Dietary restrictions in Viterbo as told by a vegetarian
By Sammy Browne, USAC Student
Coming to Italy and more specifically a smaller town like Viterbo one of my main concerns was if I would be able to eat out with friends. In Italy, food is a very social part of everyday life and catching up with friends either consists of grabbing a bite to eat or getting a drink. Being a vegetarian my whole life and newly becoming a gluten-free vegan I was nervous about entering the land of carbs and cheese. Being a gluten-free vegan meant I never ate anything with wheat, dairy, eggs, or cheese. Living in California vegan only restaurants are extremely common and in my city there is one on every block, not to mention whole areas of our local stores dedicated to milk substitutions and fancy meals free of anything imaginable. Coming here I told myself I would try to keep my healthy ways.
The first restaurant I went to was La Sosta Del Suffragio and not only did they have crust “Senza Glutine” but they also had the option of a marinara pizza or “Pizza rossa”. The more restaurants I took a look at the more I realized the majority of them have the option of substituting your wheat pasta or gluten free ones and opting out of cheese. For vegans almost every pizza place has the option of a marinara pizza which sometimes was even better than the pizza with cheese. Eventually I realized that what is being in Italy without trying their cheese and so far every restaurant I have tried has at least one vegetarian option usually more. Just say the words, “sono vegetariano” and changes will be made to accommodate you.
Besides eating out, at the grocery stores there is also a good selection of foods for people with gluten allergies, lactose intolerance, or just by choice. The Coop inside the mall has a whole row dedicated to food senza glutine and another section for meat alternatives and not to mention cheese made from soy and almond milk. For vegans, the only thing I would say doesn’t have options is bars/coffee shops. Asking for a cappuccino with soy or almond milk here garners some questioning stares and confusion. Espressos are an easy substitution, they’re made without milk and give the same energy as a cappuccino in one small cup.
One of the apps that has helped is trip advisor, yelp is not as popular here and doesn’t have any if at all reviews for many places however trip advisor is one way I was able to look ahead of time to make sure I could eat at the restaurant. Out of all the Italian cities Viterbo continues to impress me with their multitude of options for anyone and everyone. On lots of menus/signs outside restaurants will advertise their gluten free options and if all else fails, there is always a delicious salad option. Happy eating.