Guide to Eating low FODMAP in Florence

May 18, 2018

Welcome to the GMGH guide to eating low FODMAP in Florence! Or should we say, eating FODMAP conscious – there was a lot of gelato consumed by yours truly 😏

I’m going to divide this guide up into two parts — one for things to do, and one for food. Because the food deserves a post all of its own. 😂 I’ll share all the places we ate in Florence this time, as well as some tips for how to eat FODMAP conscious in Italy!

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Let’s get to it!

This trip to Florence was a reunion or sorts (with ourselves and the city) — I studied abroad in Florence in college, and almost exactly 5 years ago Marc and I went for a week right after we graduated. Florence holds a sizable piece of my heart and while I was super stoked to visit again, I was also pretty worried — this would be my first time in Italy on the low FODMAP diet

Bread in Italy

I put off doing any research on the bread situation until literally the day we left, both because I was busy but also out of fear — I had so many happy memories of eating pizza and freshly baked bread, and I didn’t want to think I couldn’t enjoy that this time (and I highly doubted the Italians – so proud of their bread – would support gluten free bread). However, I needn’t had worried, as it turns out that sourdough bread is super prevalent in Italy! This really shouldn’t have been that surprising — sourdough IS the original method of bread-making (we didn’t always have the ability to create our own yeast), and the Italian culture definitely embraces the slower-paced original way of doing things.

Read about why sourdough is low FODMAP!

This doesn’t mean that ALL bread is sourdough though, so some caution is still needed. Phrases to look for are lievito naturale, which literally means natural yeast (think leaven), or lievito madre. The madre (or sometimes mamma) refers to the “mother” which is the culture of bacteria — literally the sourdough starter. (If you’re curious or confused, this article is helpful.)

Meals in Italy

Meals in Italy are not too different from in the States, but there are a few differences which are important to know about.

Breakfast

Breakfast in Italy is not the hearty American breakfast or brunch we know here. Basically they just eat a pastry and have un caffè (a shot of espresso) and call it good.

Lunch

The siesta culture is still fairly prevalent in Florence, and taking a long lunch — sometimes with several courses, and usually with a glass of wine — is pretty common. But I do think grabbing a pizza or panino (panini is plural, so don’t say that unless you actually want sandwiches) is perfectly acceptable, and is what we usually did. Lunch is still around noon.

Dinner

Dinner, like lunch, is long and leisurely, and eaten late — around 8:30pm. Even when I stayed with a family in college, we always had multiple courses and wine every night. Tipping is also not a thing in Italy, so if you go to a sit-down restaurant the servers basically bring you your food and then leave you alone. This is a nice change of pace, but be prepared that this means YOU have to take the initiative to ask for your check. Which usually means you need to wave at the server and ask for (sometimes shout) il conto, per favore

Where to Eat in Florence

Breakfast

As mentioned above, breakfast isn’t really a thing in Italy. Y’all should know by know that I always bring my granola with me when I travel. I also brought a bag of KIND granola (which is my go-to if I need to buy granola) to make sure I had enough for an entire week. 

We also stocked up the first day on eggs, meat, cheese, bread, and milk at a nearby supermercato. I even found lactose free milk — see the picture for what to look for.

Caffè Mario

We did go here every morning for coffee, and their cappuccinos were out of this world delicious. That being said, coffee is abundant in Florence, and as long as you don’t stop in an obviously touristy piazza (just wander down a side street instead), you’ll get great coffee. Just be prepared to drink espresso drinks instead of drip coffee. 

Lunch

Mercato Centrale

On our last day I realized that we had eaten lunch at the Mercato LITERALLY every day we were in Florence. 😂 The Mercato Centrale is the central market (duh) near San Lorenzo church, and they had added a second floor since the last time we’d been, which was basically a giant food hall, full of tons of options for a quick & inexpensive lunch!

Downstairs is mostly fruit & meat vendors, but there’s a few good places to eat there. I don’t know the name of the place (or if it even has a name), but if you walk in the main doors off Via dell’Ariento / the outdoor market, go down the right hand side almost to the end, it’s the second-to-last restaurant. You just order whatever you want from a counter, but it’s still some of the best pasta we’ve had.

Pank la Bulangeria

Upstairs is a bit overwhelming, but that just means that everything is good! This bakery had giant signs proclaiming solo lievito madre (only sourdough!) which made my heart happy. We had panini there for lunch one day, and even brought some back to eat on the plane.

La Pizzeria Sud

The pizza place in the Mercato was so good that we ate there twice (and the two pizza photos in the beginning of this post are from here). 🤤 IT WAS SO GOOD. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Speaking of pizza, I also found this article about various pizza places around Florence, which lists the type of lievitazione (leaven — remember look for lievito madre or naturale), and even the amount of ore (hours) they let the dough age! It’s in Italian but I think y’all (or Google translate) can figure it out.

Snacks

Dinner is late in Italy, and while tapas aren’t a thing like they are in Spain, there’s definitely a happy hour of sorts that happens around 5pm. Most days we just had cheese, cured meat, and wine from the supermercato in our AirBnb (and pesto! Apparently pesto senza aglio or without garlic is an actual thing in Italy 😍).

Il Bufalo Trippone

A few days we went to this wine shop down the street and got delicious cured meats and 2 euro glasses of wine (can’t beat that!). Italy is the best for having tiny random shops that serve legit delicious food.

