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Italy in early July 2013 - which is the coolest area? (temp!)

Italy in early July 2013 - which is the coolest area? (temp!)

Jul 26th, 2012, 07:25 AM
  #1  
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Italy in early July 2013 - which is the coolest area? (temp!)

We have the first two weeks of July 2013 cleared for a holiday. I am a coeliac and also have fairly rubbish knees, also due to a nerve condition I can't fly for more than a few hours or tolerate very hot temperatures (fun and games!). On the other hand, my husband and two daughters (10 and 16) are fine so want a reasonably normal trip!

I'd heard that Italy was a coeliac heaven, and have always wanted to go.....BUT I know July is pretty hot there.

Is there any part of Italy likely to be cooler at this time? Or is it just not going to happen?!

I've done a lot of research on France for coeliacs and it sounds like a lot of work and language skills are required. I just don't want a holiday that involves that much fuss around my food!!! My poor family.... ;-)

Any suggestions much appreciated. I'm going internet-blind on this one....

Thanks.
JoshuaTheCoeliac is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 07:40 AM
  #2  
 
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Forgive my lack of knowledge but basically you are looking for gluten free? What is you re-action to Lactose? I was thinking that maybe Croatia might have a better diet (though with a fair amount of milk).

Generally you need to be more to the north and higher up so that leaves maybe Bolzano or Trento. The first might be 29C and Trento 25C. So maybe this is the place, fly into Venice and take a bus or rental car.

You are also near Switzerland and Slovenia. Lake Bled might be a nice place at 24C (just over a saddle back from Italy) and some pretty hotels, lots of cake and cafes and some of the prettiest views. Travel can be via Austria or Italy or straight into the capital.
bilboburgler is online now  
Jul 26th, 2012, 07:46 AM
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You have probably already found this guy
http://www.coeliac.ie/webboards/viewtopic.php?p=4992
bilboburgler is online now  
Jul 26th, 2012, 07:54 AM
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We did a trip in Greece with a friend who must eat a gluten-free diet. She had printed cards, from the Internet, that explained her condition in Greek. When we went into a restaurant, she'd give the card to the waiter, who would take it to the kitchen and discuss the options with the cook. We also did some cooking at the villa we rented. Our friend got through the trip with no problems.

I would have thought Italy a hard place for you to travel, between the pasta and the pizza. But there are lots of salads and vegetables.
Mimar is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 11:26 AM
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A very good friend of mine has a pretty severe gluten allergy. I'm used to cooking for and eating for her, and I actually think it'd be as easy, or even easier, for you to eat in Italy as in the UK. That's especially true in northern Italy, where I saw more naturally gluten-free starches like rice and polenta, compared to what felt like more emphasis on pasta in Rome. (Though there's still plenty of pasta, if that's what the rest of your family wants!) For example, for our last meal in Milan, I had risotto Milanese, then roast beef with roasted potatoes. (I eat plenty of veggies at home. ) Gelato for dessert and there you go. Every sit-down restaurant I remember in the north had plenty of GF options like simply prepared meats/seafood, cheeses, GF starches, and grilled vegetables on the menu. There's always pasta and pizza, but I don't remember a restaurant that *only* had pasta and pizza. It might cost you more, because you can't just get a piece of pizza for lunch, but it's definitely doable.

As you know, of course, there could be hidden ingredients in there that might have gluten, or things cooked in oils or pans that previously had gluten, so I'd look for the cards Mimar mentioned to have with you. Everyone we encountered in the service/tourist industry, save one shopkeeper on Burano, spoke great English, though it would be nice to learn some of the basic Italian words you need just in case.

