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Feb 19, 2011 09:39 AM

Venice trip in May will unfortunately be a gluten-free one...suggestions?

Have been to Venice many times but this will be the first with Celiac Disease. Any recommendations where I can pick up a few GF groceries, baked goods, etc? How about GF friendly restaurants? Would be willing to go to any area, including Mestre if necessary.

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  1. For Venice proper: there is a natural food store just north of the Rialto market on Campo de Beccerie that have gluten free bread and other items. The large supermarket, Billa, also has some gluten free items. There is a Billa on Strada Nuova and one on the Zattere. I don't remember seeing any items in the other supermarkets such as Coop and Punto. Other than that, I am not aware of any gluten free bread or pastries being sold in any forni or pastry shops.
    There are no GF friendly restaurants in Venice but one should have no problem finding things to eat at regular places: lots of seafood and vegetables for antipasti; risotto for primi; secondi without breadcrumbs or not deep fried; just discuss this with the wait staff.
    Mestre will have more places with GF groceries, etc, but I am not familiar with it.

    8 Replies
    1. re: PBSF

      Awesome - I did not realize that there was a natural food store close tothe Rialto market. That will help. At the restaurants I plan to frequent places where grilled foods are prominent on the menus. I will also have my restaurant cards along. Cross contamination is the biggest issue, even with grilling, so will be very careful.

      1. re: chefathome

        Cross contamination can be a big problem, especially when many places have a big pot of water for cooking pasta. That hot water might be be use for other dishes; maybe a splash to loosen up a risotto or to freshen up a contorni.

        1. re: PBSF

          Exactly. I think the only way to be 100% of CC is to eat in a dedicated GF place. It truly is difficult potentially sort of taking chances with my health! At home I can control the environment but traveling is an entirely different issue.

          1. re: chefathome

            Depending on how long you are staying and how many are traveling, renting an apartment might be a good option. The shopping at the Rialto market is fun and so is the cooking. And there is the saving. I am not as familiar with the rest of Italy but one will not find a gluten-free restaurant in Venice proper (not any that I have heard of in my more then ten years staying there).

            1. re: PBSF

              Just my husband and I. We go to Venice twice a year on the way to or from our house in Istria. Our stays are short since we go regularly (2-3 nights each time). We actually are staying in an apartment so perhaps we will end up doing our own thing. I sort of thought of that to begin with and discounted it. But on reflection it would be the wisest thing to do. Thanks for that.

              1. re: chefathome

                People have said on this board before that celiac disease is common among italians and well understood in Italy (unlike say veganism). Also (as you must know) the venetian cuisine is pretty simple and pure especially at the better restaurants, cant think of any breaded or floured items except for maybe fritto misto, what you see is what you get, pasta is not a big thing and the bread is unappealing.. I would think it would be one of the easier places to eat comfortably in Italy. Sounds like you have an adjustment process to go through. Good luck..

                1. re: jen kalb

                  I expect you won't have a problem at all. As was said before -- Italians are very aware of celiac disease. There are lots of dishes that will be safe -- for example hot polenta served with cold sardines and onions, or osso bucco. There are also a fair amount of trattorias and osterias that will have gluten-free pasta; sometimes you'll see a sign outside and sometimes you won't know until you go in and ask.

                  It's helpful to have a basic idea of how to explain your gluten intolerance in Italian, and to have something written down if you're not at all confident in your Italian:

                  Sono celiaca (I am a celiac). Sono allergico al frumento (I am allergic to wheat). Senza glutine, per favore (without gluten, please). Etc.

                  1. re: AdoreMore

                    My next trip will be my first GF as well. I understand that many farmacias have GF items, and that it is possible to bring your own pasta to a restaurant for cooking and saucing.

                    You would need to confirm that they will be using uncontaminated pasta water and pans. Risotto should be a safe bet, in theory, but I would want to make sure that their stock didn't contain wheat products, and that they haven't tipped in some pasta water. This would be unusual, but better safe...

                    You might find this encouraging:

                    Good eating.

    2. another thought--- I just posted a discussion about Home Food on this board. There are hosts in and around Venice, and the menus I saw were very GF-friendly; they are also open to dealing with allergies and preferences. Might be a nice idea for you if your dates line up.

      7 Replies
      1. re: sinjawns

        Thank you for your suggestions. I love the thought of the hosts with GF-friendly menus. We do have our dates lined up at this point. The GFG blog is one of my favourites. She has some very good suggestions. I suppose that sometimes I grieve what I am missing because I've been to Italy so often and know all about their regional cuisines but that, too, will get better with time. I keep telling myself that there are always options - I'm not going to starve!

        When are you going?

        1. re: chefathome

          Hi Chefathome.

          I am in a permanent state of planning for my next trip to Italy but have no firm date at the moment. I am one of the many Italy-addicts and have had the pleasure of long stays in various parts of the country. I hope to return many more times.

          Food is such an important part of the Italy experience, and like you I am mourning what I won't be having. But I am optimistically exploring all of the naturally gluten-free options in regional cuisines. I am happy that there are substitute pastas, breads and pastries but I would rather just aim for things that don't need adapting, like farinata, polenta, risotto, beans and lentils, the many secondi that will be open to me, fabulous fruit and veg etc. Let's not forget the cheeses and the chocolate.

          And the best news is:
          Grom (one of my favorite gelateria; there is one in Venice) that says "Grom collaborates with Italy's Celiac Assoc. to offer gluten free gelato, suitable for celiac customers, with the exception of few flavors". Hooray to that:

          What's the story on gelato, in general?

          Also, I know I would have to check individual preparations, but does anyone know if Italians tend to make fresh and dried sausages/salumi with breadcrumbs or other wheat products as additives?

          1. re: sinjawns

            Occasionally, yes, there may be gluten in salumi. You'll need to ask, but fortunately, it being Italy, most people know exactly what's gone into their food. (Obviously you'll want to go to a salumeria, not a generi alimentari, but if you're on Chowhound you probably would do that anyway. :))

          2. re: chefathome

            OK, now you have me longing and planning...

            I checked the website of the Associazione Italiana Celichia (AIC), and they have a restaurant certification program. They have given a certification to this restaurant in Venice:

            Sadly it is the only one certified, but its a start. Quality unknown, but there are two negative reviews (Italian) and one positive review (from a celiac) on Trip Advisor, FWIW.

            The AIC page for searching other areas is here (only in Italian):

            You can also see the logos on the site that signify gf-friendly establishments, such as the "Pizza Point" and the "Alimentazione Fuori Casa".
            Search by facility type on the left, then use the drop down menus below for region and province.

            Very best wishes for a happy trip.

            1. re: sinjawns

              Really, you don't have to go to restaurants certified by a celiac association. Most restaurants in Italy are very conscious of and very conscientious about celiac disease.

              1. re: zerlina

                I think I could take the chance at a regular restaurant since I am quite intolerant (get sick for a few days) but not celiac (where the smallest amount of wheat will do damage to your innards)

                For celiacs, it must be a great relief to eat somewhere where you know your concerns about contamination are taken very seriously. Da Poggi, for example, says that they do not wash their GF and regular dishes in the same water, and are meticulous about cooking and serving. They say with notice they can also provide GF breads, pastas and desserts etc.

                It would be hard to get that service elsewhere, the explaining would be tiresome and there is always the possibility of miscommunication.