Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Gluten Free in Rome

Photo courtesy of  Susan & John

In the land of pasta and pizza you may think that it would be difficult as a sufferer of coeliac to enjoy Rome totally. However Italy in general is very clued up when it comes to a gluten free diet so be prepared to feast on its treasures in every sense of the word. Many thanks to Susan and John who 'road tested' parts of the following itinerary.

First a word of warning. Most restaurants will be happy to substitute GF ingredients on their menu, however not all will subscribe to the strict rules that prevent cross contamination.
The places that are mentioned in this post are members of AiC 
and  have attended courses organised by them, are issued with a certificate and are subject to penalities if the rules and regulations are not followed.

If you haven’t already done so it may be worth downloading this Gluten Free Card to carry with you to show to hotel and restaurant staff.


Where to stay
AiC has several hotels listed including the Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria but the most centrally located is Hotel Mozart Situated in a palazzo in the very heart of the city, they also have a lovely rooftop terrace.

Hotel Mozart  official website

The hotel has two apartments close by which would be ideal if you wished to have a little more freedom to prepare your own snacks and drinks (pharmacies & PAM supermarkets have good GF selections), but still benefit from the amenities of Hotel Mozart, including the buffet breakfast.

Hotel Mozart official website

Depending on what time you arrive in Rome you may be ready to stretch your legs after your flight and enjoy a light lunch.

Walk along Via Condotti which is lined end to end with designer shop until you reach the Fendi Store on Largo Carlo Goldoni.

Continue on to Piazza di Firenze. This walk should take 10 minutes (or longer if you wish to window shop!)
Ciao Checca can be found at no 25/26 Piazza Firenze and is a lovely spot for lunch with plenty of GF options (see here) There is seating in the funky rooms beyond the counter.

This evening you might want to watch the sunset from the Spanish Steps then perhaps a little stroll or ‘passeggiata’ before dinner?

Walk along Viale Trinita di Monti until you see a small road on the right hand side, just past Villa Medici
This will bring you to the Pincio for a stunning view of the city.

Continue down to Piazza del Popolo, pausing before taking the final set of stairs to enjoy the view

From the Piazza pick up an official white cab to take you to Il Viaggio (Via Isonzo) where you will experience more traditional Roman cuisine and where every dish on the menu can be made gluten free.

Day 1

Take the metro from Spagna to Ottaviano for St Peter's Basilica

After your visit head out of the square and walk down Via Conciliazione

Turn left onto Via dell'Erba, continue on Vicolo d'Orfeo then turn right onto Borgo Pio for Mama Eat Street Food at number 28. This street food concept is 100% gluten free and is owned by Mama Eat (I’m suggesting you eat there tomorrow night ) Fritti is a big part of Roman cuisine and here you can enjoy all the fried foods that are not normally available gluten free.

Don’t worry if you want a more healthy option as there are salads available too!

This is a casual venue where food is served in paper cones, cardboard boxes or on plastic plates.There is a small amount of seating. However if you want to eat ‘al fresco’ you can take your food and drinks into the park surrounding Castel Sant’Angelo.

After lunch you might like a little retail therapy on Via Cola di Rienza. From this lovely tree lined shopping street you can pick up the metro from Ottaviano back to Spagna.
Look out for the street art as you exit the metro.

Tonights passeggiata will take you to the Trevi Fountain. Take Via Propaganda from Piazza di Spagna towards the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte.

If the church doors are open peek in to see two original angels that lined the Ponte Sant’Angelo. They were carved by Bernini and deemed too precious to be exposed to the elements. The other angels on the bridge were carved by Bernini’s students.

Continue along Via Sant’Andrea delle Fratte. Just before you leave the church peek into the cloisters on the left hand side - a little oasis of calm.

Continue onto Via Nazarene. On the left hand side you may spot the remains of the ancient aqueduct that still feeds water to the Trevi Fountain today.

Cross Via del Tritone and walk down Via Stamperia to the Trevi Fountain

It will almost certainly be crowded but make your way to the front to throw in your coins which will ensure your return to Rome!

Take the left hand street, Via Poli which will bring you to the taxi rank on Piazza Poli from where you can pick up a cab to Taverna dei Quaranta, a family owned restaurant with red checked tablecloth ambience. On the way you will probably get your first glimpse of the Colosseum.

Taverna dei Quaranta official website

Day 2
Head down Via del Corso and follow the signs to the Pantheon.

After your visit take Via Giustiniani from the piazza. This will bring you alongside Palazzo Madama (home of the Italian Senate) then if you cross Corso del Rinascimento you will arrive in Piazza Navona.

After enjoying this glorious piazza it’s time for lunch. Take the exit at the bottom of the piazza, cross back over Corso del Rinascimento onto Via dei Sediari then turn right onto Via del Teatro Valle, continue onto Via dei Redentoristi, turn right onto Via Monterone, turn left onto Vicolo dei Sinibaldi then left onto Via di Torre Argentina where you will see Pandali a totally GF bakery where you can enjoy lunch. Pandali was opened by four women, one of whom is gluten intolerant. Besides freshly baked gluten-free bread every day pizzas, salads and sandwiches are also offered. All the flours, from rice to buckwheat, from corn to chickpea, are selected with great care and grounded on stone especially for Pandali.

After lunch walk down to Largo di Torre Argentina.

Here you will see the Area Sacra, the remains of three Republican era temples. However it is more famous for being the site of the murder of Julius Caesar who was stabbed to death here. The actual spot is believed to be near the lone pine tree by the third temple.
The area is also a cat sanctuary and you will spot them enjoying the sun amongst the ancient ruins.
From here you can pick up a bus to take you to Lungotevere Marzio from where you can walk to Ara Pacis. Thanks to the architect Richard Meier who used a lot of glass in the museum building you do not need to go inside to admire this monument from the age of Emperor Augustus.

