer. There are several locations in Arizona, wish they were nationwide!

At 3:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We feel your pain. My son was served french toast(not gluten free) on a 10 hr. flight to Tokyo on United. Good thing I packed snacks. Alex will be at your cooking class Nov 6 at PCC. Please help this 17 year old cook!

At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Natasha said...

I was captivated by your writing and couldn't stop reading ... I came upon it through a Celiac List group I belong to. Being a small entrepreneur whose grandmother's tea cakes were a hit at every family gathering, it was a true 'awakening' when my customers asked "do you have anything that is flourless or sugar free?" That was MY wake-up call/introduction to the Celiac/diabetic world. So you think it's a challenge to 'eat gluten fre...try eating gluten and sugar free'! It took me a year to comeup with a cookie that didn't taste like saw dust and was gluten and diabetic friendly! Anyway...I wanted to send you and Chef a wedding gift, but have no idea where you will be next! Natasha's Health Nut Cookies is where I can be reached! Can't wait to read your entire book...that is when I have my head out of the oven!

At 9:45 AM, Blogger the veggie paparazzo said...

You have inspired me to say 'yes' and go to Italy gluten-free (and casein-free, tomato-free, soy-free, etc.) when my husband goes for a work trip in April. How exciting! Thanks.

At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Amelia said...

Wow - I now have hope I can go to Italy again, and not be sick the entire time! I went before I 'listened' to my diagnosis, and was so sick in Florence I couldn't even get out of bed to see the Uffizi. Thanks for writing about it! (as I sit here getting sick from my latte becauase I forgot to harrass them about their syup/soymilk ingredients...)

At 2:15 AM, Blogger Jessika said...

Celiac disease is more common in Europe, perhaps this explains the sensitivity to accomodation?
Not all are of course, meaning restaurants etc., but it is evolving. I have a friend that is allergic to wheat and the grains that contain gluten (mind allergic not gluten intolerant) and this provides some trying moments over time. I'm allergic to other things and I have most often been offered food that is off the menu, though they cannot assure me that trace amounts of something won't be present. Fortunately I am not THAT allergic anymore. Restaurants and food stores in general should know though that word of mouth travel fast among those who need dietary considerations by necessity of life. Go there, by god don't go there!

(found my way here via wednesday chef)

At 2:19 AM, Blogger Jessika said...

And oh, forgot, here, Sweden, there's half of an smaller aisle for dry gluten free foods at the supermarket and a section of frozen breads in the frozen foods section. I never realised the assortment was so impoverished.

At 12:31 PM, Blogger Tatiana said...

Hi there,

I am not gluten sensitive, but love your blog for it's joie de vivre and great writing. I wanted to suggest though that if you can't find the Italian brand distributor in the US - do it yourself. See if you can get a distributorship agreement for your regional area, dedicate an area of your site to shopping for this brand and see what happens. You can then offer the products to your local stores and even approach big chains like Whole Foods. That will ensure the supply of great products in your area and may grow into a great business that you may or may not manage yourself. Just a thought.

At 2:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just returned from a trip to Rome and I flew on British Airways and I have to say the GF meals and snacks were the best I have had outside of my own home. The only downfall is that BA only provides these meals on the long-haul flights. My friend is deathly allergic to tomatoes and flew on Delta and could not eat a single meal on her way home.

At 2:46 AM, Anonymous Brian said...

The italian attitude is wonderful. I traveled there shortly eaafter going gluten free and was released from my fear of traveling.

Illy isn't the only way to get good coffee in Seattle. You can roast your own (as I do) or get it from the Vivace window on Broadway. Best Joe in town, by far. Really really really far.

At 1:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sitting here reading this and tears are streaming down my face.

Will be travelling to Italy in 2 weeks, can hardly wait. Thank you for your great blog.

At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Jessica Pietrosanti said...

Thank you so much for this post! I am an American currently living in Poland, and it has been a challenging few months living here without being able to speak very much Polish. I have found a number of great treats by companies like Glutenex, Besgluten, and Schar.

My husband and I will be traveling to Rome for Christmas this year and I was wondering if you could possibly send me the names of a few restaurants you would recommend in Rome.

