People associate pasta, pastries, pizza and all things grain with the culinary mecca that is Italy. If you are gluten free, gluten intolerant, celiac or even paleo, Italy may seem like a no-go zone.
That is simply untrue. The fact is, TRUE Italian eating involves little grain at all. People don't eat pizza and pasta everyday. TRAVELERS and tourists eat pizza and pasta everyday because they are on vacation and why not- when in Rome, right?
Yes, a traditional Italian breakfast out consists of a pastry with a cappuccino however, you can find gluten-free options. For example, if you are in Florence and would like to try a sweet with your coffee- opt for something called Pan Forte which is a sweet cake made from sugar. honey, nuts and candied fruit (and no wheat) from Siena dating back to the 13th century. Otherwise, have a yogurt or opt for a gluten-free cornetto (brioche) which are starting to pop up in major Italian cities. Do not expect scrambled eggs, you will be disappointed.
Gelato shops are starting to pick-up on food restrictions and there are a couple in Florence that come to mind that offer totally vegan (dairy free) and gluten free options which are quite palatable. For example, check out Mordilatte near the Duomo for a allergen-free Hazelnut gelato or Gelateria de' Neri in between Piazza della Signoria and Santa Croce to get your chocolate and pistachio fix from dairy free, gluten free gelato made with olive oil.
Gelato shops are offering gluten free cones and brioches as well, keep an eye out for signs touting "senza glutine."
For lunch- there are many options. Beans are big in Tuscan cuisine so stay on the lookout, order salads loaded with delicious seasonal veggies like garden fresh tomatoes, order freshly sliced roast beef with risotto...there are options believe it or not. For dinner, enjoy meat mains which are rich in beef stews, fried rabbit, roast chicken with wild mushrooms, seafood such as octopus salad with potatoes, olives and tomatoes...the list is endless!
There are also some restaurants that offer Gluten Free pasta, pastries and pizza. If you'd like an extensive list for the best quality gluten free eateries, markets, cafes and gelato shops in Florence- check out the curious appetite blog!