Across from the museum is the Mausoleum of Augustus, rather neglected at the moment but about to undergo restoration.

From here it is a short walk back across Via del Corso to Hotel Mozart.

Your evening passeggiata begins with a taxi ride to Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta.

You are looking for the door to the Priory of Malta with possibly a small queue forming outside. Join them for a peek through the keyhole which will give you a unique view.

You are standing on Italian land, looking through Malta towards Vatican City - three countries for the price of one!

Continue along Via Santa Sabina until you see this ugly looking fountain in the forecourt of the church of Santa Sabina.

Go through the gate alongside the fountain into Giardino diegli Arance (garden of the oranges) Walk along to the viewpoint for yet another magical vista.

Retrace your steps and continue along Via Santa Sabina for a short way then turn left onto Clivio di Rocca Savella.

This path will bring you down to the river. Turn right and walk along until you come to Ponte Fabricio which will take you on to Isola Tiberina.

Every summer, from mid-June until early-September, the banks of the Tiber river fill up with restaurants, bars, cafe's and shops. There is a fantastic outdoor vibe, and it's fun to even just stroll along and take in the scene, better still to stop and take it all in over a pre-dinner drink.
Walk across Ponte Cestio for a 10 minute walk to your dinner destination - turn right onto Lungotevere degli Anguillara, left onto Piazza della Gensola , right onto Via della Lungarina left onto Piazza di Santa Rufina, left onto Piazza di S. Calisto Continue onto Via di S. Cosimato (map here) at number 7/9 is Mama Eat for dinner - a completely Gluten Free restaurant (it might be worth asking the hotel to book you a table before you set out this evening)

If you decide not to have dessert at then there is a branch of Fatamorgana on the same square as Mama Eat.

Not only is this the best (in my opinion!) gelato in Rome, it is also GF, including the cones, or if you prefer you can get little cups instead. The flavours are interesting and might include 'Kentucky' (chocolate, cinnamon & tobacco - yes, you read that correctly!) or the delightfully named Thumbelina (almond, rose & violet)

Retracing your steps to Piazza di San Calisto will bring you to one of our favourite bars, Bar San Calisto

Rough and ready but full of atmosphere and the drinks are cheap! Ideal for a nightcap
Turn right onto Via dell'Arco di S. Calisto which turns slightly left and becomes Piazza di Santa Rufina Turn right onto Via della Lungarett then right onto Piazza Sidney Sonnino. You can pick up a taxi from Piazza Sydney Sonnino back to the hotel.

Day 3
Take a taxi to the Colosseum or you could take the metro from Spagna to Termini then change onto the B line for Colosseo.

The first view of this incredible building that, like the Pantheon, has stood for over 2,000 years is amazing. If seeing inside is something you really want to do then make sure that you book ahead (see here) before leaving home.

You will also see the Arch of Constantine – known as the ‘cut and paste’ arch as it was made up of friezes from other buildings.

Continue your walk up Via del Fori Imperiale which is lined with statues of Emperors, each beside their Forum (you may see scaffolding on the first part of this walk - ongoing works for the new Metro C line)

After you see the statue of Julius Caesar on the left hand side of the road….

…...turn left into Via San Pietro Carcere and continue to walk uphill. This will bring you to a view of the Arch of Septimus Severus

Walk up the steps to pass the statue of the She-Wolf suckling the twins, Romulus & Remus, the emblem of Rome.

This will bring you to the Campidoglio, a beautiful square designed by Michelangelo. The statue in the centre is Emperor Marcus Aurelius (who featured in the film ‘Gladiator!)

Take the path to the right of the central building for another view of the Forum with the Colosseum in the distance

The main structure that you can see is the Temple of Saturn, the oldest temple in the Forum, and where the captured treasure from conquered lands was stored.

Walk down the wide staircase, past the statues of Castor & Pollux

Carefully cross the busy Via del Teatro Marcello, continue on Via dell’Aracoeli and almost straight away turn left to bring you to the tiny Piazza Margana. Continue on Via dei Delfini/Via Funari to bring you to Piazza Mattei and the Turtle Fountain - a favourite hidden spot of ours. This walk takes 10 minutes at most.

Legend has it that the  fountain was built in just a single night by Duke Muzeo Mattei who was betrothed to be married. Unfortunately he gambled all his fortune & lost it overnight. The wealthy father of his sweetheart then cancelled the wedding but the Duke decided to show him how powerful a Mattei was, even without money, and had the fountain built overnight. The  next morning he invited his future bride & her father to his palazzo & pointed at the fountain saying ' here is what an impoverished Mattei can do in a few hours' All ended happily with the Duke marrying his bride but in order to forget his humiliation he had the window walled up as it still is to this very day.

The turtles are a later addition and are attributed to Bernini.

The green door in the right hand corner belongs to Palazzo Costaguti , the fabulous apartment rented by Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) in the film ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’. The piazza also appears in Woody Allen’s ‘To Rome with Love’

Take Via Falegnami from the piazza, cross Via Arenula to Piazza Cairoli.  Walking up Via Giubbonari will bring you to Voglia di Pizza which has a totally GF menu (also available non GF).

Retrace your steps to Via Arenula, turn left to Area Sacra from where you can pick up a taxi back to the hotel.

For dinner tonight take the metro from Spagna to Ottaviano then walk to La Soffita Renovatio at  Piazza del Risorgimento, 46/a which has a completely GF menu.

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