Italy is one of the most popular destinations for travelers in the whole world. It’s on most people’s bucket lists. Once a traveler has had a vacation to Italy invariably their mind starts thinking and dreaming about a way they can spend even more time here whether it’s to study Italian, renovate that rundown Tuscan farmhouse, or even retire.
It’s not surprising Italy is such a popular destination. Italy’s contribution of art, culture and fascinating history to the world is reason enough to visit and want to experience it for oneself. There’s the food and the drink, which is among the most popular in the world, as well as the wide and varied natural landscapes and the unique architecture, the warm and friendly people. Italy is set up for travelers with excellent public transportation and a range of accommodations to suit all styles of travelers and budgets.
But what about vegans? Will they have the same kind of experience as the non-vegans or will they come home having unintentionally lost their ‘veganity’ a dozen times and be unable to look at a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce ever again?
What follows are some recommendations and tips for an unforgettable vegan holiday in Italy!
Vegan Food and Drinks in Italy
Italian food needs no real introduction. Chances are pasta and pizza are eaten almost weekly in your home and we’re sure many of you have perhaps tried to make a vegan version of Tiramisu or ordered Arancini as an appetizer when you go to an Italian vegan restaurant.
The fact is, Italian food is naturally vegan friendly. Italians feature a wide range of fruits and vegetables in their food. Pasta is nearly always vegan. Lentils and beans can be found in many recipes. In addition, when you go to a non-vegan restaurant the names and descriptions of the available menu options effectively describe the ingredients within each dish
Veganism has grown in popularity in recent years. As such, not only do more servers understand what vegan actually means (that is usually half the battle right?) but there are more vegan options available at restaurants with the vegan options clearly marked. There are exponentially more vegan restaurants than there were a decade ago are a plethora of vegan grocery stores around the country as well as fun vegan products in health food stores and regular supermarkets. Nearly every single gelato shop has at least two vegan options (ask or look for items marked ‘senza latte’) and some have many more.
It’s beyond the scope of this article to tell you about all the Italian vegan products and outstanding restaurants that are available in Italy but we would like to tell you about some of our favorite restaurants that we think are unique or special in some way.
Best Restaurants for Vegans Throughout Italy
Below are our top five restaurants for mouth-watering Italian food! From Milan to Tuscany, to the small town of Trequanda, and of course Rome! There are plenty of reasons to plan your upcoming trip to Italy with these in mind. Have a sweet tooth? Or desiring to devour all the pasta Italy has to offer? We touch on both the sweet and savory!
Life Bistrot is a small restaurant located in Volterra, a small town in the heart of Tuscany. the history of Volterra goes all the way back to the Etruscan times (8th century BC). There are incredible Roman amphitheater ruins and beautiful medieval architecture well worth exploring. However, we think that you should plan a visit to this unique restaurant while in town. Not only is it a cute restaurant with a lovely terrace, but the glass floors overlook Etruscan ruins! That’s right. As you dine, look over walls, a well, and the remains of a house from 2600 years ago.
This adorable restaurant is located in a tiny quiet town called Trequanda facing an ancient church. Trequanda is located close to the Crete Senesi a beautiful scenic drive. Once you have had your meal, you will really enjoy wandering this small sleepy town, saying ‘ciao’ to the locals (and all the kitties that wander the town). The food is trattoria-style and has a lot of Italian classics made vegan. Bonus! The owners actually have a second vegan restaurant in this small town called Paradiso Pizzeria Gelateria. Consider getting an Airbnb in this town and you will have all your evening meals and gelato needs met! Trequanda may have the highest concentration of vegan restaurants in Italy!
There are not many countries that have a vegetarian restaurant awarded a Michelin star. Joia is one of them and has kept it since 1996. Not only that, but most of the dishes are vegan and the ones that are not vegan can be made vegan! Joia is a high-end restaurant located in Milan close to the Giardini Indro Montanelli. As expected, the prices are higher but if you want to really experience the wonder of this establishment, consider the tasting menu. The Zenith is 125 euros per person. If you really want to splash out, take the wine pairings as well. The menu changes four times a year so there is always something new to discover.
Gelateria Della Palma (Rome)
This gelateria, just a stone’s throw from The Pantheon has much more than the standard pistachio and chocolate gelato (not that we are complaining about these amazing flavors).
Gelateria Della Palma has more than 150 flavors and about 40 of them are vegan. Even better, they are all grouped together, so you can easily choose flavors that will make up your gelato. They have a vegan waffle cone and you can taste a few flavors before you commit. Pay at the counter before you approach the counter with your ticket and point to your desired flavors.
Rifugio Romano (Rome)
This restaurant is the embodiment of the idyllic Roman trattoria come to life. It has checkered tablecloths, outdoor seating, friendly efficient staff, excellent prices, and an enormous menu. Located close to the train station and within walking distance of many of the city’s sights. It’s not a vegan restaurant, but it has a huge vegan menu and many vegan patrons. How does this sound for a four-course meal? Deep-fried stuffed olives with vegan sausage for your antipasti to share with the table, carbonara spaghetti as a Primi Piatti, homemade smoked seitan served with a rocket salad, cherry tomatoes and vegan cheese finished off with tiramisu. They also have an extensive calzone, pizza, and sides menu.
Once you feast your way through Italy, stay up to date with the best vegan lifestyle tips for travel, recipes and more at Global Vegan Magazine.