Lifestyle | Health & Wellness

Traveling with IBS: Sicily is A Low FODMAP Dream Destination

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Following the low FODMAP diet and traveling to Sicily? We have your travel guide. Our international travel correspondent Angi Ruoss of the Intolerant Wanderer has done it again! Read all about how she took Sicily by storm – all while adhering to the low FODMAP diet.

Sicily For FODMAPers

No joke! I’ve been travelling quite a lot on a low FODMAP diet, but so far nothing else came close to what Sicily has to offer. Not even FODMAP’s homeland Australia.

First of all, wherever you look, you’ll see gluten-free stickers. They’re pasted on the restaurant’s windows and/or it’s clearly marked on the menu.

Now I know that gluten-free isn’t essential for a low FODMAP diet – unless you’re coeliac of course. I’m not. But I’m very sensitive to fructans such as wheat. Also to onion and garlic, but I’ll come back to that later.

Angi in Sicily
Angi eating a gluten-free Ice Cream in Brioche, otherwise known as Gelato con Brioche.

Gluten-Free Done Right

Let’s keep talking about gluten-free for a bit. Though it’s something that becomes more widely available all over the world, Central Europe (apart from big cities like London or Paris) seems still quite far behind. Especially in Switzerland, where I live, it’s difficult to find good alternatives to wheat flour.

In that perspective, Sicily was a total game changer for me. Pizza tasted like “real” pizza, pasta tasted like “real” pasta: Gluten-Free Heaven!

meal in Sicily. Whole GF pizza on a plate with glass of red wine

Let’s Talk Garlic & Onion In Sicily

But as I said before, low FODMAP is not only about gluten or wheat. For me, for example onion & garlic play a big role too. Therefore, “just” gluten-free won’t do it for me.

You May Want To Read: The Low FODMAP Diet is Not A Gluten-Free Diet

As you may know yourself, this can make eating out pretty difficult. And to be honest, I was scared about that before I went to Sicily. I assumed Italians make most of their recipes with garlic. And they certainly do.

But luckily they also cook fresh. Which means that, when I asked for a meal to be made without onion & garlic, it was usually no problem at all.

I was positively surprised, as I know how tricky it can be elsewhere. This made me realise: life could be so simple… if only restaurants would prepare food on demand regularly.

Until that happens, I’ll just go on about how amazing Sicily is.

So far I’ve only been talking about eating – as per usual for me. Food always plays an important part, whether I’m at home or travelling. But the Italian island of Sicily has so much more to offer. Let me tell you a bit more about my trip:

Around The Island in 12 Days

Palermo – Cefalù – Patti – Castiglione di Sicilia – Catania – Syrakus – Avola – Modica – Ragusa –Agrigent – Porto Empedocle – Sciacca – Menfi – Porto Palo – Trapani – Palermo
I’ve created a Google Map with all the restaurants, bakeries etc. that I found during my research.

(Editor’s Note: Folks, click on the Google Map that Angi has created to see all the places she visited, along with contact info to help you plan your trip).

Sicily

This was our route. We had a rental car – a cute little Fiat 500 – and drove clockwise round the island. From tall volcanic mountains to shallow beaches, Sicily has it all.

And I absolutely loved the ancient towns with their narrow streets. Just sitting somewhere, on a piazza, enjoying the sun while sipping espresso, eating “gelato” or a combination of both.

street scene Sicily

Wow, that brought me back to food and drinks quickly.

Even though we spent our days mostly as described above, there were way too many places for 12 days. Looks like I’ll have to go back soon to visit some more.

Or maybe you want to plan a trip to Sicily now, after reading about how great it is. If you do, please help me update my list – I’d love to hear your highlights.

Sicily Recommendations

Anyway, here are some things I recommend you try when you’re in Sicily:

Cannoli

A Sicilian speciality made of a fried dough roll that is traditionally filled with ricotta cheese. So good! Not really low FODMAP, but still worth trying a piece. Often you’ll be able to find ones with gluten-free dough, go for those. And make sure you keep the rest of the day low FODMAP. (Editor’s Note: 2 Australian tablespoons of ricotta are low FODMAP, so plan accordingly, to your tolerance).

cannoli Sicily style. Cannoli held in woman's hand above bare legs
Gluten-free cannoli is a wonderful treat in Sicily.
Gelato con Brioche

Ice cream in a brioche bun. Do I need to say more? Or are you already looking for flights? Same as with the cannoli, best choose a gluten-free brioche with lactose-free or dairy-free ice cream (but be aware of other high FODMAP ingredients).

Granita

Similar to ice cream but at the same time, totally different. Sicilians eat it with a brioche bun for breakfast or use it as a refreshment anytime during the day. The most common flavour is lemon. Tip: try it in the evening with some vodka. Yum. PS: We have a recipe for low FODMAP lemon granita for you, if you want to try making it at home).

Arancina

Deep fried stuffed rice balls. They come in many variations, with different sizes and fillings. I learned that often the cheesy ones are made without onion and garlic. But be sure to double check that the filling is FODMAP-friendly.

Panelle

They’re croquettes made with chickpea flour. Usually without onion and garlic. It’s a typical Palermo Street Food that is actually quite simple, but tastes very good. To be enjoyed in small quantities only (because of the chickpeas). (Editor’s Note: chickpeas contain GOS, so tread carefully if you are sensitive; chickpea flour has not been lab tested for FODMAPs).

Fritto Misto

An Italian classic that basically means mixed deep-fried food. We found an all gluten-free place in Modica that offered fried seafood but also fried veggies such as zucchini and panelle. Most of the things were okay for a Low FODMAP diet.

Besides that, you can fill your stomach with pasta and pizza. I literally never ate so many pizzas in my entire life – it was just too delicious to pass up.

Award Winning Gluten-Free Pizza!

And if you wonder, which one won “Best Gluten-Free Pizza”: Ristorante Sirenetta in Porto Palo. I wouldn’t have been able to tell it apart from the “normal” one.

Mmmh… simply thinking about this pizza makes me want to return to Sicily. NOW. Who’s coming with me?

I hope this article totally made you wanting to travel to Sicily too. If you do and you’re interested in more recommendations, feel free to message me anytime. Either on my Instagram @theintolerantwanderer or you can post your questions right here in the comments below.

Now, how a Sicilian would say: Salve – goodbye!

♡ Angi

 

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