Allergy-Friendly Study Abroad Guide: Rome, Italy

Ellie is studying abroad in Rome, Italy while managing a peanut allergy. She is currently a junior at Wake Forest University, where she’s majoring in Finance. You can find her on Spokin @elliegust and on Instagram @ellie.gust.

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

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Where are you studying abroad?

I’m studying in Rome, Italy. I chose this location based on the classes offered for the program with my major, the culture of the city, and the food selection!

Have you been out of the country before and do you speak the local language?

Yes, I had been out of the country before this trip and no, I don’t speak the local language.

Did you plan anything ahead of time?

I mainly focused on learning how to express that I have an allergy in Italian and memorizing the phrase to tell waiters. I also did extensive research on which common Italian foods to avoid because of potential cross contamination.

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

Practice communicating your allergy in every language of the country you plan on visiting! Make sure to tell every waiter about your allergy because you never know about hidden ingredients! Also make sure the people you’re traveling with know about your allergies and are willing to avoid certain foods if needed.

Did you have any concerns about traveling with food allergies?

I had many concerns about studying abroad with food allergies! I was mostly nervous about restaurants not understanding my allergy because of the language barrier and not being accommodating. I was also nervous about buying groceries and not understanding what the ingredients were and how to read the allergens on the list. To overcome this, I learned the phrases in Italian to tell people I have a peanut allergy and learned how to read the most common allergens on labels in Italian. I also read some of the Spokin guides about traveling with an allergy!

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

I flew United, but did not eat the plane food. It was an overnight flight, so I had dinner in the airport before takeoff at a place I knew was safe. I did bring snacks for the way, MadeGood granola bars! I love these and they are extremely allergy-friendly.

Where are you living and how are meals handled?

I am living in an apartment with 5 other girls. When we first arrived, I expressed to them how serious my peanut allergy was and asked if they could not use peanuts or peanut butter in the apartment. They have all been incredibly great about this and I have felt safe cooking in our kitchen because of this!

What are your 3 favorite places to eat in Rome?

Mama Eat Lab: Very good food! I was told that everything here is peanut-free! They do have some pistachios and other tree nuts on the menu, but everything is labeled on the English menu. So far I’ve had the Margherita pizza, the pizza with salami (basically pepperoni), and the carbonara pasta. All of it was incredible and safe! They also understood English well.

Ago e Lillo Bistrot: Chicken at this restaurant is to DIE FOR! All allergens are labeled very well on the menu, and there’s nothing with peanuts! Just a few items have tree nuts. They do have a large pastry section that has a lot of peanuts and tree nuts, so I avoided that, but was completely safe with the chicken and veggies I ordered. The staff is very nice. I have been back a few more times to this place and also ordered the pasta Amatriciana, which was incredible. Great place, I felt totally safe! They also understood English well.

Le Galline: Amazing place for lunch! Best place I’ve been so far here. All allergens are listed clearly on the menu and nothing contained peanuts! I told my waitress, who clearly understood me and assured me that I would be fine but that she would tell the chef regardless. I’ve had the bruschetta, ham and cheese crepes, and ragu gnocchi. All were delicious and totally safe! They do have breakfast pastries, which I assume have some nuts, but I have not seen those yet so cannot comment on them. Incredible environment, too, and they understood English well.

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

The pizza and carbonara at Mama Eat Lab are INCREDIBLE! It is a dedicated gluten-free restaurant that is also peanut-free!

What other places have you visited so far?

I visited Florence, Amsterdam, Venice, Frascati, Tivoli, Budapest, Paris, Tuscany, Barcelona, Dublin, and Lake Bracciano. Isabelle’s Restaurant in Dublin was my favorite brunch I’ve had this entire trip. Billy Brunch in Barcelona was the most allergy-friendly place I went and had great food. Pancakes Amsterdam was great because they had no peanuts on the menu at all. Dinner in Budapest at Pörc & Prézli Étterem was also great and very well labeled for allergens.

Besides the food, are there any fun experiences or favorite things you’ve done so far?

In Florence, I visited the Uffizi Gallery, Academia Gallery, Piazza Piti, and Ponte Vecchio. In Tivoli, I visited Hadrian’s Villa. In Amsterdam, I visited the Heineken Experience (so cool and one of my favorite experiences abroad), Rijksmuseum, and did a Canal Tour. In Venice, I’ve done a canal boat tour, mask making (during Carneval), and visited St. Mark’s Cathedral. In Budapest, I did an unlimited Prosecco boat tour and visited the Ruins Bars, The Parliament Building, and the Ferris Wheel. In Paris, I saw The Louvre, did an antique car tour, and did a lot of sightseeing. In Barcelona, I visited the Gaudí architecture, Picasso Museum, Tapas, and Sagrada Familia. In Dublin, I visited the Dublin Castle, Book of Kells at Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Guinness Factory, and Temple Bar. In Lake Bracciano, I visited a castle.

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