Two years ago my hubby and I were in Italy celebrating our 20th Anniversary! I was so nervous about traveling to Italy since I have Celiac. I had done a lot of research and everything I read said don’t worry! Nima wasn’t available back then so no little gluten tester to come along on the journey, so I had to trust people and hope for the best. I was on Facebook this morning and the pictures of Venice popped up on my timeline reminder from 2 years ago! It’s hard to believe it has been two years. We were blessed to see the wonderful places, eat delicious food and make some awesome new friends from that trip!
We booked our Italy trip through Gate One They were chosen because we knew other friends who took the same trip a few months before us. It was very organized and we had a wonderful guide named Danielle! The only thing I will say is that we were on the move. If you are looking to see as much of the country that you can and have a great time doing it I highly recommend them. If you want to stroll through Tuscany for days, you might not want to choose the same tour as we did.
Day One: NY to Milan, Italy
We flew Air Italia from New York City to Milan. Our guide met us at the airport in Milan and we headed with a group to Lake Como. I was so tired after our overnight flight that I don’t remember much of Milan, except it was a big city. I was lucky enough to sleep a bit on the plane. My hubby watched all of the Godfather’s (fitting right) since he doesn’t sleep much on flights.
Day Two: Lake Como
We arrived in Lake Como and decided to head to lunch after checking into our hotel to force ourselves onto their time. We found a restaurant with gluten-free options right away. Senza Gluten became second nature to ask right away!
After lunch, we decided to have a short nap then find some espresso! We had our first group dinner that night so we could meet our new friends we would spend the next few weeks with! We discovered our hotel room had this strange toilet/sink thing in the bathroom. Of course, we had to google it! We found funny but appropriate YouTube videos of how to properly use a bidet! What an asset, or so we thought and decided we should teach the steps to our other travelers in case they didn’t know! We were excited to meet everyone at dinner!
We also found this one funny! It was people’s reactions to using a bidet for the first time! I might have just splurted my coffee out while rewatching it! BTW- Don’t use the brown towels for anything but your bidet!
We found espresso and delicious gelato with a gluten-free homemade cone around the corner from our hotel! Can you believe it- a homemade cone in a separate container, not touching gluten cones! They even used a new scoop and separate container of gelato!
Dinner was wonderful, overlooking Lake Como and involved several courses of food and wine. Our new friends enjoyed the education of the bidet and it quickly spread around the rest of the tour group!
Day Three: Boat trip to Bellagio
If you get a chance to visit Italy, don’t miss going to Lake Como. It is such a beautiful town and the area is phenomenal! We crossed the lake to Bellagio and viewed some spectacular houses. Some were owned by Richard Branson, George Clooney and the house from Star Wars!
We arrived in Bellagio and it’s so adorable! There are 3 sets stairs that go up the hillside to shops, houses and fun gardens to explore. We walked around the whole town, enjoyed some wine tasting and Caprese salad.
We headed back to Como and went out for dinner at the top of the hill. You had to take a vernacular up to get to this restaurant. What an experience that was! Our new friends from Calgary, Canada joined us as well as a Mom and her two daughters traveling together. The ladies from Calgary bonded instantly with us and will always hold a special place in my heart! We had a fun dinner with wine, you are going to pick up on a theme here… dinner, wine, lunch, wine etc.
On the way down the vernacular, after food and you guessed it- Wine, we met some fine people from Ireland. They had a similar dinner and we started sharing stories! They also had this funny toilet thing in their hotel room! Yup, you guessed it- we had to teach them the 8 steps to using a bidet! I think the whole vernacular was laughing until we were all crying. So much fun! It makes me smile thinking about it now as I type this long overdue travel article.
Day Four: Verona to Venice
Our tour hotel provided breakfast every morning before we boarded the bus to wherever we were off to next. I was so excited to find a gluten-free treat waiting for me almost every day! They had hard boiled eggs and meat, cheese and usually a sealed package of something gluten-free. Plus delicious Italian coffee!
Verona was beautiful! So much history and things to see. We walked through the city and saw the lover’s wall and Juliette’s statue.
Venice was not at all how I expected it. We were excited to see the gondolas and canals. Our hotel was right on the water and the sunset was stunning!
Our guardian angel, Danielle told us to explore and get lost in Venice! So we did! We walked around the city and found neat shops and saw people making wine in big wicker baskets. Such a pretty city.
We met two cute ladies traveling from Australia and England. In most restaurants, the tables are very close together so we made friends easily! We chatted and shared stories of her farming in Australia and ended up having wine and lunch laughing and making new friends.
Our tour added some new friends to our group, so we celebrated with a wine dinner at our hotel! Josh and I bought some extra bottles of wine and went up to the rooftop patio to continue visiting with friends!
Day Five: Murano and Venice
We went to Murano and toured the blown glass factory. So cool! I can’t imagine how many burns they have!
We had dinner with our friends Rick and Bev and decided to explore more of the city!
Day Six: Tuscany, Pisa and Arrive in Florence
We took a scenic bus ride to Tuscany, where we had a tour of a winery and olive oil production place. It was a beautiful lunch in an old barn surrounded by olive trees and grape vines!
