Eating gluten free in Italy is the stuff of dreams for people with coeliac disease.
I’ve written before about how great it is that Italians don’t automatically assume you’re a fad dieter, how Italian chefs think it is no big deal to cook for a coeliac (and are in fact offended that you think it will be), and how Italian gluten free food actually tastes good.
This summer I spent five glorious days in Naples and Ischia, and I want to share the gluten free joy with you.
Within about half an hour of arriving in Naples, I was eating a gluten free pizza.
I hung out in Naples on the way to and from the island of Ischia, and on both visits, I filled my happy face at Ciro Oliva Concettina ai Tre Santi, a cosy little pizzeria in central Naples. They serve some of the best gluten free pizza I’ve ever had.
I chose this pizzeria as it is listed by Gluten Free Roads. I didn’t experience any problems after eating here, but it wasn’t 100% clear to me what steps they were taking to minimise cross-contamination – it is a small kitchen and seemingly one big pizza oven.
Sometimes when you are a coeliac abroad, you have to take a chance, and fortunately, I suffered no ill effects. 🍕🍕🍕
In Naples, I found gluten free bread, pasta and snacks in pharmacies.
I also found gluten free pasta and snacks in the shop inside Naples airport, and a McDonald’s cafe just outside the airport which does gluten free burgers (why are these still not available in the UK?!).
Aside from stuffing my face with delicious gluten free pizza, I loved walking around the Naples backstreets and exploring the Museo Archeologico di Napoli, before I went on to Ischia.
Ischia is a sunny, friendly, mountainous and chaotic island just off the coast of Naples, and I spent a happy few days sunning myself and relaxing here.
I was attracted to visiting after obsessively reading Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, where the main character spends a memorable summer on Ischia. Walking through the seedy backstreets of Naples, listening to the rough Neapolitan dialect and lazing on the quiet beaches on Ischia brought the books to life.
I travelled to Ischia solo but ended up making a lovely Italian friend, Anna. We settled into a delightful routine of lying on the beach, practising our English/Italian, and swimming in the sea.
She helped me out by asking about gluten free food when we went out together. Usually, I get by with cod-Italian, but it really helped to be with someone who could ask the awkward questions.
On Ischia (in Forio, to be precise), I ate gluten free pasta with a lemon sauce (a local speciality), pistachio semifreddo and drank some fantastic local wine at one of the restaurants along Via Marina. I *think* it was this one, Ristorante Pizzeria Martina Rosa, but all of them seemed to offer at least gluten free pasta.
I ate some fantastic gluten free gelato (in a senza glutine cone!) in Sant’Angelo, the most beautiful part of Ischia I visited. Sant’Angelo was also home to the best lemonade, served by a hilarious old Italian man who promised me that his lemonade would make me happier than any English man. 👀 🍋
Look at the size of them!
I loved exploring the Neapolitan riviera, feeling the sun on my skin (a rare experience for a Brit) and experiencing the warmth and friendliness of the local people. I’m still dreaming about Spiaggia di San Francesco on Ischia, the island’s unparalleled lemons, and the amazing gluten free pizza in Naples.
This trip reinforced my love of Italy and my view that Italy is unexpectedly one of the BEST places for a person with coeliac disease to holiday. I hope to visit again soon.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about gluten free Italy, and where I should go next time!
Write to me in the comments below.
- I got my surprisingly affordable flights from British Airways, London Gatwick to Naples
- I travelled at the end of May, in low season. The weather was glorious, around 27-32 degrees celsius.
- I stayed at Poggio del Sole on Ischia. Pros: Good value, run by a lovely family, quiet, beautiful views, and they made me a nice gluten free breakfast each morning. Cons: It’s a long walk into town and to the beaches, gluten free options in the restaurant were not so great, the accommodation was a bit basic, and the pool wasn’t usable while I was there in low season.
- I found Ischia beautiful and relaxing, Naples more gritty and exciting.
- Fancy a trip? Find out more about Ischia and how to get to Ischia from Naples.
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