The Road Forager: Gluten Free pizza in Florence, Italy!


It’s kinda funny, but it was easier for me to eat “Paleo” and gluten free while in Italy than when I travel in the US or Canada. What gives? Isn’t the Italian “Mediterranean” diet FULL of pasta and carbs, especially gluten containing varieties? Well, yes and no. As you will see in later installments, eating low-carb Paleo is a snap, and damn tasty. This episode is about enjoying some of the uniquely Italian dishes we all love without getting sick from them. We’ve had a few clients who travel to Italy ( or Thailand, or Japan…really wherever) who maintain their food pretty easily. Others hand-wring about how tough it was. Hmmmm. Interestingly, the folks who find it tough on the road also have compliance issues at home, but I’m sure that is only a correlate, not a causative issue…

Now, Italy is interesting in that folks HAVE historically eaten loads of gluten containing pasta. Ya know what? Tons of people there are gluten intolerant! They screen for it at birth, and ANYWHERE you go to eat if you say “Sono Celiaco” they know exactly what to do, and remarkably…I never got sick while traveling there. The US is about 10-15 years behind the curve on this awareness. It’s not that gluten or similar grain intolerance happen less frequently, we are just not aware of them yet. I also find it ironic that an Italian, Alessio Fasano, was one of the first people to draw the connection between gluten intolerance, gut damage and other autoimmune diseases.

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  1. David Csonka
    November 17, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Oh man, I bet that is loads better than the gluten free pizza I can get here (USA) from the grocery store. #jealous

  2. michele
    November 17, 2010 at 9:21 am

    love the road forager series SO much.

    i do have a tiny request though – could you get rid of the split-screen title thingie?

    • Robb Wolf
      November 17, 2010 at 1:03 pm

      this is all done on my iPhone. i’ll see about doing it on iMovie on my laptop, but I’m trying to do this as time-efficient and low-tech as I can.

  3. Tuck
    November 17, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Great post, Robb. If the Italians haven’t adapted to wheat, what chance do the rest of us have?

  4. Ramsey Clark
    November 17, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Was there cheese on that pizza?

    • Robb Wolf
      November 17, 2010 at 1:02 pm

      Can you call it pizza without cheese? Interestingly, I did not get acne from the Italian cheese. US cheese, always.

      • Derek
        November 18, 2010 at 11:13 am

        Think it might have to do with it potentially being raw milk cheese (something strictly proibito here?)

  5. RP
    November 17, 2010 at 10:18 am

    LMAO when you threw out the “trots” !! Precisely the reaction I have to gluten loaded pizza which sucks considering I love it but not worth the unproductive hours spent catching up on old magazines in the “front office”. Rut turned me on to a gluten free option at a joint 5 mins from the house and it’s LEGIT. Take care and thanks again for leading the charge. -RP

    P.s. With no urging by me, my roommate took your book after I’d finished and he’s now on Week 4 of clean eating and feels amazing. One more for the good guys.

  6. Flavio M.
    November 17, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    A bit on the tiny side but sure made me drool :) Man do i miss pizza!

  7. Cornell
    November 17, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I am more on the greek side for holidays, but who knows when I am back in Italy?

    Really good to know.

    Thanks and sono celiaco, please!

  8. Chi Town
    November 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I live in Chicago and there is a restaurant called Marcello’s that serves a gluten free deep dish pizza that is excellent. I suggest it for anyone who has a visit.

  9. Hans Keer
    November 18, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Looks nice. Still would not like something with rice and potato flower in it, but one has to be flexible every now and then. Lucky for you that Nicky is gluten free :)

  10. Daniela
    November 18, 2010 at 6:01 am

    Robb this may sound like a silly question (and I know you never get tired of those:) but when you are at a restaurant how do you know the cooks are not preparing your gluten-free meal on a contaminated counter? Did you ask the pizzeria if they had separate ovens? Wouldn’t have thought to ask about that…

    • Robb Wolf
      November 18, 2010 at 9:34 am

      Yea, in general they ARE preparing it on a dirty counter, or using a utensil that is contaminated. That’s my point, they had all those bases covered. This Rarely happens in the US. I am sick 90% of the time I’m on the road. You can graph my health and athletics and see it just tank when I travel. Interestingly, the Italy trip was fine. That is the point of this series to some degree, to let you folks know WHAT to ask. Slowly, it will increase awareness and change how things are done.

