We spent two weeks in Italy and I took lots of notes about our trip and all the places we ate and stayed. The good news is that I’ve got loads of information on gluten-free eating in Italy! The bad news is that I’ve got loads of information on gluten-free eating in Italy! I’ve got this huge pile of backlogged entries to do so I’m going to power through them. Here goes:
The first place we stayed in Italy was Venice. I loved Venice! Our hotel there was the Hotel L’Alboro. It is a three star hotel, which in Europe means that it’s nice, clean, and has some amenities, but isn’t going to be plush or have amazing service or anything. We thought that the L’Alboro was a little run down but clean. Our room was small by American standards. The bed was how we found almost all the beds in Italy: hard with foam pillows.
The staff at L’Alboro is very nice and when they found that I was gluten-free, they got me three (three!) bags of gluten-free biscotti and also told me what I could and couldn’t eat in their breakfast area. This was a huge source of relief to me because I was worried about breakfasts there. It was also very kind of them and made me feel special in a good way instead of the usual “high-maintenance” way. There was some kind of altercation over the coffee that had to do with gluten, and I never found out what the deal was, but some Google searches are making me think I had caffè d’orzo, which is a kind of substitute coffee made with roasted barley. So make sure the serving people know that you’re gluten-free.
The location is awesome! The L’Alboro is in a kind of quiet out-of-the-way spot very near St. Mark’s Square. It is also a just walk to the Rialto Bridge (where all the night-life seems to be) and The Academy and Peggy Guggenheim Museums. There is a vaporetto (water bus) stop about 50 feet away.
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Some other notes: Almost all the staff speaks English. Franco and his wife were very kind and Franco showed us photos of his dog and his house. Sienna was having trouble figuring out whether or not to buy a pair of boots. She asked one of the staff and he reported back what his wife thought the next day. The locks at Hotel L’Alboro are the old fashioned kind that use what look like skeleton keys. Very cool!
We had a little trouble getting good food in Venice. I think that tourism is to blame more than anything else. When there are lots of tourists around to support bad restaurants, quality suffers. After a few unsatisfying and overly-expensive meals, we decided to stick with recommendations from the staff at our hotel and from our Rick Steves guide. We also started looking very closely at the people eating at restaurants. If the people at a restaurant are just chewing in stunned silence and/or seem unhappy, steer clear! If the people at a restaurant are eating and talking loudly and look like they’re having a good time, go for it.
Almost every waiter we encountered in Italy knew about gluten. In most cases all you have to say is “Niente glutine” and they’ll start pointing out what you can eat on the menu. In the rare instances that they don’t know what you’re talking about, you’ll need to pull out a list of offending items and then suggest things you can eat, which is basically what you have to do in the United States. I’ll post more about Italy and list some of the restaurants we visited soon.
Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly But Ask Questions.
Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same