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A Gluten Free Italian holiday

August 7, 2012

We spent a glorious 3 weeks in Italy this summer. We began our holiday in Rome. Then moved on to Tuscany where we stayed in our favourite village, Regello. From there we were able to visit all the famous Tuscan cities: Florence, Pisa and Sienna. After Tuscany we went up north to Termeno in Trentino alto Adige ( which is actually more German than Italian) and finally ended with one night in Venice before flying back to Dubai.

Italy always has this strange effect on me. It steals my heart every time. Each time I have the hardest time returning home after an Italian Holiday. Standing in an Italian supermarket or market place makes my heart sing. Surrounded by the beauty of natural food just makes me happy.  Fresh and bright and inviting. I always dread my first day back in one of our local supermarkets with its limp and over priced produce.

We thought it was time to show the boys some of Italy’s rich history. We did all the touristy things. We also ate, visited old friends and relaxed under the canopies of beautiful old trees. Ice cream was a must every single day. Sorbet for me and the other  food intolerant son. It was a daily ritual we looked forward to each day. We even rated the best gelato or sorbetto each day. Grom won each time.

One would think that Italy with all its pizza and pasta would be difficult for those of us with food intolerance. Not so. Although I must say it all did get a little better once I was over my initial tearful frustration of not being able to just grab a slice of pizza or savour a delicate  pastry with my coffee. Many eateries offer gluten free pizza and  pasta options. Although if you are also intolerant to maize it is more of a problem since a lot of gluten free pasta is made from corn. We also ate what must be the best gluten free pizza of all time. I even washed mine down with a gluten free beer!  I opted for the porcini mushroom and truffle pizza. I am beginning to salivate at the thought of it. It was magnificent! Of course there is never a shortage of meat, fish and vegetables dishes to choose from. All simply prepared retaining as much of their natural state as possible. This is not a place where food is tampered and interfered with. Eating simple natural food, you need not concern yourself with hidden ingredients and fillers that are so commonplace in the food elsewhere. When you eat spinach in Italy you only get lightly sautéed spinach with a drizzle of olive oil and perhaps some garlic slivers. That’s it. Beautiful.

Italy does not appear ignorant of gluten or any food related allergies for that matter. You do not get that deer-in-the-headlights-look when you ask for gluten free options.  The minute you enquire about anything being sensa glutine ( without glutine) they ask if you are  Celiaca/o (a coeliac/celiac. Sometimes it was just easier to reply “Si”. Things got a little trickier when we had to enquire whether in addition to items being sensa glutine, they were also sensa mais, latte e anche uove (without maise, milk and eggs). There is a great  gluten free product in Italy called Schar. They also have a website full of information as to where you can find gluten free eateries all over Italy.

Apart from the food, I have to say my other great moment was visiting St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome early one  Sunday morning. We even participated in a mass at one of  many alters in the cathedral. St. Peter’s (like all Italian churches) is filled with the most beautiful art, sculpture and mosaics I have ever seen. St. Peter’s will always have a very special place in my heart.

We have visited Tuscany a few times before, but this was my first time in Venice. We all loved it! Venice is amazing. Expensive, but amazing. They even have a Grom branch! All the usual things you’ve seen in pictures are even more beautiful in reality. The gondolas, St. Marc’s Cathedral, the narrow streets, the shopping, the food, the mask shops, the food (oh I mentioned that already!) and the canals. We stayed in a fantastic B&B right on a canal. We had a fantastic view of all the tourists in the gondolas with Italian tenors singing their hearts out to the delight of the tourists. I will also always remember that it was in Venice that we enjoyed the best seafood risotto ever! Unbelievably delicious. Loose and perfectly al dente with just a hint of creaminess that comes from cooking the rice perfectly.

As always I was sad to leave. This visit confirmed the richness that Italy has to offer. Not only the fantastic food culture, but also the art, sculpture, architecture, design, opera, fashion and a colourful and vibrant history. This visit only made us want to return and explore even more of what this country has to offer.

I took far too many pictures, so these are just a small taste of our experience. Hope you enjoyed them:)

10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2012 12:42 PM

    love your photos .. reminds me of our vacation in Italy couple of years back. I so want to go again!!

  2. August 7, 2012 1:19 PM

    Your pictures are heart-stoppingly beautiful.

  3. August 8, 2012 10:57 AM

    The picture inside the Vatican with the sunrays pouring in is so surreal… and the picture with the pillars – beautiful. It must have been an amazing experience to attend a Sunday mass in the Vatican!

    • August 9, 2012 12:02 PM

      Yes, Sunday Mass was very special. The pic inside the Pantheon was a quick snap, since I was asked by one of the guards to move on…I was blocking the entrance squatting down as delicately as possible to get the shaft of light.

      • August 9, 2012 1:20 PM

        Yeah itr was Pantheon… After reading Angels and Demons I was so scared to go inside the Pantheon. I tried leaving another comment but my internet connection was creating a problem. It’s a beautiful shot – almost copybook shot!

  4. August 8, 2012 11:07 AM

    Oh Sorry that was inside the Pantheon. Just before we had visited Rome I had read the Angels and Demons and I was petrified that someone would come in through that hole in the ceiling!!!

  5. Brenda Kassir permalink
    August 8, 2012 12:42 PM

    ❤ ❤ <3. Thanks for sharing. You have captured the essence of the image of Italy I have in my, having never been, but one day hopefully…

    • August 9, 2012 11:59 AM

      Oh you must go sometime. It certainly is one of my favourite places. Thanks for visiting.

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