Honestly, your knees might be more of an issue. If you need to be cool, obviously you want to stick to the north. Milan, Venice and/or the lakes or Dolomites would be a great trip, but with some difficulties. The land in Venice is fairly flat, but there are lots of steps on the bridges. At Lake Como, there are some hills to deal with (for example, getting from the Varenna train station down to the ferry, or going anywhere in Bellagio other than the lakefront). So you'd have to do some research on accessible hotels and restaurants.
jent103 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 11:36 AM
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Joshua,

As someone who is sensitive to gluten (though not celiac disease), and the friend of a fellow Italy-traveler with celiac disease, I can tell you that Italy is actually an excellent choice for those on a gluten-free diet. While that may seem counter-intuitive, given Italy's abundance of pasta and pizza, Italy actually seems to have a higher awareness of the disease (maybe BECAUSE of all the pasta and pizza), and seems to go out of its way to reach out to celiacs by promoting and providing gluten-free alternatives in restaurants and food markets--at least what I saw firsthand in Rome two years ago, and my friend experienced in Tuscan towns last fall (I haven't been to Florence for 16 years, and have not been to Venice yet). I feel that Italy makes more of an effort than here in the United States--which is considerable. And since Venice and some other northern Italian areas specialize in risotto and other rice dishes, which celiacs can eat, I think that makes Venice an especially excellent choice, from a food standpoint.

Also, as for considering other countries, such as Croatia, etc--I don't know that they would necessarily be a lot better. They may not have the same level of awareness and accommodation for celiacs--I don't know. And while they may not have nearly as much pasta or pizza, gluten, as you know, is found in anything made from wheat, barley or rye--so that includes bread, beer, cakes, cookies, croissants, biscuits, dumplings, pastries, crackers, pretzels, any sauces thickened with flour, anything breaded with flour, etc. That being the case, I'd rather be in a place that is very aware of the issue and makes a concerted effort to offer alternatives. So if you have your heart set on Italy, I encourage you to go!
RMMR2 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 11:42 AM
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(small correction: I'm used to eating WITH my friend, not eating FOR her... she's not that high-maintenance )
jent103 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2012, 11:44 AM
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. . . correction for me too--I should have said that I am sensitive to gluten but I do not HAVE celiac disease (instead of saying I'm sensitive gluten but not celiac disease!)
RMMR2 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2012, 12:45 AM
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It seems that in Italy all children are tested for this, due to the pasta diet I guess, hence the good amount of knowledge.

Be careful about the Po valley, it can get very hot, I've been in Verona with a Texan who complained. You do need to get into the hills a bit.

Many Italian cities have escalators and elevators.
bilboburgler is online now  
Jul 27th, 2012, 03:37 AM
  #10  
 
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Nowadays many restaurants/hotels cater for coeliacs, you see them mentioning it specifically on their websites that they cater for this diet.

If you prefer cooler weather, I would suggest visiting northern Italy, maybe in Bolzano and the Dolomites. Another alternative might be around the Lake Maggiore, where your kids would love the water sports around the lake and the ferry rides to various lakeside towns and villages (check out Luino/Maccagno area, and the cable car up the Swiss mountains.
Anna_Galea is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 12:41 AM
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Thanks for all your replies - some really helpful stuff!!

Ive been a coeliac for a few years, so Im very aware of the cross-contamination issues etc. Ive also done a lot of reading on Italy, and I know how aware and pro-active they are about the gluten thing, including testing all their children...shame we aren't so hot on it here in the UK!

Im happy that it seems there might be a few places in the north that we could go to at that time of year that won't be too hot - I had looked at the Lake Garda/Lake Iseo areas, but read some travel reviews saying they got well over 30*C by July, so had thought it might not be possible to go to Italy at all.

I know the knees will be a problem, but TBH they will be a problem anywhere! I can do stairs and things, just not that fast and not that far. The plan is to be somewhere picturesque (no problems there then...) so that if I'm having a bad day my husband can take the children out and I can sit somewhere coolish and look at the view. It's more important that they all have a great time than there be lots of flat areas and 'assistance' for me.

Lake Maggiore sounds good with all the things to do for everyone, and I'll look up Trento and Bolzano as well as Lake Bled and the Dolomites...

