The most important part of travelling as a vegan, as all fellow vegans know, is finding yummy food to sustain your journey and also bring much joy and happiness. With a growing number of specialist outlets as well as vegan options appearing on standard menus, it can still be a little tricky navigating new countries and towns that are still to catch up with the ‘revolution’ 😉
In Italy it proved difficult at times, not just because of what was on offer, but also for what I fancied eating. It would be easy to survive onÂ the classic spaghetti al pomodoro, which is served pretty much everywhere, providing you go without the usual addition of parmesan sprinkled on top, but stuffing up on breads and pasta isn’t for everyone. Especially the health-conscious amongst us. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative or walk a little bit further to find somewhere that serves good food or are open to making some alterations to their menu for you. And in Italy I did find that most were at least aware of veganisim and happy to accommodate. However, I didn’t venture far off the HappyCow beaten track… sometimes when you’ve been walking for miles around a city all day the last thing you want to do is meander your way around back lanes for even more miles when you’re hungry for something tasty!
Good news is (very good news in fact) Italy has become even more vegan-friendly since my visit last September. New vegan places are popping up everywhere and there are more vegan options on the standard menus as well. Good work Italy!
So here are my top picks from my travels through Italy:
TrattoriaÂ Enzo & Peiro (see their website)Â
A cute little tavern on the road I was staying on, which was very convenient. A friendly place where the waitresses was very au fait with veganism and very happy to go through the menu to help choose something that suits the vegan diet. Thankfully she also had great English skills! The food was very fresh, well made comforting home-cooked style food and was the perfect end to a day of walking around the city. A yummy soup followed by a delicious tart washed down with a fantastic glass of red wine. Superb!
Veg & Veg (see details on HappyCow)
Based on the first floor within the bustling food market,Â Mercato Centrale, this corner counter serves a wonderful selection of burgers and salads (select your own), juices etc. I opted for the delicious arzillo burger and wasn’t disappointed, although the patty was a bit squishy and the spices came from the mayo rather than the burger itself. Bun was toasted, very nice, and portions are very good. Salad options seemed a bit pricey to me as I didn’t want to just choose 3 items 😀
Brac – Liberia di contemporanea
Situated down a narrow quiet street, near the river and Ponte Vecchio, is this little haven for foodies, artists and readers. The cute backyard between the bar area and the restaurant is nice to sit in for a beer but I dined in the bar area and got chatting to a handful of others from America and South India who had very interesting stories to share and made the dining experience relaxed and open. Owner is very knowledgable about vegan food and I felt a bit spoilt for choice! Went with a potato and bean salad in the end – huge portions, hearty and wholesome food.
Bio & Chocolate (see details and reviews on Happy Cow)
Unfortunately I didn’t come across this place until my last day. There is so much yummy stuff going on here, definitely must go if you’re in town! I only had a few little snacks but it was tasty and had I known about it earlier (was on Happy Cow but didn’t seem like it offered proper meals, just drinks and chocolates – which isn’t the case) I would have worked my way through much more of their offerings. Staff and owner very friendly and knowledgable, open to new suggestions.
Whilst there are gelaterias everywhere, this is a chain throughout Italy offering fruity flavoured dairy-free gelato and sorbets. I sampled their fig and peach which was delicious and enjoyed sat in the sunshine-filled Piazza del Campo.
And, if you have access to a kitchen during your stay, you’d do well to pop up to Conad supermarket where they have lots of healthy alternatives at reasonable prices, as well as a large selection of dairy-free goodies in the chiller! I bought some nice bread (check the labels) ‘mozzarella’, black olives, fresh basil and some gnocchi (again, check the labels) which turned into a couple of tasty gnocchi dishes as well as sandwiches for my onward journey to Rome. Perfect!
Again, I was fortunate to have access to another kitchen so I made up a few things at the hostel, but there were a few options out and about. Unfortunately they are spread out across this large city and some had strange opening hours or were closed for some reason or another, but the ones I found and experienced were pretty good.
Écru – vegan and raw. Pure deliciousness!
Rifugio Romano – a laid back restaurant, almost gastro-style, but with an extensive vegan menu. And I mean EXTENSIVE! Was spoilt for choice. I had arancini for starters followed by a risotto dish…that didn’t look or photograph too good I will admit, but tasted very nice indeed.
Life in Naples would not be complete without a tasty pizza, it is the birthplace of pizza after all! And if there is only one place you must have on your Must Go To list it has to be the original, L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele.
Featured in the film Eat Pray Love, it has always been a local’s favourite but is now also a bit of a tourist attraction. Expect to wait a good hour standing outside before seats become available and your number is called. The time waiting can be pretty funny though with all the cars trying to squeeze through the crowds and incessant beeping from scooters. But the wait is totally worth it and the ‘Marinara’ is the choice for vegans as it comes without cheese.
Set back a narrow side street with outdoor seating these guys will help you choose some tasty vegan versions of local cuisine. I also tried my first non-alcoholic beer here and was pretty impressed! A very satisfying meal with loads of bread, a brisk walk home helped digest the hearty food.
Shanti Art Musik Bar
I ventured here on my last day to chill out for a few hours before heading back to Rome to catch my flight to India. Had passed by the night before, when I ended up in Tandem instead as this place was just SO happening and very busy. What I loved about it was the Indian theme – how very apt for my last cafe before my flight to Delhi! The vibe was chilled (in the daytime), with cosy cushions, brightly painted wooden furniture and a great menu I wished I’d had more time (and money) to try more delicious dishes, juices and smoothies.
Coming soon…. FOOD IN INDIA!