Allergy-Friendly Study Abroad Guide: Florence, Italy

Brooke studied abroad in Florence, Italy while managing peanut and tree nut allergies. She is currently a senior at Vanderbilt University, where she’s majoring in Human and Organizational Development. You can find her on Spokin @brookeblumberg and on Instagram @brookeblumberg.

Planning + Tips | Getting There | Favorite Eats | Places Visited | Attractions

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Where did you study abroad and what made you choose that location?

I studied in Florence, Italy. I picked Florence because Italian food is my favorite of all time. I also wanted to live in a smaller city that could feel like home.

Had you been out of the country before and did you speak the local language?

Yes, I have been out of the country before and I don’t speak the local language.

Did you plan anything ahead of time?

I brought allergy cards with me but honestly, I didn’t use them very often.

What are your best tips for studying abroad with food allergies?

Bring allergy cards with you. Be prepared to explain what a food allergy is and how severe it can be because allergies in Europe are way less common so many people don’t know what they are or don’t really understand how they work. Most restaurants are very accommodating if you ask for what you need.

Did you have any concerns about traveling with food allergies?

Yes! I was very worried about the language barrier, but many people working in restaurants spoke enough English to understand my allergies. If they didn’t, I knew how to communicate in Italian (or if I was traveling, in whatever local language) about my food allergies.

What airline did you fly? How did you handle accommodations and airplane food?

I flew Delta. I think I had a vegetarian pasta dish on the plane. I brought all of my own snacks.

Where did you live and how were meals handled?

I stayed in an apartment. I bought groceries for breakfast and lunch, and ate at restaurants for most dinners.

What were your 3 favorite places to eat in Florence?

La Giostra: A Florence can’t-miss! It’s become really popular with tourists so they are pretty informed about allergies—more so than more local places. Burrata and pear ravioli were 2 favorites!

Parione: Food was amazing. Waiters spoke great English and were very helpful with allergy accommodations. The basement is a wine cellar so be sure to check that out, too.

Osteria Santo Spirito: One of my Florence favorites! They let you get half portions of different dishes so you can try lots of different ones. Like most of Italy, there aren’t designated allergy prep areas, but they were very understanding and proactive.


Is there any food your study abroad location is known for that you were able to have safely?

Lots and lots of pasta! It is all made fresh in Italy. It was so delicious and is safe! I also got to have gelato—most of the gelato places had tree nuts, but no peanuts. My favorite places to get gelato were Strega and Gelateria Dei Neri, but I was extra careful with ordering and asking for clean scoopers, new containers, etc.

What other places did you visit during your trip?

I got to visit Rome, Venice, Madrid, the Amalfi Coast, Santorini, Mykonos, Dublin, Lisbon, London, Interlacken, and Paris. Some highlights of those trips were Skala in Greece, where I had traditional Greek food and Aux Merveilleux de Fred in Paris. Their sugar bread is prepared separately from the nut pastries!

Besides the food, were there any fun experiences or favorite things you did?

In Florence I got to do a winery tour, visit so many museums, climb to the top of the Duomo for incredible view, walk over the Ponte Vecchio, walk through the leather market, and go to Piazzale Michelangelo for sunset.

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