Archive for June, 2014

Eating Your Way Through Italy Gluten-Free

Posted on June 30th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Pizza, pasta, focaccia—Italy is famous for its delicious food and carb-heavy meals.  However, to a traveler with a gluten intolerance, the thought of being surrounded by tantalizing wheat products can be nightmarish.  Luckily, Italian cuisine is imaginative and quick to evolve with the times—in fact, their awareness of Celiac disease has predated that of most other countries, and they even have a National Celiac Association that funds study and promotion of Celiac awareness throughout the country.  To say the words, “Senza glutine,” at a restaurant is a request that people are genuinely concerned about, and they will do their utmost to accommodate you.  Thanks to this, there is a surprising array of foods suitable for the celiac diet, so that you’ll be able to indulge in Italy’s diverse culinary scene without having to live off of salads for your entire stay.


1. Gluten-free products.  To simply ask for your pasta or pizza gluten-free at a restaurant will result in the kitchen fixing you up a plate of fettuccini or gnocchi made from corn or rice flour without question—and they are likely to be some of the best dishes you’ve ever eaten.  Celiac disease is such a pressing issue in Italy that people with gluten intolerances even receive a €100 monthly allowance from the government health system to buy gluten-free foodstuffs, which are often sold in pharmacies.

capresse salad - Eating Your Way Through Italy Gluten-Free2. Caprese salad.  If you don’t want to make a fuss, there are plenty of staple Italian dishes that don’t involve meat of any sort.  An old favorite of these is the antipasto Caprese salad, a delectably simple dish of sliced buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, and leaves of fresh basil—a guaranteed pleaser even for non-celiacs!

3. Gelato.  Another necessity for anyone traveling to Italy to taste, gelato is a frozen confection made primarily with milk and eggs, and thus unoffending to even gluten-sensitive palates.  In addition to this, any gelato shop you order from will make a point to scoop your gelato from a separate container to avoid contamination from crumbs that may have fallen into the regular supply.

4. Polenta.  A less stereotypical Italian dish, polenta is a cultural favorite in the region to the northeast of Venice.  A type of cornmeal dish that is either eaten as a porridge, grilled, or fried into a cake, polenta is traditionally eaten with elaborate sides such as mushrooms, tomato salads, and local sausages.

IMG_29375. Risotto.  What many people don’t realize is rice is a common side dish in Italy, and risotto is the most common way of preparing it.  While every region has its own take on the popular dish, it is always prepared the same way: by cooking rice in broth and flavoring it with various meat, fish, and vegetables.  Be sure to try it in different cities so you can compare!

To delve deeper into Italy’s gluten-free food culture, it would help you to know the basics of Italian.  Send us an inquiry for information on getting started, or take a look at our different levels of Italian courses.

A Foreign Student’s Top Italian Phrases

Posted on June 15th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »


Italian is the perfect language for a college student to study: it’s melodious, it comes from a fascinating background of art and poetry, and it has easy grammar rules for the English-speaker to come to terms with.  And, of course, for any young student or admirer of Italian, there is the opportunity of a semester abroad in Italy.  No matter what city you choose, from the dazzling Rome to the romantic Venice to the foodie’s paradise of Naples, it’s sure to be a life-changing experience.  Get started on the right foot by knowing these crucial Italian phrases which will help make your cultural transition that much easier.

1. Ubirra_itlianana birra, per favore.  An important phrase in any language, “One beer, please,” will get you through most social situations until you learn enough Italian to cobble together an actual conversation with someone.

2. Scusate il mio italiano.  Sono uno studente internazionale.  “Pardon my Italian.  I’m an international student.”  Of course, no Italians are going to expect you to speak fluently as a newcomer to their country, and they will very likely be thrilled that you’re studying their language.  Still, this is a good way to explain to them that you’re still a beginner and liable to make mistakes.

3. Qual è il tuo vino preferito?  “Which is your favorite wine?”  It would be a shame to travel all the way to Italy and not learn a thing or two about good wine, so ask around.  Italians are very proud of their history of winemaking, and will be thrilled to tell you how to select wine like a pro.

4. I tuoi occhi sono belli come il mare.  If you plan to have a social life in Italy, you will quickly learn that romance and pretty one-liners are an important part of dating, even among the younger generation.  Start with something simple and straightforward like the above, “Your eyes are beautiful like the sea,” to strike up a conversation.  As you get more confident with your speaking skills, you can move on to more complex lines.  If you need ideas for something charming and insincere to say to an attractive person in a bar, you can always lift quotes from any Fellini movie.

5. Dove è la mia classe?  It happens to us all; we get disoriented in a new environment and start to panic.  Ask anyone on your campus, “Where is my class?” and they will do their best to point you in the right direction.

6. Mi fa cagare!  A slang term that literally means, “It makes me poop!” this is a more colorful way of saying, “That’s awful!” and can be used in any situation, from missing your bus to flunking an exam.

7. Dante è sopravvalutato.  “Dante is overrated.”  On second thought, don’t say this to anyone.  You’ll be thrown out of the country.  However, if you wish to get started with your Italian lessons as soon as possible, send us an inquiry or take a look at our different levels of classes.