Italy is one of the most gluten-free friendly places to travel. Find out more about traveling to Florence, Italy gluten-free!
Gluten-Free Florence – Our family had a great time in Florence Italy and I’m going to tell you what we packed, where we stayed, and what gluten-free foods we enjoyed along the way.
We started our vacation in Venice, took a train to Florence, and then another train to Rome. We spent three nights in each city and stayed in major touristy areas (in quiet hotels though).
What we packed:
For our gluten-free Florence trip I had planned on bringing more gluten-free snacks but we limited ourselves to hard sided carry-on’s and a backpack and had to pack more clothes than expected. So, instead of packing all the snacks we had planned, we packed extra warm clothes, which apparently take up more room than snacks.
We still managed to bring some of our favorites though:
- Glutino’s Pretzels and Crackers
- A box of Annies Gluten-Free Mac n’ cheese (because we had an apartment, but I’ll get to that)
- Fruit Snacks, Fruit Leather
- Beef Jerky
- Enjoy Life Foods Bars
- Kind Bars
- Udi’s Bread
Although we didn’t pack all the snacks we wanted, we discovered Schar gluten-free foods while in Venice, Florence, and Rome. Almost every grocery store carried Schar. I wrote a post on how to pack for Europe in just a carry on, if you are interested.
Tips for ensuring a food-safe flight:
I wrote a post that covers airlines that offer gluten-free meals. Here are some of my top tips for eating safe on a gluten-free diet while flying.
- Fly with airlines that offer allergy friendly/gluten-free meals.
- Select the gluten-free meal when you make your reservation online or within 1-4 days of your flight. If you don’t see the option try going into your reservation after it’s confirmed. Sometimes airlines give you additional options like meal type, seating, and upgrades after your reservation is confirmed. If you go to your reservation and you still don’t see the place to update your meal preference, call the airline.
- Bring your own food just in case they make a mistake – they are only human! I have heard stories where people received a gluten-free labeled meal only to open it to gluten-containing food.
- If it doesn’t look right, don’t eat it. That’s why you brought some of your own food right?
- Call your airline (or check online) in advance to make sure they have your request noted. I made a request in advance once and found out when we got on the plane that the request was “reset” because the flight number changed. It was an annoying error on the airline’s part, but I should have double checked to make sure it was still noted.
Where we stayed:
For our gluten-free Florence trip, we focused on a hotel that was close to the center of town. When searching for hotels, always look at the location, extra amenities, and if they offer a gluten-free menu (in addition to the nightly rates, of course). When we planned our stay in Florence for our gluten-free Florence vacaiton, we wanted to stay right in the middle of all the action, so we only looked for hotels in the main downtown area. I narrowed my search by reviews, complimentary breakfast, and luckily came across the Hotel Casci – Firenze. Not only were the rates reasonable (less than $125 a night for the four of us), they offered gluten-free options at breakfast. Score! Each of the gluten-free cookies and crackers were pre-packaged ensuring that they were safe from cross contamination.
Our hotel was located across the street from a grocery store and within a 10 minute walk to everything we wanted to see. The complimentary breakfast included fresh fruits, hard boiled eggs still in the shell, individually packaged sliced meats, cheeses, and a basket of gluten-free goodies to choose from. We felt pretty safe from contamination with everything being pre-packaged.
The staff was really nice and offered gluten-free dining recommendations. We had already planned our meals (I always do research before we leave for our trip), but we appreciated the help.
Our room was fairly large by European standards and had a full bathroom and mini-refrigerator. We stocked up on additional snacks at the store and then set off exploring the beautiful city of Florence for our gluten-free Florence vacation.
What restaurants we ate at:
Every morning we ate at the hotel for breakfast. We filled up on eggs, cheese, meats, and gluten-free cookies and crackers. We loved our gluten-free picnic lunches in Venice and opted to do the same thing in Florence. There’s something special about eating meats, cheeses, fruits, and chips spread out on a stone staircase in the middle of a gorgeous city that make it seem like every bite is the BEST bite. It probably helped that my husband and I shared a bottle of wine and my girls happily sipped their fizzy orange sodas.
For dinner we ate at two places. The first I’m not even going to mention because it was terrible and we got sick, not from gluten though, from spoiled food. Luckily they are out of business now so we can move onto the restaurant that we loved so much we ate their the next two nights – Ciro & Sons!
The food at Ciro & Sons was amazing, the ambience was true Italy, the service was outstanding, the prices reasonable, AND the house wine was to-die-for. My girls and I opted for the wood fired pizza the first night, and pasta dishes the second night.
The chef came out to our table and talked to us about our options. They make their own special gluten-free pizza dough, and sell a mix for it. We enjoyed the wood fired pizza and took some of the mix home and made it a few weeks after our trip when we were craving pizza. It was just as good as it was in the restaurant. Definitely don’t miss this place if you visit Florence.
I actually updated my gluten-free pizza crust recipe after we ate at Ciro & Sons because I didn’t think it was good enough. It’s amazing now.
When we weren’t eating gluten-free pasta or pizza in Florence, we were checking out the pastries at Starbene Senza Glutine. There are several locations spread throughout Italy, including one in Lucca, Italy. All of them offer an amazing spread of pastries, small pizzas, and breads. Starbene is 100% gluten-free, and we loved everything we tried including these little pies and the puff pastries you see in the back.
What we did:
We did everything we could in the three days were were in Florence. We:
- Saw Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery
- Visited Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiore
- Walked through the Piazza del Duomo
- Walked through the Uffizi Gallery
- Walked through the Centro Storico (bridge) and did some window shopping
- Visited the Perseus Statue (pictured below)
- Ate gobs and gobs of Gelato
We were in Florence for three nights, then we packed our bags, another fabulous gluten-free picnic lunch with sparkling water and wine, and took a train on Rail Italy to Rome (post coming soon).