For my graduation present, my Aunt Paula and I decided we were going to go on an international trip. When choosing a place, we had to consider one very important fact. I have Celiac Disease: an autoimmune disease where I can't eat any gluten. Food basically runs my life and we needed a place that could accommodate me.

We did a significant amount of research and found that Italy is one of the top countries in the world for people with a gluten intolerance. This was very surprising since we, like most, thought Italy was all pasta and pizza.

However, the people of Italy view Celiac Disease as more of an illness than a mere "lifestyle choice." Since the Italians are so proud of their cuisine, they figure that EVERYONE should be able to enjoy it. 

From pizza to pasta—you name it and I ate it. Everything I tasted was fantastic. I literally ate my way through this country which means there are probably too many places to name; instead, I included my favorite restaurant from each city we visited.

In order to find these delectable locations, I utilized The Gluten-Free Guide to Italy by Maria Ann Roglieri as my guide. Additionally I called upon the help of a few natives to find the most authentic and delicious gluten-free cuisine.    

La Spezia: The cutest little city with so many pizzerias

ice cream, ice, cream
Lauren Tucker

La Spezia is a smaller town near the resort area of Cinque Terre. This beautiful town was not very touristy and much cheaper than staying in the five villages. We had some really excellent gluten-free food and gelato (ugh gelato, ily) in La Spezia.

Just a note about gelato: be very careful and choose a gelato shop that doesn't cross-contaminate. The best gelaterias make each gelato flavor separately anyway, but make sure they use a clean spoon to scoop your gelato.

#SpoonTip: Check this website for some certified Celiac friendly gelato.

The local cafes had some of the freshest salads I have ever eaten. But the pizza—there's nothing like gluten-free Italian pizza. 

pizza, bacon
Lauren Tucker

This was my first Italian pizza and it was FANTASTIC. Aunt Paula and I found this place from our book (see above). Pizzeria Il Lagora was the name of this dream come true. This was our first real "gluten-free specific" meal. My smile says it all.

Also, we had one of my personal favorite desserts at this pizzeria: "salame al cioccolato." This is a rice and chocolate dessert that looks like salami. (When I find a good gf recipe, you can bet it will be on here.)

Cinque Terre: The place of seafood and wine

Lauren Tucker

So this is one of the beautiful villages in Cinque Terre. We took the most beautiful ferry ride along the coast of the Ligurian Sea to see all five of the charming villages. We stopped at the fifth village called Monterosso. We were very hungry (and sunburnt!) so we looked around for a gluten-free restaurant. We spoke to a woman working at a restaurant and she pointed us to La Barcaccia. This was a hidden gem and we have never been luckier.  

beer, cake
Lauren Tucker

Aunt Paula and I started off with our first dish. We were in Cinque Terre so we had to get their two famous items: Cinque Terre white wine and anchovies. (Mom and Dad, I was legal in Italy!) The wine was obviously my first drink ever (right?) but was very, very good. The anchovies? Different. Very salty. I didn't mind them but Aunt Paula was not a fan.

pasta, spaghetti, sauce
Lauren Tucker

"Pasta frutti di mare" was this fine dish. This was the freshest seafood I have ever eaten with a light buttery sauce. It was for sure the best meal I ate in Italy. Overall, I would highly recommend La Spezia and Cinque Terre. 

Florence: The charming city and my future home (maybe)

beer, pizza, coffee, cake, tea
Lauren Tucker

I can't say enough good things about Florence but for now, I will focus on the food. In Florence, our favorite restaurant was Ciro and Sons. This goofy picture of me features some gluten-free Tuscan bread being dipped into Tuscan soup. Tuscan bread is typically dry and salt-less so what a plot twist when the gluten-free version was better than the regular! (Fellow Celiacs, amirite or amirite?)

Lauren Tucker

This is another awkward picture of me smiling with food. This restaurant was known for pizza so obviously I had to try it. This pizza was quite different from the one in La Spezia and had a surprisingly thick crust (something unheard of in the world of gluten-free). The fresh mozzarella in the middle was the highlight of my night. Also, peep the gluten-free beer in the corner. This restaurant had nice outdoor seating and a lovely atmosphere. 10/10 would recommend. 

Rome: The crazy city with gluten-free fried food (Say that ten times fast)

chicken, potato
Lauren Tucker

Aunt Paula and I did a lot of touring in Rome because well, you know... when in Rome. We took an especially excellent tour of the Jewish quarter and ended up at a restaurant called Mama! Eat. Featured above are the crocchè. These potato croquettes were basically fried mashed potatoes. We also ate mozzarella sticks, fried squid, and chicken nuggets.

I realized that I had never had gluten-free fried food. This restaurant has a separate kitchen (!!!) for their gluten-free friends like me. Basically, I was in heaven. 

Traveling Happy Is Eating Happy

beer, coffee, pizza, tea
Lauren Tucker

Overall, we had some of the best food I have ever eaten and it was a fantastic trip. Italians truly care about their food and are willing to go the extra mile to make us Celiacs welcome in their restaurants and their country. I will definitely be returning.

#SpoonTip: If you are planning a trip to Italy and want some more gluten-free suggestions, feel free to contact me by tweeting @spoonu_osu or email