I have enjoyed reading your blog! Thank you!

At 1:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can not thank you enough for this blog. We're planning a trip to Italy and my son can't do gluten. I thought we were doomed until now.

Thanks again for taking the time to write this.

At 11:40 AM, OpenID nearlythebionicwoman said...

Wow! First of all, I can't' believe how far down I had to scroll just to leave a comment! You are an inspiration that I only hope to be.

I never did find out the answer if I am truely intolerant to Gluten however I have SLE w/kidney failure and Fibromyalgia so I do know that I hurt a lot less when I do eat GF.

I am going to Italy next month and thought that I would just have to deal with the pain so that I could enjoy the food. Thank you so much for posting this amazing article so that I see it can be done.

Would you mind if I refer to your blog and this post when I am ready to post on mine about my own adventures??

Thanks so much,
Christina~nearly the bionic woman

At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Christina Baita said...

Me again. I was finally able to read the whole post and see that your meal on the plane was given away! I fly for Comair (part of Delta). One reason I love flying for the "commuter" as I HATE hearing, I feel like the passengers are my guests and not just another number. Either way, I appologize.

I so look forward to visiting Italy with new eyes. One's that do not need gluten to eat in such a beautiful country.

At 11:58 AM, OpenID nearlythebionicwoman said...

I went in to a grocery today and cannot find the pasta that you speak of. I was so impressed by the amount of GF foods that were available there. So exciting! They even had desserts in the pastry section that were not unreasonable priced. I will post some pictures soon.

At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your blog on Italy. I'm a celiac who has always wanted to go to Italy. The thought of never being able to go because of food issues, literally, made me cry. My husband wants to go in September..and now I know I can...THANK YOU AGAIN!

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Germaine Family said...

Wow! I've always wanted to go to Italy but was so afraid (being a country known for pasta) I would starve. This lifts my spirits immensely.
Thank You.

At 6:08 AM, Blogger ~M said...

Hi Shauna!

My husband and I also have plans to honeymoon in Italy in a few weeks. Do you have any suggestions for guidebooks, accommodations, attractions, etc.

At 6:58 AM, Blogger joel bramble said...

Thanks so much for this, as I will be stopping at a few places in Italy on a cruise in a couple of weeks and was a bit concerned about what gluten-free (and dairy and soy-free) options I might find there.

At 10:26 PM, Anonymous Charlotte said...

We LOVE Italy! The small towns are the best. It's hard to find bad food except in the tourist areas and the obvious ones like ristorante Cinese etc.

I understand how you feel when you came back to the US. On the way home we spent the night in Philadelphia and the breakfast was full of packaged food with lots of chemicals :-(

At 5:08 AM, Blogger Brittlynnr said...

Hi! I'm an American living in Italy. Actually, I got my blood taken for an allergy test two days before I left and was sent my results after I arrived in Milano: turns out I not only have a gluten allergy, but also dairy and eggs, and a myriad of other wonderful things.

I am Ms. Cornetto-e-Cappuccino any-time-of-day, and I was so happy to be moving to the land of this was really bad news for me. But as your blog said, and as i discovered only minutes ago, there ARE options here! Thanks to you, I look forward to a smoother transition than i could have achieved on my own (or, apparently, in America!)

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Jess said...

Oh, how happy I am now! My friend and I are planning a trip to Rome for this summer, and I have been terrified to look at the gluten-free situation over there for weeks. I finally googled "eating gluten-free in italy" and guess whose blog popped up! I was worried that I'd have to order a cup of sauce and a straw while my friend enjoyed plates piled high with pasta, bread, pizza, and lord knows what other delicious items that I would be forbidden from having. Oh, and neither of us drink coffee, tea, wine, or any other alcohol, so I was quite afraid of what brand of freak I was going to be labeled as after arriving in the place I've wanted to go MY WHOLE LIFE!!!

I recently went to Las Vegas for a weekend trip, and I didn't even try to explain to the servers there what I needed or why. Even though I was super careful, I was sick for 4 days, and the rash all over my legs is just barely starting to heal.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you! Not looking forward to coming back, but I'm so looking forward to going now!

