A Gluten Free Rome
When you hear the words Italy and gluten free in the same sentence, it’s pretty hard to believe. I mean you wouldn’t really expect a country that is famous for pasta and pizza to also be top notch at gluten free food.
Well mates, surprisingly it is.
Everywhere you turn in Rome there is at least one restaurant within walking distance advertising ‘Senza Glutine’ (the term for gluten free in Italian). And to think, all I could get on my BA Flight from London was a M&S millionaire shortbread.
Arrived in Rome Termini Station. It was lunchtime and time to grab a quick snack.
The McDonalds in Rome do a gluten free burger – say whaaaaat!
And before you worry about cross contamination, these double cheeseburgers are wrapped in their very own individual packets and microwaved. OK, I know what you’re thinking, a microwave burger? It’s actually OK, and the best part is that’s it’s in a Schar bun – defiantly good for a quick, cheap snack to get you ready for walking around this beautiful city.
After a few hours of wandering around, we head to our hotel. The Occidental Aurelia which is located just 15 minutes on the metro from the city centre has recently been refurbished, and looking at the previous TripAdvisor pics, it’s easy to see that they have done a pretty decent job. As we were celebrating our 8 year anniversary, not only did the hotel upgrade our room but they also left us a little treat too.
After some research on places to eat for dinner (Daisy) and unpacking (me), we were ready to hit the town. First stop was the Colosseo area to have a little wander before dinner. Rome during the day is spectacular but at night time when everything is lit up, that is what I call beautiful. Those that say Paris is the most romantic city in the world have certainly not been to Rome.
After a beautiful stroll we finally arrived at our chosen destination – Pizza in Trevvi. The thing that sold this restaurant to me is that it has a separate gluten free kitchen to try and eliminate that dreaded cross contamination. When our gluten free pizzas arrived, we were also handed separate packaged cutlery. I opted for a gluten free beer with a subtle taste of walnuts, very refreshing. I was really looking forward to this pizza because Pizza in Trevvi have worked upon their recipe to perfect the taste. I’ve got to say I was slightly disappointed. I ordered the seafood pizza – the sauce, the flavours, the fish – OMG wow. Yet the base I just couldn’t understand. To be fair it wasn’t dry nor hard, but the texture was slightly off. If I had to pinpoint it, I’d say it was a cross between a ciabatta and a crumpet. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t unpleasant, just not to my taste.
For dessert I went for a silky tiramisu. The base was slightly hard and I didn’t get that lovely coffee alcohol taste however the top section was so smooth and sweet that I can forgive the rest.
So the plan for today was supposed to be a trip to the Vatican but seeing as it’s only open one Sunday of the month and it’s free on this day, I wasn’t feeling very optimistic. Boy was I right. A queue even further than the eye could see – the pictures really don’t do it justice…
To be honest I’m not a big queuing person but if I have to I will. So me and Daisy tested to see how quick the queue would move. She waited in the queue whilst I went to find the end of it and return to see how far Daisy would get after my 10/15 minute walk (yeah I told u it was a long queue).
I couldn’t see her, did I walk past her somehow?
Maybe she’s got further than I thought…
Oh wait. She’s over there – a few steps from where I left her.
There was no way I was queuing that long (grumpy Sean alert). Maybe next time.
Right around the corner from this queue was a much smaller queue leading to St. Peter’s Basilica. A quick metal detector and bag check, and five minutes later we were in.
The St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest and wealthiest basilica in Italy. It was constructed in 1626 on top of a 4th Century church and took 120 years to complete. It is adorned in some of Italy’s most famous artwork including Michelangelo’s Pieta. We were lucky enough to walk in during a Sunday service where a choir echoed through the basilica which really enhanced its regal atmosphere.
In front of this huge grand building were hundreds of chairs and two large screens – didn’t think anything of it until on the way home we saw that the Pope has done his Sunday speech that day – Yup we missed the Pope.