Any further suggstions very welcome thanks! Especially if you can recommend a particular hotel or guest house in a cooler area of northern Italy in the potential furnace of early July...

Many many thanks.
JoshuaTheCoeliac is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 05:01 AM
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Close to mountaineous regions is the best bet that it would be the coolest. I can understand that you want your kids to enjoy the holiday. Maybe it would be a bit cooler if you find a hotel on the lakefront on one of the Italian lakes, on the north would be better as it would be cooler.

If you base yourself on the Lake Garda, your kids might go for a cable car trip up a mountain (I can't remember the exact name of the mountain, but in 2005 we had driven northwards on the eastern banks of Lake Garda and took a cable car up the mountain. The scenary was breath-taking. Also on the southern end of the lake there is Gardaland Theme Park (the biggest amusement park in Italy) and very close the Waterpark and Movie Park. You might be interested to go to the website and check them out. I am sure however, that the weather would be hot in July in southern Lake Garda near these parks. You might even manage a day trip to Trento and even Verona (if you can withstand the heat for a day).

On lake Garda check out these hotels that cater for coeliacs:

Hotel La Paul in Sirmione (good reviews on average)
Hotel Gallo in Tignale (really excellent reviews)

If you are interested in any particular area, I would be more than willing to do some research for you regarding accommodation that cater for coeliacs.

I should imagine that on the north of Lake Maggiore near the Swiss/French/Italian Alps the weather would also be much cooler in July. As I already mentioned, the kids might do some water sports on the lake, take lovely walks on the lakefront with the stunning scenary maybe doing bikerides, take ferry rides and make visits to the lovely towns all around the lake - there are ferry stops in many of them, take cable car rides up mountains, take a train ride on the famous little blue Vigezzina train which is a little train that does scenic rides near waterfalls etc, travelling from the town of Locarno on the Lake Maggiore through the area called the hundred valleys to Domodossola (I have never been on this train ride, but visited Lake Maggiore a long time ago in the ninetees on our way to Switzerland) but lately I did some research as this area is on our list - I am sure that other Fodorites who have lately been on Lake Maggiore would be more than willing to give their suggestion if you decide on this area for a holiday.

I would suggest that you do some research on what area you and your family are most interested in visiting, and then many of us will be more than willing to research for you on accomodation, places of interest etc. I am sure we will find something to suit your needs.
Anna_Galea is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 07:35 AM
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Thank you so much!! Never expected such a generous response.

JoshuaTheCoeliac is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 08:00 AM
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Anna galea you have a wealth of information. With regard to the train Vigezzina, is it a day trip?

I'm glad I found this thread, as we are going to Puglia in the fall with my daughter and SIL, who have never been to Italy, and daughter is fairly seriously gluten intolerant.

We were thinking seafood and vegetables, but I love mimar's suggestion to take along a card with the diet restrictions printed on them, as it is entirely possible to find no English in southern Italy.

I do pity you both though, having to miss out on pizza in Italy!
sundriedpachino is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 08:56 AM
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Apparently, fom everything I've read, Italy is VERY proactive on the coeliac front, and if you give a restaurant a day's warning, they will nearly always be able to offer you a choice - and pizza, pasta etc all freshly made and gluten-free.... Just need to book ahead and warn them. Obviously there will be exceptions, and areas where it's more difficult - but compared to the uk it sounds amazing!
JoshuaTheCoeliac is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 09:17 AM
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Thanks Joshua, I am definitely going to look at online menus of some of the restaurants which have been recommended, and see what I can find. Daughter will be thrilled. I don't want her first trip to Italy to be marred by sickness!
sundriedpachino is offline  
Jul 28th, 2012, 01:44 PM
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Well I've done a lot more reading about northern Italy!

I like the look and sound of Lake Maggiore, the lakeside location really appeals for both me, my husband and our children. I think we could all enjoy it - which is the plan! Love the idea of being able to cross the border into Switzerland on a boat.

