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Feb 24, 2012 02:44 PM

Travelling to Italy with many dietary restrictions

Hi there. We are travelling to Italy in 2 week and my 18 month old daughter is allergic to wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts and soy. For religious reasons we can not have any meat or alcohol in our food. Will we find places to eat? I have found many places that are gluten free but the problem is that alot of the gluten free items still have egg or dairy in them. Does anyone have any advice or recommendations for us? I am stressing out in a major way! We will be staying in the following cities: Rome, Naples, Sorrento, Venice, Milan, Florence and Siena.

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  1. You probably need to seek out vegan restaurants to meet your overall needs (no dairy eggs or meat). Or bring your own food or cook yourself. But vegan places tend to have a lot of soy and nuts.

    In my experience as a vegetarian visiting Italy, most mainstream restaurants think that anchovies and bacon are both perfectly okay for vegetarians. I can handle that in small doses, sounds like you may not. Alcohol is probably also a frequent ingredient in sauces. It's very uncommon to use or serve cheese with seafood in Italy, so that might be a direction to go, especially if you stick to simple grilled fish and seafood (although some might baste with butter).

    1. No restaurant will mind that you bring your own food into restaurants to feed your daughter. If she is too young to understand that she can't chew on the breadsticks or bread, make sure they are taken off the table. Almost all Italian restaurants have cooked potatoes, grilled vegetables and fresh fruit at all times you can order for your daughter to keep her amused at the table. (Almost all pasta, gnocchi, risotto or soups will have wheat, dairy or eggs in them.)

      For yourselves, I highly recommend that you invest in a copy of Fred Plotkin's Italy for the Gourmet Traveler. For all the places you are going, Plotkin describes the classic dishes of each region or city, and how they are classically prepared. If you note which dishes you can eat, and follow his restaurant recommendations and order those dishes, you will eat extremely well without encountering meal or alcohol in your food.
      However, many dishes in Italy are prepared with wine, or use pork fat in lieu of butter or oil, so that is something you will want to watch out for. Plotkin's book will give you lots of pointers about all sorts of dishes you can eat and where to find them.

      1. when you say no meat, do you mean no animal flesh (meat, fish,poultry) or just meats?
        It should be possible to get simply prepared fish and seafood (cooked with olive oil) most places. Rice , polenta, etc are usually prepared with some dairy (butter) or meat broth component, so that is not an answer if you have dairy and meat prohibitions.I suspect you should bring along or purchase special foods for your daughter and focus on your own needs. Vegetables propared with olive oil, and salads will be eatable, as will the fruit often served at dessert time. Celiac problem (wheat allergy) is well known in Italy and you should be able to find products for your daughter that help her through the trip. There have also been other threads on this board on people with her allergy profile, if you search you will find them.
        but I do think you should focus primarily on your own eating plans - an 18 month old can be managed.

        1. Thanks everyone for your replies, they have been extremely helpful.