Sooo Italy is officially down as one of my favourite places IN THE WORLD. What an amazing 10-day babymoon that my partner, Joe, and I just had!
Since coming back to the UK from Australia (the plan is still to go back out there!), we’ve really wanted to take advantage of having Europe on our doorstep again… and what better excuse to go away than our last holiday as a team of two?!
We chose Italy because I have ALWAYS wanted to go and it’s been at the top of my Europe travel bucket list FOREVER. Plus, it’s super romantic and I’m obsessed with Italian food.
Food fear or food freedom?
We were warned by many that we’d probably struggle to find food that would fit in with my Hashimoto’s-friendly, AIP-ish diet (I don’t eat gluten, dairy, eggs, corn or soy and avoid a few other foods/ingredients) BUT I of course only took this as a challenge! Thanks to some wonderful recommendations from dear friends, plenty of Googling, and a splash of luck, we managed to eat in line with my dietary requirements while also indulging in local delicacies, pizza, AND gelato every day!
As I mentioned in my Bali diary blog post, I always screenshot the relevant international Coeliac restaurant card to show to the wait staff (for when I can’t see allergens listed on menus) and I also keep a list of translations for key words like “soy” and “milk”. Depending on what type of food I’m after, we either Google options in advance and keep a list of ideas OR just rock up and ask the right questions. For example, I try to go to places that specialise in GF food when I’m looking for pizza but if I’m after a grilled fish dish, then I know I can usually just check what oil the meal is cooked in (and make sure it’s not something like butter… which you’re pretty safe with in Italy as EVERYTHING is drenched in olive oil – yum!).
Our trip took us from Rome to Florence then the Tuscan countryside (we hired a car here to tinker around the cute local villages!), Cinque Terre (for some seaside time!) and finally, Venice. I loved being able to skip all the tourist queues for the Colosseum and Vatican in Rome thanks to my mahoosive bump! Cinque Terre had beautiful buildings and sunsets. However, our favourites were definitely Tuscany (rolling hills, vineyards and beautiful historical towns) and Venice (SO romantic!).
I was definitely glad to have our Air BnB in the Tuscan countryside half-way through the trip because the city trips were very tiring (lots of walking and too many people) to do while pregnant. Although Joe was an absolute superstar and looked after me amazingly… I felt like a bit of a princess, actually! Haha.
You CAN do Italy gluten-free!
One more thing before I share some recommendations for you… many of the supermarkets had “free-from” sections which was really helpful and honestly, “senza glutine” (gluten-free) is EVERYWHERE. I also packed a suitcase with paleo bars, buckwheat pasta (although you could buy this there!), tinned fish and other bits… many of which I didn’t end up needing! Despite being the gluten capital of the world, Italy is definitely catching on to accommodating GF travellers… so I hope this gives you some confidence about travelling there yourself :). It’s so worth it!
We did all the touristy things here (Vatican, Colosseum, Trevis Fountain, etc.) and were absolutely amazed by the architecture and art. The Colosseum tour (which we bought from inside the building rather than from the pushy salesmen outside… and it was cheaper there!) was well worth it… I loved learning about the history of the gladiators.
- La Soffita Renovatio – Had a lovely gluten-free anchovy pizza here (just asked for no cheese as they only had lactose-free rather than vegan cheese).
- Buddy – Lots of vegan options and SMOOTHIES to help wash down all the stodge!
- Voglia Di Pizza – The website and even their logo references gluten-free pizzas! Winning.
- We also got VG GF gelato in Rome but I can’t remember where it was from… good to know it exists though (and in many places!).
Here we mostly pottered about looking at the Duomo (cathedral) and other bits. Quieter than Rome and just as pretty.
- Mister Pizza – Guys, we went here THREE TIMES in 10 days. It was that epic. We got gluten-free, dairy-free pizza with mushrooms, coconut-based vegan cheese, artichokes, and black olives… SO DELICIOUS AND SO DOUGHY.
- Fatamorgana Gelato – Natural, local ingredient-based gelato with plenty of VG GF options.
- Shake Cafe – Lots of healthy foods here! We had green smoothie bowls and chai lattes with almond milk.
