Rome (Gluten free)

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Rome, Italy – not the first place you look to go to if you’re unable to eat gluten! When my friends decided they were going to Rome and invited me along, I jumped at the chance. Everything was booked and then I realised that eating in Italy might be in a bit of a problem. Having never visited Italy before I was desperate to go and sample the culinary delights that Rome had to offer. All I can say is, thank goodness for the Internet!

I researched gluten free rome and came across some really great websites and blog posts:

http://www.eatingitalyfoodtours.com/blog/gluten-free-rome/

http://selectitaly.com/blog/rome/gluten-free-restaurants-in-rome/

http://www.zestbakery.com/blog/eating-gluten-free-rome-italy

I printed lists of restaurants from the above blogs/websites and prepared my friends for the daily hunt.

Our first day consisted of miles of walking and enabled us to take in sights such as Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and the Vittorio Emmanuele Monument. Our wandering had enabled us to stumble upon a vegan gelato bar, CamBio Vita. The lemon gelato was amazing and I wish I could have taken it home with me! Also trying to avoid lactose and dairy where possible meant that a vegan gelato bar was perfect!  Dinner that night took us to Trastevere and Mama!Eat where the entire menu is available gluten free. There could not have been more choice!!!
image (Photo courtesy of one of my travelling companions)

Day 2 of Rome sightseeing took us to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Palatine. We went back to Trastevere for dinner that night via the Basilica de Santa Maria. We ate at Ristorante dai Sandri di Trastevere. They took gluten free so seriously at this restaurant that I was given a different colour knife and fork to everyone else and the waiter was insistent that neither of my travelling companions use their cutlery any where near my food. Here I sampled both gluten free pasta and pizza. The Pizza was without a doubt the best gluten free pizza I have eaten and I don’t think it will be beaten.
image (Photo courtesy of one of my travelling companions)

Day 3 took in the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica. We knew that we had a day of walking ahead of us so decided to stop for lunch at La Soffitta Renovatio. Again, the entire menu was available gluten free. I could not leave Italy without eating gnocchi and this was my opportunity and my god was it good!!! At La Soffitta Renovatio, a little flag is placed into your food if it is a gluten free option. Things like this can only help to reassure you that they are taking it seriously. After hours and hours of walking, we needed to find somewhere for dinner which is where my trusted printouts were vital. We walked, despite being beyond knackered, in order to spend our last night in Rome eating in a less run of the mill restaurant, Casa Bleve. My printout had led us their only to find a notice on the door saying they were closed for summer holidays.

‘Not to worry’ I thought, despite wondering how much further my legs could carry me, ‘there’s another restaurant on my list that is close by’. We dragged ourselves to Quinzi e Gabrieli only to find that they were also closed for summer holidays. We decided to walk back on ourselves and stop at the first restaurant we found and that I would just have to spend my last night having a salad or something equally as average but gluten free. We found a restaurant nearby called Pummarola & Drink and so we all decided upon our dishes and I asked if the escalope was gluten free at which point the waiter, who had been very attentive, said that they could give me any of the pasta dishes as gluten free dishes. Thankfully I was able to spend my last meal in Rome delving into a huge (the biggest portion we had had) plate of spaghetti and eating at a restaurant with wonderful service.

I was so thankful to the individuals that posted their gluten free Rome experiences online for me to use as a guide, the Italians for being nothing but accommodating and my stomach for allowing me to spend my long weekend in Rome without any problems!!

I loved Rome, the people, the historic feel, the enthusiastic language, the beauty, the architecture, the glamorous outfits of the Italian ladies and without a doubt the gluten free food! I could never taste that it was gluten free and enjoyed every single mouthful. Now I just need to go back to experience the Trevi fountain, minus the scaffolding, and of course to experience culinary delights at Casa Bleve!!

UK travel

IMG_0123(Photo taken by me in London June 2015 during a tour with photography tours at night London)

Often the UK is overlooked as somewhere to travel. London of course is the exception to this. In the past few years I have begun to explore the UK more with trips in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. I very much love the sun and Scotland and Ireland were a little too rainy and cloudy for my liking but have beautiful views and landscapes with much more to be discovered.

York has recently been a great surprise and delight for me. I went with no specific expectations and left feeling like I discovered a lovely city steeped in history and boutique shops and restaurants. York was busy yet I never really felt rushed or claustrophobic, the people there but almost unnoticed. The charm for me was the boutique restaurants and shops each offering something slightly different. The York Roast company was a welcome sight to get my roast dinner fix and very much reminded me of Oink in Edinburgh – I can’t believe London and other cities haven’t caught onto this type of restaurant yet!! My highlight of the trip was seeing the beauty that is York Minster and the York Chocolate Story which was a couple of hours extremely well spent. I can’t recommend the Chocolate story enough for all ages.IMG_0282 (Snapshot from York Chocolate Story museum – I don’t want to give away too much of the tour!)

It just shows that although it is great to travel the world, it is equally as important to discover the (not so hidden) treasures a few hours train ride away.

Air Miles

Isla ZapatillaNo travel blog for savvy travellers could be complete without a section on AirMiles.

I’m constantly looking online for ways to earn more air miles and the credit card or loyalty schemes which will reward me for my membership and spending with the most air miles. Afterall, who doesn’t want to travel the world for less?

This past year, i have had the American Express Preferred Gold Reward card with me at all times, constantly asking ‘Do you take Amex?’ at every shop or restaurant I have frequented. With 20,000 air miles for spending 3000GBP in the first few months and two miles per pound spent on petrol and in supermarkets and thanks to the 9000 miles reward for referring a friend (thank you to my friends for listening to my constant sales pitch), I have flown to Europe a few times thanks to my Amex.

The Amex Gold card has enabled me to put miles into both my British Airways Executive Club and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club accounts. When only paying taxes for trips to Europe and the US, it definitely makes being Credit Card savvy worthwhile.

I am now looking at which card to move to next when my Amex Gold expires and am weighing up my options between the British Airways Amex Premium credit card or the Virgin Atlantic Black credit card. Regardless of which credit card I choose (a post will appear on here nearer to the time I am sure), it is always worth investing in a credit card which gives you travel rewards for money which you would already be spending in the first place!