I also brought some Stellar Labs protein bars with me, which I kept in my purse at all times, and were life savers. They’re certified FODMAP friendly, and while I was nervous about the high fiber content, I think in Italy particularly it was a good thing. 😅

Dinner

Trattoria Pallottino:

We came here our first night and I got roast chicken and potatoes, which had been cooked at high temps in a wood oven. So good, and a nice alternative to the beef, pork, and bread that consisted of most of our meals. Marc got gnocchi which, while not low FODMAP, were also delicious. 

Caffè Italiano

We came here looking for pizza, on the recommendation of the article I mentioned earlier, as it was one of the only places close by. We wanted meat on our pizza so we ended up getting their special that night, which had nettles in the crust (?! I know. Also, try having someone explain nettles to you in Italian, it’s rough). I didn’t feel great the next morning, so I suspect that crust wasn’t entirely sourdough. 😒 I’d try one of their classic pizzas next time.

Also, if you’re wanting to try bistecca fiorentina, which is a t-bone steak and a Florence specialty, Caffè Italiano had some of the best-looking that we saw all trip (people at a table next to us got one). Just be aware that it’s usually sold in quantities of a kilogram or more — so bring a few hungry friends with you!

Pizzeria Sud

See the lunch section — we also came here for dinner. 😋

L’hamburger di Chianina

Also in the Mercato Centrale. We came here when we needed a break from Italian food (it’ll happen). They had gluten free buns, so Marc and I split a burger and homemade potato chips! 

Il Latini

This was our fancy meal. We weren’t sure if they took reservations (and I didn’t feel up to speaking Italian on the phone to someone), so we showed up right when they opened at 7. We got a table in a fairly empty room, but within minutes it was full! We split a beef filet, which was more than enough for the two of us and quite excellent. I got cantucci for dessert, which is a regional dessert of biscotti and a glass of Vin Santo, a dessert wine made from grapes in the Chianti region. Biscotti are definitely not low FODMAP, but they’re very little (not like the giant ones we see in America), so I indulged in a few. 

CINTO

Our last night we went to this place and had some really good food. We went pretty early, as we had to get up early for our flight the next morning, so we were the only people in here lol. We got pasta, polpete (meatballs), some roasted veggies, and cantucci again for dessert. Marc also had some aged grappa here which was tasty (grappa is an Italian digestivo, after-dinner drink). The first time I had grappa 7 years ago I thought it was disgusting, but now that I’ve trained myself to like whiskey, it was actually pretty good — especially the aged stuff!

Gelato

The most important meal of the day! Obviously gelato is not low FODMAP, but you can get very small servings (get it in una coppa or cup) and I was able to eat it a few times with no issues. Gelato shops are everywhere in Florence, and my only rule is to avoid the touristy piazzas (that’s my rule with everything in Florence, actually). If the gelato is unnaturally bright colors and piled high it’s not going to be good.

A few of the places we visited this time were Gelateria Dei Neri, Vivoli, and Gelateria Santa Trinita. Also good is Grom (a little more touristy but still delicious). 

Stracciatella is my all time favorite flavor – it’s vanilla with chocolate chips, but it’s better than just that. I swear there’s magic in it. Also pro tip: gelato servings ALWAYS can have two flavors, so take advantage! You can always taste a flavor first, just ask posso provare {the flavor you want}, which means can I try {flavor}.

Bars & drinks

Note that since the Italians eat late they go out even later. If you’re interested in partying while other people are, in between 11pm and midnight is the earliest acceptable time to go out. We’re old now and usually went home around then, but even the “chill” bars we went to started filling up around 11.

Ebys

Eby is an old man who looks exactly like Albert Einstein, no joke. Eby’s is a seemingly random Caribbean-themed bar, but don’t let that fool you — the house shots are epic and quite the experience. Get here around 10:30 or 11 and sit outside or upstairs while you wait for the bar to fill up. When it’s pretty loud, go downstairs and order due Eby’s shots. Eby himself will walk you through the process, which involves him (and the rest of the bar if you’re lucky) yelling in Italian!

The Lion’s Fountain

This place is just around the corner from Eby’s and is a funny little pub with American university t-shirts stapled to the ceiling. It’s unsurprisingly full of American tourists, but sometimes you travel with a person who has an affinity for pubs and you end up here (twice). 🤷‍♀️ They do sell half pints of beers (pictured, very exciting) which mostly makes up for the amount of English being spoken. 😜

Coquinarius

If you’re feeling a bit more classy, head to this wine bar near the Duomo. Our class arranged to take private wine-tasting lessons while I was here during college, and I owe Igor the owner all I know about wine! They also have food & small bites, so this could be a good place to come and have snacks or dinner.

Mayday Club

We were determined to find some sort of cocktail scene while we were here, and this place was a great find. They had some really crazy cocktails — I don’t even remember what we got but don’t they look awesome? Also they serve popcorn — automatic win.

We also went to a few of the more touristy restaurants — La Giubbe in Piazza della Repubblica, and Rivoire in Piazza della Signoria — for cocktails. While the prices are definitely stupid expensive, it was nice to hang out on the edge of some of the most famous piazzas and people watch.

And that’s it! After I got my fill on pizza and carbs, I’ll admit I was glad to come home and eat a big salad with some fish in it, ha.

💙💙

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