We have been contacted several times by people who really wish to come to Italy on holiday but have decided not to for their concerns about not being able to eat gluten free food in the land of pizza, pane and pasta.
According to the Associazione Italiana Celiachia, an estimated 600.000 Italians are affected by celiac disease with only 135.000 having been diagnosed with it.
There are over 1200 restaurants, gelaterie and pizzerie serving gluten free dishes around the country and it is quite common to find specialised shops selling gluten free food even in small towns.
If you do not find a specific shop, big supermarkets often have a dedicated section and, usually, most pharmacies sell a varied range of gluten free products like corn or rice flour pasta and bread.
If you do not want to run any risk, choose big cities as your holiday destination or try to find out about what's available in the area you want to visit beforehand. You can check this dedicated website, Guida Rapida per Celiaci.
Because food in Italy plays such a central role, the food sector continues to develop gluten free alternatives so that people who require a gluten free diet can still enjoy the pleasure of pasta, pizza or pane. For example, some pizzerie are now using hemp flour to make pizza obtaining great results. Do not forget to ask also for gluten free ice-cream and cured meat, which can contain gluten too.
To ask for food with no gluten in Italian you ask for 'cibo senza glutine' and to explain you are affected by celiac disease you can say 'sono intollerante al glutine' or simply say 'sono celiaco' (m) or 'sono celiaca' (f).