Gluten Free in Europe!

Written by Hayley February 19, 2019

I always knew I wanted to study abroad. After hearing about CIMBA freshman year, I specifically planned my college course work to match the program’s spring class offerings. After being accepted to the program, I began preparing for my trip to Italy, the land of pasta, bread, and pastries. One issue, I have a gluten allergy. I thought, “How in the world am I going to survive with a gluten allergy in Italy?”

Traveling abroad with a gluten intolerance or any allergy can be an intimidating thought- at least it was for me. I didn’t want my diet restriction to interfere with my desire to travel, so I began researching gluten awareness in Europe. I was concerned I would have to live on protein bars, granola bars, and rice cakes with peanut butter. I wasn’t thrilled about these options, but I decided I could do it if I had to.What I found online is that Europe is well aware of gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease. In America, many people view gluten free as a fad diet or food trend, whereas, in Italy, they take the disease very seriously.

After being in Italy for about 3.5 weeks and traveling to Spain, I have not experienced any gluten contamination, and every restaurant I have dined at has had gluten free options. The key to success in saying to the waiter, “senza glutine” meaning without gluten in Italian. I have eaten some of the best gluten free lasagna, pasta, and bread here in Italy! For dessert, I always need to have my chocolate gelato!

On campus, the CIMBA staff has gone above and beyond my expectations for gluten free options. They are educated and eager to accommodate my needs. They have an assortment of gluten free pasta, bread, muffins, brownies, and crackers. Just like in America, Schar is a popular gluten free brand in Europe. Another new brand I love here is San Giorgio and Grisbi. Additionally, the vegetables, potatoes, meat, and fish options are almost always prepared gluten free.

CIMBA also takes students to three gourmet dinners at local restaurants. The CIMBA staff notified the restaurants about my allergy, and they gave me a blue ticket saying, “celiaco” and I was served all gluten free options. The food was AMAZING. I’m excited to continue traveling and exploring my gluten free options!