At the end of July, I spent 10 days of holiday in Italy. First, we stayed five days at Lake Garda and after that five more days in the Cinque Terre at the west coast of Italy. Going on holidays became slightly less spontaneous since I follow the low FODMAP diet and have IBS. I think my fellow fodmappers and other people with food intolerances will recognise this. When you are on holiday you want to be able to do the same as your friends and family. Go to a restaurant, go out for drinks and eat ice cream! As a fodmapper you can still do this, but it just takes some more preparation. Randomly walking into a restaurant and finding something you can eat is never guaranteed. Therefore, I wanted to share my experiences with eating low FODMAP and gluten-free in Italy at Lake Garda with you. If you are going to the same place or somewhere else in Italy this might help you to find low FODMAP and gluten-free things to eat! See also my earlier blog about eating low FODMAP in Bologna. Next week I will share another blog with my experiences in the Cinque Terre (<– update: the blog post is now online)
Firstly, it is nice to have the possibility to cook for yourself. We choose an Airbnb for our holidays, but when I was a kid I usually went camping with my parents in Italy and then it is also easy to cook your own meals. The Airbnb we stayed at was fantastic! We were incredibly surprised. Of course, we had seen on the pictures that it was a beautiful apartment, but it was even better in real life. I felt like staying in a five-star hotel! Everything was there, cooking utensils, a washing machine, a dishwasher and even our own terrace. Beatrice, the owner, left us some food so we had something to eat for breakfast and some basic foods to cook with ánd, even though I didn’t mention anything about my intolerances, there were even several packages of gluten-free crackers and there was gluten-free pasta! So sweet! If you are still looking for accommodation at Lake Garda I can highly recommend this apartment! I really liked being able to cook my own food. I love eating out, but if I have to do it three times a day the chances that something goes wrong are a lot higher than if I just do it now and then, therefore it is nice to have the opportunity to cook.
Our apartment was situated in Toscolano Maderno and we were only 200 meters away from the beach. The place was quiet and not flooded with tourists as some areas at Lake Garda are. It was wonderful.
Because we had our own kitchen we cooked our own meals quite often. Most Italian supermarkets have a big department with gluten-free and lactose-free products. I loved it! We went to Migross and they had lots of choices there. Several kinds of lactose-free cheese (great if you cannot eat any lactose), gluten-free fresh pasta and the delicious gluten-free gnocchi that you see on the picture! They also had several kinds of gluten-free bread and sweet snacks. Make sure to always read the ingredients list on the package of gluten-free products, because some might have other ingredients that are high in FODMAPs.
Conad is also a good supermarket that sells gluten- and lactose-free products.
Everything was so pretty!
On our first night, Matic and I celebrated our one-year anniversary and we went out for dinner at restaurant Al Braciere in Sirmione. In this restaurant, you could get EVERYTHING on the menu gluten-free. WOW. I never saw such a thing in the Netherlands. All the dough dishes, pasta’s, pizza’s and even dumplings were available gluten-free! You could really see that they cared about their gluten-free customers.
Of course, gluten-free does not equal low FODMAP and sauces do often contain high FODMAP ingredients such as garlic and onion, but the staff was very friendly, so you can always ask about this.
I choose the safe way and took a pizza. Italian dishes are often very pure and if a pizza has a base of tomatosauce, you can be almost sure that this is only tomatoes, without any other ingredients added. Therefore it is easy to pick a low FODMAP pizza from the menu and eat that. I choose a delicious pizza with blue cheese and walnuts. The base of the pizza was quite tough, but this is often the case with gluten-free pizza’s and I didn’t mind.
For dessert, I took something that looked like the Dutch Arretjescake, a cake made with cookies, cacao powder, butter and sugar and this was a gluten-free version of course. I always take a lactase pill with my desserts, because I find it annoying to have to avoid lactose too, next to everything else. When I take a lactase pill I tolerate lactose well, so that is nice.
This was the view at peninsula Sirmione.
A simple home-made lunch with a gluten-free bread!
On our last day at Lake Garda, we went to beautiful Limone sul Garda. Very touristic, but so beautiful!
Later, we drove further up to Riva del Garda on the north side of Lake Garda, where we visited another restaurant. Unfortunately, I can’t find what the name of this restaurant was, but it was at a central square and on the menu, outside of the restaurant, it said that the restaurant was suitable for people with Celiac disease. I usually don’t pick pasta in a restaurant, because sauces often contain high FODMAP ingredients. Spaghetti carbonara, however, is a safe choice, because it only contains eggs, bacon and parmesan cheese. They made me this pasta with gluten-free spaghetti and I had a great meal!
Finally: I already did some research for restaurants before going on holiday. That is good to do, so you know where to go to your holiday destination and you don’t have to search long for a suitable restaurant. That was also how I found restaurant Al Braciere. Another restaurant that was on my list was Pizzeria Al Torchio (Via Europa 1 in Tignale Gardola). Apparently, the have the best gluten-free pizza’s ever. Also, restaurant Kapperi (Via Nazario Saura 7 in Desenzano del Garda) has an entirely gluten-free menu and at Gelateria Al Pozzo in Riva del Garda, they supposedly have great ice cream with gluten-free cones. I didn’t visit those last three restaurants, but these are tips that I found on the internet. Might be worth a try!
Eating low FODMAP and gluten-free in Italy is not too hard luckily! What are your recommendations for the holidays?