  11. gilliebean
    November 18, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Awesome!! Yes, I too laughed at “trots.” Glad you enjoyed it. I *love* this series!! And regarding the split-screen title thingy: just frame a little to the left and you should be find. ;)

  12. Cameron Currie
    November 18, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    This article has me really excited. I am about to make a move to Italy for the next two years. I was worried sick about how I was going to maintain the lifestyle. Thanks for giving me hope! BTW, just read the book. Really great stuff. Only downside is, I spend so much time on your sight, It was all familiar info. I think you did a great job of getting that message to the uninformed masses, which in turn broadens the market. Keep it up!


  13. Stephen Aegis
    November 18, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Could the US cheese be because of processing additives/non-grassfed instead of dairy. Or A1 vs A2?

    • Robb Wolf
      November 18, 2010 at 3:08 pm

      Something along those lines. Not sure. I do not get acne from goat dairy.

  14. Timo
    November 19, 2010 at 1:52 am

    Anybody has a recipe for such a pizza dough? I already tried variations with almond flour I found on the net and so far those pizzas tasted like failed almond cookies. Very disappointing.

  15. Greg
    November 19, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Robb- When you suspect you get a gluten dose does it give you the wonderful run to the bathroom sensation right after the meal or the next day?

    • Robb Wolf
      November 19, 2010 at 9:17 am

      anywhere from 10-50 min later. And depending upon the dose, I may be REALLY tired and lethargic for a few days. It sux.

  16. Josh L
    November 19, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Robb, thank you for this! I am also married to an Italian woman and one of her first questions to me after going Paleo and again after finding out that I’m gluten sensitive was, “So, if we go to Italy, you won’t eat any pizza or pasta?” I think you just saved my marriage. ;)

    Keep up the good work!

    • Robb Wolf
      November 19, 2010 at 3:05 pm

      that’s good, I don’t think one exists a marriage to an Italian woman unscathed!

  17. Cathy
    November 21, 2010 at 10:39 am,0,3150677.story This article talks about calcium and autoimmune. I know you aren’t a big calcium fan but could you explain how this works with inflammation.

  18. Matthew McVickar
    November 27, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    I’ve been avoiding the gluten-free alternatives ever since I started testing out paleo, since most of them are still made with grains or starches — aren’t rice and potatoes to be avoided on the paleo diet?

  19. Scott
    February 13, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Hi Robb,

    My family is going to Italy (Rome/Florence/Venice) in May, and my wife and two sons are Celiac. We were wondering about cross contamination in Italy because they get cross contaminated in California at “gluten free” spots all the time. But your video gives us hope! Great to hear! Did you name the restaurant you were at? Would love to know the name of it, and any others you might recommend.



  20. Quinn
    June 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Right now I am sitting in our apt. About two blocks away from the restaurant that you visited. All I can say is thank you thank you thank you! You saved me! We arrived here yesterday and I was getting depressed because all of my family was eating everything at different restaurants and I was left eating icky salads. But no more. This place is absolutely the best pizza I have ever had in my entire life. The crust was chewy and perfect, the toppings were even more perfect and the location of the place as a whole was even better. I will be back again and again in happy spirits. Again, you saved me!

  21. Krista
    June 19, 2013 at 9:45 am

    So glad I found this post – traveling to Italy with family later this summer and was a little worried because they’re all non-paleo and looking forward to pasta (and pasta is what you think of when you think Italy), but the more I’m reading the more it sounds like Italy is definitely paleo-friendly. Love the road forager series by the way! :)

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