This winter we ventured outside of the US on a trip to Italy. Our first international trip since our daughter Sarah, was diagnosed with multiple food allergies. Italy was our first choice when making the decision as of where to go. It was on our bucket list, and all the amazing reviews about how easy it has been for many with food allergies to navigate. So, we prepared as best as we could before-hand.
A few weeks before our trip, we contacted the hotels and told them about our daughter’s allergies and asked if they could provide recommendations for allergy friendly restaurants. All of them were kind enough to provide recommendations, which we compiled together with the list of recommendations found in allergy travel groups.
Our allergist gave us a travel note describing our daughter’s allergies (Gluten, soy and tree nuts), the need for the EpiPen and why we needed to bring food on the airplane. For the airplane ride, we prepared plenty of meals, since we did not want to take the risk with airline food. At the airport we told agents about the EpiPens (4 sets, just to be safe) and they had no questions, nor they asked for doctor's note. By the way, we traveled Lufthansa, and while they could have made her something at no extra charge, they do recommend you bring your own food when dealing with multiple food allergies.
Based on online reviews we purchased the Seat Sitter cover for the airplane and train rides. It worked as expected, it fit well and made settling on the plane easier, just had to wipe the arm rest, tray, belt and window. Chef cards in Italian were a must. Those made it easier when inquiring at restaurants.
We stayed at The Domus Spagna Condotti Imperial Suite, breakfast included. Since we had emailed them about her allergies, their Gracious hostess Donatella asked about what type of breakfast we would like (sweet or savory); and took a list of the things our daughter liked. She told us they had a store like our “Whole Foods”. We were amazed at the amount of breads and cakes they got for her. We double check the labels, and everything was as promised. To translate labels and menus we used the app Triplingo. Our server Victor, a genuinely kind soul, knew to keep all the safe food separate.
Café Romano – While overpriced, everything was perfect. We were thankful to have found this place, after traveling for so many hours. Among their options are gluten free pasta, bread and risotto. They gladly made her pasta with shrimp, they even had gluten free bread for the table.
Il Buco – This place was a hidden gem around the Colosseum. All meals are simply made with fresh ingredients from their own farm, including their wine. They gladly made a simple steak with vegetables and potatoes.
Voglia di Pizza – We loved our meal at this a dedicated gluten free restaurant. They assured us that they could make sure there was no cross contamination with tree nuts or soy, and they delivered. Sarah had pizza, bruschetta and fries.
Donatella (from Domus Spagna in Rome) gave us a list of Restaurants that are supposed to be allergy friendly around the Spanish Steps. We didn’t get to visit those but worth to keep them on your list if you’re traveling to Rome.
La Rampa at Piazza Mignanelli
Sofia – Via di Capo le Case
Nino Via Borgognona
Nabucco Firenze - We had breakfast everyday at this cozy place since it was near our hotel. Our daughter was able to have eggs and fruit. We avoided the gluten free bread because it contained nuts.
One of the best experiences we had in Florence was at Ciro & Sons. They had a completely dedicated gluten free kitchen. Very knowledgeable about food allergies. Most of the items on their menu are also nut free, soy free and dairy free. Their allergy friendly pizza mix is for sale at their front desk. We brought some home with us.
Trattoria Antellesi – So grateful to have found this place. After forgetting that Italians take their “siesta” and businesses close after lunch time. It was 3pm and most places were closed or couldn’t accommodate her allergies. Finally, we encountered this small, but lovely place. The owner offered to make her something. He was kind enough to bring ingredients from his kitchen to double check with me. He made a delicious steak and gluten free pasta with fresh tomato sauce. She was very happy with her meal, as were the rest of us.
Walkabout Florence – This was a tour of Tuscany. Part of the tour was a lunch at an organic farm. They were happy to accommodate her allergies. They had rice, gluten free pasta and gluten free crackers. We did avoid the dessert because it contained nuts.
The lovely owner of the B&B we stayed in gather a list of restaurants from a friend of hers that lives in Florence and has multiple food allergies. Unfortunately we were already heading to Venice by the time we got the list. These are the restaurants:
Perche No (gelato)
La Coccette (GF burgers)
Lorenzo De’ Medici (We stopped by this restaurant and while they have gluten free options, soybean oil is used in their kitchen)
La Terraza: This place understood food allergies and went out of their way to accommodate us. We had a great lunch here, and came back for breakfast. Jessica, the manager was amazing, showing us what was safe around the buffet, but untimely had the chef make a separate breakfast to ensure a safe meal.
Hostaria Galileo: Another great find in Venice. Many gluten free options. They were very accommodating about her soy and nut allergy.
We made so many wonderful memories. Traveling with food allergies can be done. It does require some planning and preparation. Be vigilant, ask a lot of questions, follow your instinct and when in doubt go without.