I'd love some recommendations of which town to base ourselves in, especially if anyone can recommend some accommodation that might cater for my gluten-free diet.... I'd also be interested to hear of any self-catering houses etc you might know of? Although I suspect a hotel will be easier to organise.

Also day-trips, activities, things to avoid etc, whether the girls can swim (!) and that kind of thing would be fantastic.

Thank you again.
JoshuaTheCoeliac is offline  
Jul 29th, 2012, 10:09 AM
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sundriedpachino and JoshuaTheCoeliac - first of all thanks for the compliments!! Yes, you can certainly do the train ride in one day. When researching I also found out that there is also a combination called "Lago Maggiore Express", which is a travel combination that covers in just one day the whole of Lake Maggiore from Stresa to Locarno by boat and then from Locarno in Switzerland visit the Vigezzo Valley and Centovalli on the little blue train. Of course you can take the ferry to do this from various lakeside towns and villages like Luino. It certainly would be a very interesting and unique's day outing. Can't wait to do it myself one day.

Stresa on Lake Maggiore seems to be a good town as a base. It seems to be very accessible to surrounding lakeside towns and villages, having a very good ferry service. This would apply even more if you are using public transport and not hiring a car and driving around.

Also, there seems to be several hotels and restaurants that cater for coeliacs, even a pizzeria. So you will have the option of dining in the hotel or in a restaurant in the town. I researched some hotels for you in Stresa area that offer coeliacs menus:

La Palma Hotel
Grand Hotel Bristol
Grand Hotel Iles des Baromees

Restaurants:

Il Pesciolino Rosso

Restaurant and Pizzeria La Rampolina - makes dough for celiacs

Restaurant Settimo Cielo - is located in Campino a little village above Stres, check if it is adequately accessible in your case

Naturally, advise restaurants/hotels about your special diet when booking so that they would be informed beforehand.

Maybe you might even decide to rent an apartment or book in a residence hotel and during your holiday have lunch and dinners in any of the restaurants and hotels above.

Here are some places that you and the kids might enjoy near the Lake Maggiore:

Swiss Miniatur - which has more than 120 models replresenting the houses, castles, cathedrals and other buildings of Switzerland. On the way to the Swiss Miniatur there is the Alprose Swiss Chocolate factory.

Falcony in Locarno - where you get to see birds of prey in flight as well as Spanish Horeseback riding

Pombia Zoo Safari Park - It also has a small amusement park. It is located near Novara, not far from the Lake Maggiore

Maccagno - a lakeside village close and very accessible by ferryboat from Stresa but check till what time ferries operate in the afternoons/evenings. There is also close by the Maccagno Modern Art Museum close to the lakefront. It is one of the best places for swimming, water skiing, sailing and winsurfing. You can renta motorboat, pedalos and canoes from Funwater in Maccagno Inferiore (Superiore is above on the hill) waterfront. There is also a rope wall climbing area which your kids might enjoy.

A visit to the Isole Borromee with their splendid Italian gardens and fine villas - these islands are very close to Stresa and very accessible by a short ferry ride.

From Stresa you can take the cable car ride up to Alpino - Mottarono, from where you can enjoy a 360 degrees view of the whole area

Villa Taranto gardens close to Stresa

Santa Katerina del Sasso - a beautiful monastry close to Laveno

Luino's famous open air market which, if I remember well (please check) takes place every Wednesday. Luino is a small town very close to Maggagno, only a few kms away.

I am sure that you will find even more activites and places of interest if you can fit in more!!!!
Anna_Galea is offline  
Jul 29th, 2012, 12:58 PM
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Wow Anna, that is fantastic!!!!

Sounds really good, and just the kind of thing I was hoping for. Thanks all over again....

I'll do some more reading myself, but that certainly sounds the place for us.

JoshuaTheCoeliac is offline  
Jul 29th, 2012, 01:10 PM
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What sort of accommodation would people advise? Hotel, guesthouse or self-catering?

JoshuaTheCoeliac is offline  

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