At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post, we (myself, my celiac husband and our possibly celiac baby) are off to Italy next month and this made the whole eating thing alot easier to handle. especially after our trip 3 years ago not knowing he suffered from celiac but sick and falling asleep at the dinner table each night.
thank you!

At 1:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey great blog. We, as a family of 4, are about to embark on a 5 week tour of Italy and France. Your blog has been very informative and I thank you so much for sharing. I think France will be a little more difficult ....GF Boy, Australia

At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Amy Stolzenbach said...

Thank you so much for writing about your experiences. I found your blog when I typed "gluten-free, florence". I've been gluten-free for two weeks and I have an upcoming trip to Italy. My visions of pizza and pasta from our last trip were swirling down the drain. I'm so relieved to find out that the farmacias carry gluten-free products!!! Needless to say, it's been a long road for me, but at least now I don't have to stress so much about our trip. BTW - I live in Seattle too and the best Italian-authentic coffee is at Herkimer Coffee on Phinney Ridge. While I agree that Illy coffee is good, it's many weeks old by the time it reaches you here in the states. I'm a little biased about Herkimer since my husband roasts coffee there, but I have first-hand knowledge that he created his espresso blend after our last trip to Italy when we fell in love with their coffee. Give it a try!

At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Stargazer Lily said...

Thank you so much for posting your story! I am crying for joy as I write this. I did not believe I would ever be able to fulfill my dreams of traveling in Europe, due to my gluten and dairy issues, but you have given me hope. I am planning my first trip to Italy in the Spring!

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Julia said...

This might sound silly at first, and maybe it's just that this is becoming a common thing, but I think that we are soul mates or something because I am also gluten free and marrying (in October 2011!) a chef! And!!! We also live in the Northwest! We are planning our trip to Italy and the other night I almost started crying at our table when I expressed how scared I am that I'm going to spend our entire trip there feeling sick and wanting to die! Thank you so much for this blog, as hilarious as it is (that anyone ever wouldn't look forward to a trip to Italy!), I think that I can now actually look forward to our trip to Italy!

At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this article!!! Im a college student in the Northeast and am looking to study abroad in Italy next year and was worried I wouldn't be able to due to my celiac's but after searching I am so relieved!!!

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you liked Italy, but it cracks me up how people go to the old world for a week, fall in love with it, then think it's all roses for everyone who lives there. The grass is always greener, I guess.

Maybe in the much wealthier northern region of Italy there is more education about celiac disease, but I lived in Sicily for 3 years and can say that eating was not such a simple matter for me.

The social aspect of food is so strong there. Maybe in a fancy restaurant a chef will make you whatever you want, but most Sicilians very rarely eat out. If they do, it's pizza, and I have yet to see a gluten-free pizza in Sicily.

If you live in Sicily, you eat every meal with your friends, family or co-workers, in someone's home. If you refuse to eat food that everyone else is eating you risk alienating yourself.

None of my roommates could ever comprehend my refusal to eat pasta, bread and meat (i'm a pescatarian. "come on, just a little bit" they'd say). I should have just told people I was celiac rather than gluten intolerant because to this day even my husband (also Sicilian) still believes that I am "exaggerating" and that I should eat a plate of pasta with him every now and then. Nevermind the headaches, bloating, constipation and skin eruptions that follow.

Then there's my mother-in-law, who continues to try and force feed me pasta and pastries, thinking that I won't eat them because I think I'll gain weight.

In my experience Americans are much more accepting of those with dietary restrictions and dietary preferences. I can't tell you how many times my husband has ordered vegetarian pizzas and panini that came with "just a little bit" of prosciutto in them...That has never happened here.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Aubriele Rowe said...

i loved your blog, the difference is so amazing. I'm thinking of moving to Italy, its easier for us there. :)

At 7:12 AM, Blogger Fae said...

I, too, after reading your blog on gf in Italy, am ready to move there! How absolutely amazing and wonderful of you to document your journey and so candidly.

I love that the slate came from the roof and that your honey was so compassionate for you when you couldn't eat for 11 hours. Oh, what we go through.

So wonderful that you have the support you do. And now we have a country too.



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