Traveling with food allergies to Florence, Italy, one of the most popular tourist cities in Italy, is absolutely possible. The capital city of the Tuscany region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a city that was once the center for medieval European trade, is also known for its Renaissance art, incredible cuisine, and delicious red wines. Florence is somewhere I’ve been fortunate to visit a number of times, but on this recent trip I had the pleasure of experiencing some of the best of Italian gastronomy, which was not hindered by my food allergies.
On this trip I was already in Europe, flying from Madrid, Spain to Florence. There are lots of budget airlines that I’ve had success with over the years. If I have the choice, I usually aim to fly EasyJet, however it usually depends on timing and airports. Some of the budget airports in Europe fly to airports that are not actually near the city. Always, always check where you are flying into.
If you are already in Italy, it is easy to take the train system to get to Florence (and also many Italian cities and some Tuscan towns).
Where to Stay
There are numerous choices for accommodations in Florence. On this trip I chose to stay at an apartment, however there are plenty of exceptional hotel accommodations in some of the most stunning areas of the city. Below I have listed the apartment I stayed at in an excellent location as well as a 5-Star hotel that I had the joy of dining at safely while in Florence.
- My Boutique Home
- I stayed in this apartment right on Via Di Bardi, right along the Arno River. The Ponte Vecchio bridge was right around the corner and as a runner, it was fabulous to have the running path that goes along the river right by the apartment. The one big downside to this location is that because of its proximity to the river, there is a massive mosquito issue depending on the time of year. I was there in October and I was covered in mosquito bites. The apartment itself was great though and I think anyone staying along the river likely has this issue.
- Four Seasons Hotel Firenze
- Although I did not stay here, I did eat at the Michelin-starred restaurant in the hotel and they were exceptional with my food allergies. Like many 5-Star hotels, they took my food allergies seriously and were able to kindly accommodate them without any issues or concerns. My friend Lianne and I went to celebrate her birthday and they took exceptional care of us for the evening.
Where to Eat
There are hundreds of restaurants in Florence. On this trip and with the help of a good friend, I did have the opportunity to have some excellent meals. Below is my run down of restaurants.
*Side Note: I did not have luck finding safe gelato. The cross contamination at each gelateria I tried in Florence (five of them) was too risky with my food allergies (tree nuts and peanuts in particular). I have found gelaterias in most Italian cities that I’ve felt comfortable eating at, however on this trip I was disappointed to not find any that were clean and separate enough to feel like it was a safe risk to take. When it comes to gelato, you certainly have to weigh risk vs. benefit. In my opinion, the benefit did not outweigh the risk this time.
- Signorvino– Right around the corner from the AirBnb I stayed in. This restaurant faces the river and has beautiful views of the Ponte Vecchio bridge. I ate a delicious meat and salad plate with all plain, fresh ingredients.
- Hostaria Il Desco– This restaurant had clear allergen labeling and many options for those that need gluten free. It also had a certification from the AiC- Associazione Italiana Celiachia. I had a salad and a pasta dish that I enjoyed.
- Trattoria Gargani– The atmosphere here is incredible. Full of rooms of beautiful art murals, each room different. I ate a gorgeous salad and fresh pasta dish. They were wonderful with my food allergies.
- Trattoria ZaZa: I ate pasta and salad here. They have an allergy book with ingredients which could be helpful. Personally, it is super touristy and really not the type of place I would usually go in Italy. I wanted to try it because it has been recommended in our Allergy Travels Facebook group a number of times. I’m guessing that is due to location and an allergy menu since the food is so-so and it’s expensive for what it is.
- Trattoria Baldini: Since it was mushroom season, I ended up eating a lot of mushrooms on this trip, including in the simple pasta dish I had here. This is a little local neighborhood. The food is good and simply made.
- Il Palagio Restaurant: Dining at the Four Seasons is always a treat, and this Four Seasons Hotel in particular is absolutely stunning! The restaurant was fabulous with my food allergies.
- La Giostra Ristorante: The atmosphere and food at this restaurant is top notch. We had a delicious meal and they were great with my food allergies.
Since the historic center is quite touristy, there are more small grocery stores located in this area. The larger ones are found in the neighborhoods outside the main historic center. Some of the popular supermarkets to look for that will have the most potential food allergy options include Conad, Coop, and Carrefour Supermarkets. The one below is most central to where I stayed on this trip and is popular due to its proximity to the Ponte Vecchio.
- Conad– Located on a street perpendicular to the Ponte Vecchio at Via de’ Bardi, 43.
- Due to its location, it is small and busy however you will find the basic necessities quite easily.
What To See & Do:
Florence is filled with exquisite art, culture and panoramic views. If you have the time, I highly suggest going for a walk around the Arno and exploring some of the bridges and neighborhoods along the way. Below are some of my favorite spots!
- Torre di San Niccolo
- Ponte Vecchio
- Uffizi Gallery
- Palazzo Pitti
- Climb to the top of the Duomo
- Boboli Gardens
- San Miniato al Monte
- Piazza della Signoria
- Piazzale Michelangelo
Italy is one of my favorite countries to travel to with food allergies. Food is a significant part of the Italian culture and ingredients are minimal. Everything is typically made in the restaurant kitchen so they know every ingredient. Florence is a beautiful, romantic city that is not to be missed by the food allergy tourist or any for that matter!