Food allergies in Florence: Never fear!


Restaurant in Florence
Many restaurants can make a gluten-free meal for you. Photo: CreativePrincess

Pizza and pasta may be cornerstones of the Italian diet, but there are plenty of alternatives should these co-stars of the Italian kitchen be wrong for your body. Read on to find out how to negotiate Florence minus the usual suspects of dairy and wheat.

Gluten-Free Restaurants

Pizza and pasta are made with wheat. And wheat is made of gluten. So an allergy to gluten means no pizza, no pasta–right? Wrong! Italy is at the forefront of gluten allergy awareness and there are plenty of gluten-free restaurants you can choose from.

My two favorites are Il Vegetariano (Via delle Ruote 30r, Tel: 055 475 030) and La Racolta (Via Giacomo Leopardi, 2, Tel: 055 247 9068) who happen to also be vegetarian, vegan and simply vantastic.

Honorable mention also goes out to African Sky (Via Ghibellina, 3-red, Tel: 055 247 7416), a more recent discovery.

You can also just pop into any restaurant in Florence and ask for a gluten-free alternative. In most cases, the cook will whip something up for you if a gluten-free menu isn’t available. If you’re not so much the spontaneous type, you can also call in advance to alert the kitchen of your special requests. The gluten-free diet is very well known in Italy so restaurants are used to dealing with these types of requests.

Gluten-Free, On the Go

If you’re between A and B or have a kitchen at your disposal, you can pick-up gluten-free goods in most pharmacies and supermarkets–which tend to also be cheaper.

Coop and Esselunga, big grocery stores with multiple locations in the city, have sections dedicated to gluten-free pasta, bread, cookies, etc. They also have bread and desert mixes if you’re the do-it-yourself type.

Rice and Soy Milk

Most grocery stores carry rice milk, soy milk and all types of cheese. But for the apex in dairy substitute selection and any other dietary constraint, I strongly recommend the NaturaSi health food chain. With four locations in Florence, they are the city’s biggest (European standards being applied here) health food store, carry several varieties of non-allergenic dairy products as well as every other organic item under our wholesome sun. However, as in every health food store, their prices tend to be a bit on the spicy side, but I have seen far worse.

And finally, when all else fails, there is always our dear polenta. But that will be for another post…

About the author

Marc Justin Cinanni

About the author: Marc Justin Cinanni has recently begun experimenting with polenta without much success. You can follow him on Twitter here:

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