Vegetarian or Vegan, Gluten or Dairy or Nut Free eating in Italy
A food intolerance or food allergy or even a vegetarian diet can make translating the holiday restaurant menu, if there is one, a minefield! Reading food labels in the supermercato becomes a challenging but important holiday activity.
Gluten free. Milk free. Wheat free. Nut free. Soya free. Egg free. Fun free? Doesn’t have to be.
An Italian holiday is a feast for all the senses but for many the glorious food is a huge attraction. Colourful markets and delis have inspiring local ingredients for foodies and keen cooks. Osterias, trattorias and restaurants offer scrumptious regional dishes and of course there’s gelato.
Food, Nutrition and Health Matters to the Italians
Italy is a country in love with its food and wants every visitor to share this passion. The Italians are often deep in conversation about the best way to cook a dish, when it should be eaten and with what. They also connect food with health and recognise the need to adapt dishes and ingredients. Those with a food intolerance or allergy or other dietary requirement will find plenty to satiate their appetites.
How can you relax in the pizza and pasta world that is Italy?
An increasing number of holiday guests want gluten free foods, have a lactose intolerance, are vegetarian or vegan or maybe coeliac.
The traditional Mediterranean diet that Italians have enjoyed for years can cater for all. Gluten free grains such as rice, corn and millet and healthy pulses and beans like lentils and chickpeas are abundant. Olive oil is the default fat. And of course, ‘funny looking’ fruit and vegetables are devoured by the bag full.
Food provenance is important to Italians and the local butchers will know where the meat comes from and offer you fresh herbs just in case you have none. Similarly, the fish is sold fresh together with the recommended serving suggestion.
Shopping for free from groceries in Italy
Self-catering is a safer option but can still be daunting away from home. It is easier than you think to shop in Italy and the Le Marche region is no different. Even here in ‘medieval’ Sarnano there is an array of local shops and a weekly market teaming with seasonal vegetables and fruit. Fish brought from the coast is on sale in the piazza twice a week. The pescheria displays its tantalising selection of seafood two mornings a week.
Still can’t resist the starchy carbs? Locally, you can find fresh bread that is egg free and milk free and is labelled as such. Those with a gluten intolerance will find selections of gluten free flour, pasta, bread, biscuits and cakes – essentials through to delicious treats, in all the local supermarkets.
What about eating out in Italy with a food intolerance?
Not everyone wants to cook on holiday. Displaying allergens on menus is a Europe wide obligation which helps. In the last couple of years restaurants in Sarnano have made it easier to enjoy the Italian food that we all love.
Gluten free pasta and pizza is available, there are always fantastic vegetarian dishes. Moreover, most restaurants will happily ensure that vegan options are available too. Also, for those with a sweet tooth creamy soya ice cream is sold in the gelateria.
Italians are extremely serious about food and its effect on their health. It is fundamental to their culture. Consequently, more and more restaurants, bars, hotels and BnBs are ensuring that no one misses out on the feast . Thankfully all guests to our villa and Sarnano, with or without a food intolerance, can indulge and feast on their holiday.
Loved this article – interesting and informative. Italian food in all its diversity is truly wonderful!
Thank you for the feedback. Glad you enjoyed the article.