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Jan 9, 2014 07:26 PM

Planning trip toTuscany/Florence, but a food allergy question!

My wife and I have never been to Italy, and are planning a spring trip. I'm considering Flying into Florence, spending 2 - 3 nights there, then going on to Tuscany, & staying at a agritourismo farmhouse outside of Sienna. My wife is allergic to red wine. We wondered about the cooking in that part of the country -- can she order dishes reasonably certain that they are not prepared with red wine, or do we need to ask the waiter about each and every dish? Or is this a part of the country where almost everything is prepared with red wine that perhaps it is not a good choice for our travel?

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  1. It's spelled Siena, and when you're in Florence, you're already in Tuscany, and it would be a shame to skip it because of a food fear.

    Do some studying about typical dishes. In general, the cuisine where you're going runs to grilled meats, which are no problem for you, beans, which are unlikely to be a problem, and soups and stews, which may contain a splash of wine. Just ask. At the agriturismo, it won't be a problem because you can discuss this ahead of time with the owner or cook (which may be the same person). In restaurants, she should say: "Se contiene anche un pochino di vino rosso, devo ordinare un'altra cosa. Sono molto, molto allergica," meaning If it contains even a little red wine I must order something else. I am very, very allergic to red wine."

    2 Replies
      1. re: bauskern

        Additionally, in Florence (where we spent a month this past summer), most of the places speak English very, very well. I think, as Maureen said, that the issue is to dramatize the allergy (restaurants can be skeptical that a "little" will hurt) and make sure that they understand the restriction includes any amount & even if it's "only" in the preparation and that they believe it cooks off anyway. Besides, good Italian ordering requires a conversation with the staff & not just ordering off the paper presented. Have fun… lots of good white wine in the region to pair with your food.

    1. You can order food allergy cards that translate your concerns into Italian (or any other language):

      My son has used these in France and Spain and never got "poisoned" with nuts.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Isolda

        That is a great idea; I'll look into that! I've heard great things about Tuscan cuisine (which I now understand to include Florence as well!), but the concern about the "hidden" red wine (in stews and sauces) has made us hesitant to travel there.

        1. re: bauskern

          Don't be shy in asking about each and every dish or showing your card. In Italy sometimes a sweet wine can be part of a pastry or dessert, or a cheese or salami can be aged in wine, so ask when you shop too. As indicated above, you will easily find a huge array of Tuscan food made without wine to choose from, so there is no need to avoid Tuscany. But do ask and be clear about the allergy. Restaurants and food vendors are very devoted to taking care of their customers needs and well being. They will not feel at all burdened by your request.

      2. I don't think it will be a problem bauskern. However, I suggest, as a precaution, that you tell them in advance - "Senza vino rosso per favore"
        I definitely would NOT give up visiting the Tuscan countryside - especially the area around Pienza - Monticchiello.

        Have a wonderful, safe and healthy trip :-)

        1 Reply
        1. re: acssss

          Thank you. I'm excited. Especially for the country side.