Traveling used to be so incredibly simple for me. I would find food at ease and go to whatever restaurant I wanted to, when I was hungry. Of course I didn't feel well afterwards, but it sure seemed simpler! Today, I google, I call, I feel nervous, I google some more, then it all seems to work out. I had the most awesome vacation a few weeks ago where I spent time on the Italian Riviera (Rapallo, Portofino, Santa Margherita, Camogli and the Cinque Terre) and in Switzerland (Zurich, Bern, Lucern, and Baden).
Italy is hip to gluten intolerance and celiac disease. It's not hard to find food in most grocery stores and pharmacy's that cater to the gluten free traveler. Switzerland was a bit harder, but in the end totally do-able. I have to admit, when I see a food market, a pharmacy or other food vendor, I always have to check to see what they offer. I am sure my travel companions get tired of me always stopping in to check out the markets! I have found that is is absolutely necessary to have a hotel or apartment with a kitchenette when traveling abroad. Going out to eat should be a treat, not a chore. I cooked everyday while on the trip, but I was never deprived. Everyday I made myself a Nutella rice-cake sandwich to enjoy while others were having chocolate croissants. I packed a lunch with gluten-free Shar bread. I devoured the cheese and yoghurt in Switzerland and I had my fair share of chocolate bars, fresh olives and cappuccinos in Italy. I didn't get sick and I didn't feel hungry...not once.
Here are some tips and a list of awesome places to get some good food in Italy and Switzerland.
Plan your stays in various cities based on the open air food markets. These are delectable and honestly, you wont find better produce. Sweet cherries, peaches, nectarines, strawberries and apples were in abundance and all grown in Italy. It was heaven. We stayed in the Ligurian region. Markets are held daily. http://www.initaly.com/regions/liguria/markets.htm
Billa Supermarket- Rapallo, Italy
I stocked up on fresh pesto, gluten free penne pasta, fresh mozzarella cheese, veggies and chocolate from this market. Salami and other cured meats are labeled gluten-free (senza glutine)
Ristorante Da Paolo, Camogli, Italy
I've been to this restaurant three times and they always know what to do. I believe the chef has Celiac disease. The meal is pricy, but worth it. I recommend going at lunch, but make a reservation! Fresh grilled calamari with olive oil, herbs and garlic, with a insalata mista was fantastic!
Ristorante Da Paolo, Via S. Fortunato 14, Camogli
Restaurant Il Cancello, Portofino, Italy. This restaurant is at the Palace hotel offers gluten free meals.
Kerala Indian Restaurant, Zurich, Switzerland. This restaurant treated me like a queen. They have an incredible amount of gluten free items on the menu and were very proud and sure of providing me a safe meal. On top of all the good service, the food is excellent. Our meal included vegetable pakora (made with chickpea flour), tandoori chicken, malabari chicken curry, aloo gobi vegetables and a indian pudding with cardamom and coconut milk for dessert. Yum. Yum. Yum.
Muller Vital Shop, Zurich, Switzerland- I was able to buy a selection of breads, rice-cakes, musili, and snacks from here. This is great place to supplement your fruits, veggies and yogurt which are abundant in Zurich.
The Drogerie +Reformhaus +Naturheilpraxis in Stein-am-Rhein, Switzerland sells a selection of GF products, including a few gluten free baked goods.
The Marinello market in Rail City (main Zurich train station) carries a selection of gluten free bratwurst and sausages. They are all delicious! Just read the fine print on the allergen statement. Marinello is even open on Sunday, as everything else seems to be closed!
Other grocery stores in Switzerland were my lifesaver. I went to either the Coop and Migros daily. They are found in almost every town and you can stock up on the best yogurt you will ever eat plus meats, cheeses, fruits, veggies and nuts.
GF pasta with pesto, spicy sausage,
wilted spinach and fresh mozzarella