Life / Travel

Gluten-Free Glisten Girl Goes to Italy


On October 1st, 2015, I embarked on a big adventure. I moved to Solero, Italy to be an au pair for two months!


Not knowing what to expect, I had many thoughts and concerns running through my mind:

Will I like Italy?

Will my host family be nice and welcoming?

Will they like me?

Will I miss my family too much and want to fly back to the US the moment I step off the plane?

But, most of all, WILL I BE ABLE TO EAT THE FOOD?

Thankfully, I LOVE Italy! In fact, if I could convince my whole family and all my friends to move here too, I might never leave.

My host family, or I prefer to say, my Italian Family, is extremely nice and they welcomed me with open arms. I feel like one of their family members even in the short time that I have been here. The boys are sweet. The little one holds my hand, hugs me when I pick him up from school and giggles when I find him during our games of “hide and go seek”. The older boy helps me out as much as possible but also teases me like any normal nine year old boy would. The girls are also sweet and helpful. I tease them about the boys they hang out with. They claim they are “just friends” although, I think I can detect flirting in any language ;). We travel to beautiful places on the weekends and it’s a great time to build our relationship. The extended family is also wonderful! The grandparents and even great-grandparents play a large role in the lives of the children here; yet, another aspect of the Italian culture that I adore.


My adorable host family. Marco and Elena have two girls and two boys. The two older girls are not in this photo because they were away on a ski trip when I took this picture. As you can see, it is very hard to get everyone looking in the same direction all at the same time. It’s okay, I like candid pictures best anyways.


Their dogs are also adorable! I’m in love.

Yes, I miss my family. I miss them so so very much. All I can say is thank God for What’s App! Since I can talk to my friends and family every day, I am completely content here. I am not leaving anytime soon!

And now about the food….

I feel wonderful here. I was extremely concerned that I would not be able to eat anything here or worse, eat the food and be in pain every day. I’m telling you, it’s the complete opposite. My stomach has never felt better. Now, of course, if I could eat corn and dairy, being gluten-free here would be a breeze. Because I am gluten-free and also allergic to corn and intolerant to dairy, it is a little more difficult than simply being gluten-free here. Although, that is the same as it is in America. So, there really isn’t much difference. The reason it’s difficult to avoid corn here when you are gluten-free is because almost all of their gluten-free products contain corn. For the first ten days, I thought I would not be able to find pasta that does not contain corn. I found rice cakes, rice crackers, and rice cereal that is free of corn but not pasta. Then, Papa found a gluten-free speciatly shop. We went their with hopeful hearts and to our delight, we found pasta made of rice and without corn (senza mais)!!! Who knew it would be so difficult? I’m thankful I finally found some pasta I can have because I think Nona was getting tired of fixing me risotto; although I think I could eat it every day of my life!


Breakfast to the Italians is very small. They may have some type of pastry such as brioche and a coffee or “caffe” which is usually just a shot of espresso or a cappuccino. They do not have almond milk here but they do offer soy and rice milk as alternatives to whole milk at most “Caffes”. Most of the time, I order espresso, but occasionally I indulge in a soy cappuccino or “cappuccino di soia”. The coffee here tastes amazing and this California girl is not used to the cold mornings yet, so the coffee warms me up and the soy milk tides me over until lunch. Oh! Also, don’t ask for eggs for breakfast. They think it is very weird to eat eggs in the morning. They usually only eat them at night.

Everyday, I eat lunch at either my host mom’s grandparent’s house (Nona and Nono di Elena) or my host dad’s parent’s house (Mama and Papa di Marco). Nona di Elena is 88 years old but is in wonderful health. She is also an amazing cook. Lunch is always served in courses and in the same order every day. First, we eat a starch such as risotto or pasta, then meat or fish with vegetables, then salad (usually just lettuce that you can dress with olive oil, vinegar and salt), then fruit and nuts in the shell to crack. With the meal you can drink wine or sparkling water and when the meal is over, espresso is offered if desired.
Saffron Risotto made by Mama di Marco. It is so delicious. So far, Saffron risotto is my favorite. They make it for me without olive oil instead of butter and without cheese. Everyone adds parmigiano reggiano to theirs at the table.
It also seems like Italians, in general, seem to eat local foods which makes me incredibly happy. There are little markets and fruit and vegetable stands all over the place. Many people also keep their own gardens.
Also, the best part is that I can enjoy the desserts! It’s fairly easy to find gluten-free and dairy-free sweets here. For gelato, you just have to ask or look for “senza glutine” and “senza latte”.  And it’s true what they say, gelato is the most creamy and delicious type of ice cream I have ever tasted!


Gelato from a Gelateria in Verazze, Italy. I chose dark chocolate and Raspberry because they were “senza glutine” and “senza latte” meaning without glutine and dairy. I asked if it was also vegan and they said yes. Although, I am not completely sure the woman understood my question. 

Granita is a much classier version of a slushy. It is made with only three ingredients: fruit, sugar and ice. No corn syrup here! I ordered the lemon and mixed berry flavors. They were both delicious and refreshing after our nap on the beach in the warm Italian sun.

More to come! Ciao for now! <3

XO, Samantha