Here we mainly ate at little local places that we came across (so, unfortunately, they don’t all have websites – but that adds to the charm!) and they were all amazingly accommodating about my dietary requirements. We stayed in a gorgeous Air BnB up in the hills of the Chianti region and spent most of the time touring around bendy, hilly and slightly scary roads in our hire car, stopping off at villages (Greve, Radda, Panzano, etc.) and the nearby Siena and Sam Gimignano… all well worth a visit.
- Trattoria Da Pordo – We had steak, veggies cooked in olive oil, chips and some gluten-free pasta with tomato sauce and mushrooms. The staff were so friendly.
- No link for this but we went to a gorgeous farmer’s market in the little village of Panzano. Well worth doing if you have an Air BnB with a kitchen! The produce was so fresh and cheap. Definitely visit the villages in the Chianti region – sooo picturesque!
- We also visited lots of vineyards and although I couldn’t guzzle back the wine, it was still a really lovely experience. I would recommend Fattoria De Bagnolo in the Chianti region… the owner, Marco, gave us a really personal tour and we stayed chatting for ages chatting and eating chocolate/GF bread (so long that we dropped the hire car off almost 2 hours late!).
These 5 little villages are so gorgeous! We only made it to 4 of them (missing out the one in the middle!) but loved how they each had their own different character. Would highly recommend watching the sunset in Manarola… it lights up the buildings with a warm and beautiful glow! We had an Air BnB with a kitchen, so we bought fresh fish and pasta, and cooked for ourselves in the evenings.
- Gelateria Sorbetteria 5 Terre (Manarola) – THE WHOLE PLACE IS GLUTEN-FREE, YOU GUYS… as in, you can’t even bring gluten into the building (they had a sign to say it!). We had VG crepes made with almond milk and gelato here… sooo good.
- Ristorante Al Carugio (Monterosso) – This place was full of Italians… always a good sign! We shared fresh, local white fish and anchovies… just the fish fix we needed after being inland for a while!
We didn’t have long in Venice but still soaked it up as much as possible. The atmosphere, beautiful buildings, and winding river made the place feel so romantic. However, it was CRAZY busy and this was late October, so I dread to think about mid-summer! It felt great to finish off our trip in such an iconic place.
- A La Vecia Cavana – This was hands down one of my FAVOURITE meals. We don’t often eat at “fancy” restaurants and the service was AMAZING. The atmosphere and decor felt so old-school Italian. The waiter tailored dishes from the menu for us. I had a GF DF scampi and mushroom tagliatelle and Joe had spider crab tagliatelle (both local delicacies). IT WAS TO DIE FOR. They also brought me GF bread and a GF biscuit for dessert (with the packet, so I could read the ingredients). So perfect.
- SuSo Gelato – The best gelato of the trip!! Definitely try the VG GF dark chocolate and some sort of raspberry ripple type flavour… I could have gone back for seconds. So rich and creamy.
- Ristorante Al Giardinetto – This place is so cute! It has a garden which is nestled under vines which had turned all golden and autumnal… Picture perfect. We shared mussels (well-cooked, of course) then both had cuttlefish ink GF DF pasta (another local dish). I wanted the meal to NEVER end.
Sooo, that is a very summarised (but also very lengthy!) roundup of our foodie trip! It was honestly one of the best holidays of my life and well worth investing in before our family becomes 3. We had such a good balance of adventure, exploring, touristy sight-seeing, chilling out and EATING (although probably mostly eating…).
I hope my tips are helpful for you. I really want to demonstrate that it is VERY possible to travel, relax and experience freedom while living with an autoimmune condition or dietary requirements. My Hashimoto’s has changed my life, yes, but I’ve adapted and learned so much that I’m a better person because of it. I wish the same for you too, warriors.
Love, Sarah xox
P.S. If you are looking for support with healing your Hashimoto’s (and getting your lifeforce energy back!), please reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on IG @mojohealthspace. I’m happy to answer questions and help you out. I coach women, just like you, on a 1:1 basis to help them feel vibrant + thriving again… it’s more than possible, sista. I’m living proof :).