Coeliacs abroad: Florence

Molly in Piazza del Duomo, Florence, Italy.

I recently visited Italy for the first time. I met my parents in Florence, where we stayed in a charming, convenient Airbnb for four nights (Friday to Tuesday).

I was excited about the culture but slightly apprehensive about what three coeliacs would eat in the land of wheat pasta and pizza. As with Amsterdam, I researched places beforehand and we managed well.

Here are some highlights from our trip.

Places to go

Istituto degli Innocenti

This was a surprise favourite. The Innocenti was founded in the 15th century to offer care for abandoned and orphaned children. The museum charts the history of the centre, using interactive screens and personal items to highlight individual stories. I received free admission because I’m an arts student, so remember your ID if you’re eligible.

Galleria dell’Accademia

An impressive building, home to Michelangelo’s David and other notable works. Book in advance online to reduce queueing times.

Statues at Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence, Italy.
A cheeky pose at the Accademia.

Galleria degli Uffizi

Another beautiful example of Renaissance architecture, the Uffizi is one of the world’s oldest art galleries. It’s extremely popular, so again I advise booking in advance. I loved seeing Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus.

View from the Uffizi Gallery Courtyard in Florence, Italy.

Basilica di Santa Croce

This Church features the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo. It also houses The Liberty of Poetry monument by Pio Fedi, thought to be an inspiration for the Statue of Liberty in New York. The stain glass windows and courtyards are worth admiring. We arrived early to avoid queueing in the afternoon heat, which worked well.

Giardino di Boboli

A ten minute walk uphill from Ponte Vecchio, the gardens form part of the Palazzo Pitti. This peaceful outdoor space offers beautiful views of the city and beyond. The stairs across many levels are challenging, so you may need to call ahead to enquire about wheelchair and pushchair access.

A view of central Florence and the Tuscan hills from Giardino di Boboli.

Places to eat

Ciro & Sons

This family business makes amazing gluten free pizza, reassuringly cooked in a separate oven. Their fluffy crusts are the result of a secret recipe. I had the Marinara – their award winning gluten free base with a rich tomato sauce, oregano and generous chunks of garlic, plus mushrooms and onions. The service was lovely too. I suggest booking ahead to secure an evening table.

Pizza Marinara at Ciro & Sons, Firenze.
I’m still thinking about it.

Ristorante Lorenzo de’ Medici

This place, opposite Ciro & Sons and just a few minutes from the Airbnb, offers good food and friendly service. I enjoyed the Vegetariana pizza without cheese.

Pizza Vegetariana at Ristorante Lorenzo de' Medici.

Hostaria il Desco

Approved by the Italian Coeliac Association, this place offers a range of gluten free options, including delicious bread. I created a vegan meal from a few side dishes – Tuscan beans, roasted potato slices and broccoli. The friendly team, quiet jazz music, air conditioning, white walls and artwork offer a pleasant atmosphere close to Ponte Vecchio and other sights.

Gluten free / senza glutine bread at Hostaria il Desco, Florence, Italy.

Gelateria Grom

Grom is a gelato chain with a commitment to gluten free options and sustainable business. We visited the store near the Duomo twice. I recommend the lampone (raspberry) and pesca (peach) sorbets.

Lampone / raspberry and pesca / peach sorbet from Gelateria Grom.

We loved staying in Florence. Four days felt like the perfect amount of time to explore the city. I’d recommend longer if you want to visit the surrounding countryside too.

I now feel more confident about going to different areas of Italy in the future. Do you have any other coeliac-friendly recommendations? Please let me know in a comment or on Twitter.

Thanks for reading!

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