Allergy-friendly Study Abroad Guide: Florence, Italy

Natalia is studying abroad in Florence, Italy while managing peanut and tree nut allergies. She is currently a junior at The University of Michigan, where she’s majoring in Organizational Studies. You can find her on Spokin @nataliagarcia.

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Tell us about you!

Where are you studying abroad?

Florence, Italy

How did you choose your study abroad location?

My big studied abroad here and absolutely loved it. I’ve also always loved Florence and Italy ever since visiting one summer in high school and knew I wanted to come back!

Had you been out of the country before studying abroad and do you speak the local language?

Yes I had been out of the country, but no, I did not speak the local language.

Did you have any concerns about traveling with food allergies?

Yes, I was definitely worried about eating out with a language barrier. However, I clearly explained my allergies to every restaurant and always triple-checked my food. I also learned how to say my allergies in Italian.

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

Learn how to say your allergens in Italian. Most menus also have allergens listed on them, which is really helpful!

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

I flew KLM. I didn’t eat the food on the plane but I brought a turkey sandwich with me from JFK airport!

Where did you live and how were meals handled?

I stayed in an apartment and bought my own food at a grocery store and went to restaurants.

What are your favorite places to eat in Florence?

Osteria delle Tre Panche: The menu shows all the allergens in each dish and they were very good with allergies. I’ve gotten the lemon chicken, spicy rigatoni, and the spinach. All of the food is absolutely amazing.
Acqua al 2: The menu is in only Italian but the staff is very helpful with allergies. For nut allergies, they say you can only eat the pasta on the first page, not the fresh pasta. I’ve gotten the balsamic steak, pasta with vodka sauce, burrata, and Greek salad.
La Giostra: I’ve gotten the burrata boat, balsamic steak, penne sorrentina, and the pear ravioli. It is all amazing and the restaurant is very good with allergies. The burrata comes with nuts on the side but they were able to easily serve without them.
Melaleuca: This is my favorite breakfast/brunch place. They have amazing coffee and I always get the eggs and toast.
Vespe Cafe: They are very good with allergies and always super helpful. Not many nuts on the menu at all. I love the wrap with eggs there.

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

All the restaurants have been very good with allergies when ordering pasta dishes.

What other places did you visit during your trip?

I traveled to Interlaken, Brussels, Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid, Mallorca, London, Paris, Prague, Copenhagen. In Paris, my favorite spots were Gigi and LouLou; in Prague, my favorite was Nase Maso; in Brussels my favorite spot was Le Chou, in Cantania my favorite was Al Viccolo Pizza & Vino, and in Madrid, my favorites were Bakan and Aarde.

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

Walking along the river, Academia and Uffizi museum, markets, soccer games, and shopping!
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