A few minutes walk from St Peter’s Basilica, tucked along a pretty street is a quirky gluten free fast food eatery called Mama Frites (also known as Mama Eats Street Food). This fast food version of the restaurant Mama Eats consists of a menu of fried food – perfect for a cheat day. You can either eat in or takeaway but we chose to eat in. It’s relaxed, friendly, and was very quiet. We shared a large portion of chips and a large Cuoppo Capri (shrimps, calamari and anchovies). There was also a huge variety of dips which were served in small pots so Daisy got to have her some hot sauce. I washed it all down with a gluten free Peroni. The food was really good and the portion sizes are huge. I was that stuffed that I didn’t even get to try the doughnuts (sad face).
Next up was a walk to the Pantheon to burn off this lunch. The Pantheon is a Roman temple that was constructed between AD118 and AD125 by the emperor Hadrian. It is free to enter and there wasn’t a queue – bonus.
Not far from the Pantheon is the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. If you love cats and love old ruins (like I do) then this is the perfect combination. It is literally lots of stray cats that have made their new home in a castle ruins. The cats are well cared for and the sanctuary is run entirely by volunteers. There’s also a little shop where you can meet some of the cats and even buy something to help support them.
Next stop was the Spanish steps. To me they’re just steps and just another site to tick off Daisy’s list. The Spanish Steps were built in 1723-1725 in order to connect the Trinita dei Monti Church with the Spanish square. There was a nice view from the top of the stairs and a cool little bar at the top, but the terrace roof was closed so we didn’t bother going in – anxiety of sitting in an enclosed space would have crept in.
For dinner we had decided to go to Voglia di Pizza, a predominantly gluten free restaurant except for a couple of items. The restaurant boasts a huge gluten free menu. As the menu seemed so good, we decided to eat big. We went for a pizza (salmon and rocket) for starters, and I had to double check it was gluten free because it tasted that good. Of course I had an aperol spritz to wash it down with, maybe 2… I then had the land and sea spaghetti which was shrimp and sausage in a tomato sauce. I’m not the biggest lover of pasta, however; it was cooked really well and the flavours were fab. We sat outside which was probably a mistake as I got tricked into buying a plastic elephant and turtle by a street salesman (you’ll come across them a lot in Rome). But apart from that, the food was great and the service was even better. If you’re in Rome check it out.
Voglia di Pizza verdict: Best gluten free pizza in Rome.
Day 3 home time 😦
After checking out we headed straight to the Colosseum. The queues weren’t that bad but it was a Monday morning. If you want to avoid queuing, buy tickets in advance online to save time.
So, the verdict on the Colosseum is that it’s worth seeing but it’s slightly overrated because it was smaller than I expected. The good thing about the ticket is that it comes with entry to The Forum & Palatine Hill which are located just opposite. There’s so much to see here and if you get the chance, bring a picnic and take in the beauty from the terraced gardens.
On the way back to the train station, we grabbed an ice-cream from Grom which is a gluten free ice cream chain (you’ll see a few in Rome). I picked a pistachio ice cream in a cone (all GF of course). OMG I was in heaven. I could actually eat an ice cream and not have to worry about the cross contamination situation – oh Rome I love you.
Within 10 minutes walking distance from the train station we found a restaurant named Santa Maria. It had a really nice outside seating area with heaters and a sign saying ‘gluten free food’ which lured us in. We shared a pizza and mussels, and once again it was so so good. They didn’t have any gluten free deserts but the waiter bought out two gluten free lemon cupcakes in plastic packages for no extra charge.
The final excitement of my gluten free trip to Rome was discovering Venchi chocolate at the airport and finding out that it was all gluten free – those Cuba Rhum chocs are now my new fave.
After that, it was home time and I really didn’t want to go.
In Rome I hadn’t felt the struggle of finding food like I do in the UK and I didn’t have to sit at a table worrying about cross contamination. I thank you Rome and I will be back soon (I hope).
The Coeliac Abroad