Pisa was up next! It was a lot of vendors and shops to walk through to get to the leaning tower! We took pictures and walked around all of the buildings then found shade as it was very hot there.
Next stop was Florence! We went out to dinner to a little place by our hotel that served us the largest steak I had ever had in my life! Bistecca de Florentine! We passed on the pasta course and just had steak and salad! They served us house Sangiovese wine in a giant pitcher, that I thought was water! Only 3 Euros for the wine! Wine-not! So delicious and such a great night alone with my bestie! I love tours and meeting people, but sometimes I just need quiet time with him.
Day Seven: Florence
We toured the Accademia of Fine Arts and saw Michelangelo’s David the next day. Also other museums and architecture! It’s amazing to picture times years and years ago in these places! So hard to believe!
Lunch was at a cafe that had a delicious cold seafood salad and some Rose!
Pinocchio is also believed to be from Florence! So many cute shops with puppets in them.
We had a Tuscan Farm wine dinner that evening. They had live music and a buffet of food and wine! We have ordered wine from there since being home! So yummy!
Day Eight: Assi to Rome
We departed Florence and arrived in Assisi. It’s on a hill overlooking beautiful fields. We toured the Basilica di San Francesco. I wore shorts and a cute shirt that day, however, I also wore the cloak of shame to enter the Basilica. My shorts were almost knee length but not appropriate for church. They gave me a disposable scarf to put around me like a skirt to enter. I shared it with other tourists in our group who also needed one to enter. It was surreal to think of 13th century days and living there in that time.
We head off for Rome to add more friends to the group. We have a group wine dinner tonight!
Day Nine: The Vatican and Sistine Chapel
Touring the Vatican was very overwhelming for me! I had no idea it was so large! The pictures you see of the Pope’s window don’t give it justice! There are artifacts from around the world stored there. If only the walls could talk!
Next up was the Sistine Chapel. I couldn’t image the hours and hours of painting that occurred there!
We spent the rest of the day touring around Rome. We met up with some friends for dinner and relaxed after a long day of walking!
Day Ten: Ancient Rome Tour
The Colosseum tour was amazing! It was crazy to imagine the people sitting in the stands and the gladiators battled! The amount of bloodshed on the ground was harrowing. We got to see where the wealthy sat in the stands, how their slaves would warm their seats for them if it was cold. The pits under the floor where the gladiators were held until it was their time to live or die. Really overwhelming to think of all of the events that have occurred there.
We went to the opera for dinner and a show that evening. It was a wonderful experience and one of the singers sang to my hubby! Ha! Ha! She put a red scarf around his neck and sang some Italian love song to him. He was sold! It was a fun group experience and everyone laughed!
Day Eleven: Mt Vesuvius, Pompeii and Sorrento
And off we go! We could see Mt Vesuvius in the distance as we approached Pompeii. My Dad messaged me while we were on our way there and told me that while his Dad, my Grandpa was serving in WWII he was stationed in Italy. He said he was there when MT Vesuvius erupted! I felt nostalgic in the fact that I was near where my Grandpa had been many years before.
Pompeii is a very phallic place :/ I was not expecting that at all! Josh and I purchased a Christmas tree ornament from everywhere we travel and let me tell you this was not going to be the place! It was very hot there and the story of the town was sad. It felt like old testament Bible stories of people who were bad and wouldn’t listen to God, so He sent a volcano to erupt and wipe them out. Not really our favorite part of the trip. The cool part of the city was the Architecture and how modern they made it out of stone years ago! They had markets with to go food, sewer systems with giant rocks to walk on so you didn’t have to get poo on your feet. That was cool, the rest meh.
It was very hot in Sorrento when we arrived. Thankfully our hotel had a pool with really cool water and Lemonchello Mojitos. We had a group dinner that night but enjoyed the pool and mojitos with friends before heading off to dinner. It was a great way to relax and cool down.
Day Twelve: Capri
Let me just start out and say Capri was by far one of my favorite places I have ever been! The crystal blue water and beaches, the food and cute town. The only part of the town that scared me so badly was the road to the top! It was wide enough for one vehicle but they passed eachother, hanging over the cliff. We went up to Anacapri and had lunch overlooking the water. So many cute shops and lots of Lemoncello tasting! Cheers!
Day Thirteen: Amalfi Drive
We interrupt your regularly scheduled tour due to a huge fire….. Sadly we weren’t able to drive much of the Amalfi coast due to the coast being on fire. However, we got to see some cute towns, experience delicious cappuccino and spend another day in this beautiful country.
Day 14: Home
Today was saying farewell to all of our friends and off to the airport for NYC. Goodbye Italy! We had long conversations about selling everything and sending for our kids but decided reality was where we needed to be. Hopefully, someday we can sail back to Capri on our catamaran.
I hope this has given you a glimpse into Gluten free travel in Italy. I have to be honest that I didn’t get sick one time from anywhere we ate. Everyone there knew about gluten-free. The serving staff take their jobs very seriously and are familiar with how the chef prepares everything! I only had one restaurant the whole time tell me that they couldn’t feed me. I really appreciated their honesty and it was a wonderful experience. We are thankful to all of the wonderful people we traveled with and our experiences on this trip. They have become lifelong friends.