Eating Celiac when I Don’t Speak Italian

Upon flying to Italy, I had no knowledge as to manage my dietary restriction, and that scared me. My dietary restriction is celiac disease. Now, celiac is a genetic autoimmune disease which causes my body to attack itself, making me violently ill, whenever the gluten protein is present. Effectively, this is a gluten allergy sans anaphylaxis.

At bare minimum, everyone at least KNOWS what celiac disease is. The issue is whether or not the restaurant can safely prepare gluten free food. I am lucky enough to not be so sensitive that a shared kitchen affects me, so I can eat at more places than others with celiac. That being said, since the waitstaff and cooks know what celiac is, they assume that I cannot eat at their restaurant. I think that a few of my restaurant choices which have turned me away on account of “non celiaco” (roughly translating to: no celiac friendly options) still had gluten free options, but the language barrier makes it a full ordeal to clarify.

Now, this sounds terrible and bleak, yet it is quite important to note that I have eaten, and I have eaten well many times on this program. When the restaurants can accommodate, the food is miraculous. In the Castelli Romani alone, I have found a celiac friendly pizza restaurant, multiple gluten free bakeries, and a bar (café) which offers gluten free pastries!

I am for sure a foodie, in fact, the first thing I asked the tour guide, Ettore, and the JSB program staff was “Are there any gluten free options nearby?” To my extreme luck, I have an ally in this search: Lydia, the program’s executive director this semester. She is gluten-free as well, and has taught me the best phrases to illustrate my concerns; “Abbiete cibo senza glutine?” (Do you all have gluten free food?), “Hai un menu senza glutine?” (Do you have a gluten free menu?), and “Sono celiaco.” (I have celiac disease.). Between these phrases and the food culture being hyper-cognizant about dietary restrictions, I have been able to dine extravagantly – sometimes it just takes a little searching first.

A delicious gluten free donut from Mama Eat Roma

Ciao, salve, and grazie mille.

-Tavin Schroff

Italian cuisine gone wrong…

Anyone can agree that the study abroad experience is one of the most exciting things that a young adult can participate in. The week before we departed for Italy, I remember conversing with my mom about the schedule for the first week. She asked me “So what is your first field trip and how soon is it?” I responded quickly and enthusiastically with “We get to go to Rome the first week!” I talked her ear off about all of the shopping and monuments we were going to see, building my anticipation for the next twelve weeks. Days pass and we get introduced to the first field trip taking place on Friday of week one, and we are going to Rome! Everyone sets their alarms for daybreak, plans their outfits, and heads to sleep. Now, at this point in the story I ideally would have made it to Rome, accomplished some sightseeing, and shopped a little, but my weekend took a turn. Food poisoning, on the first weekend. Now initially, I had a negative outlook on all of this. Almost in tears, naturally, because everyone is going to go enjoy themselves while the three of us are stuck inside the Chigi Palace feeling extremely sick. It was at this pit moment in my week that the most beautiful snowfall began, and from my bed upstairs looking out on the grounds of the Chigi Palace I realized what that day may have taught me. 

I am still bummed that I did not get to participate in the trip but there was something to take from that situation. I was so anxious, overwhelmed, and excited about the field trip that I never stopped to consider what realities could occur so quickly. When embarking on a study abroad for this long, everyone tends to forget the things that impact you. I was planning trips left and right, ready to see as much of the world as I could, setting these massive expectations for what I was going to do. The point of my story is not to make people scared of eating, or planning trips but to put this experience from my perspective. The reality is that we only have twelve weeks, and it is important to relax and allow yourself to take in every meal, conversation, or sunset you see no matter where you are because you may just be stuck in bed the next day. 

Elena (left) and I (right) were giddy our first time out of the palace after food poisoning!

War Eagle!

Gabriella Pescitelli

Where are the Roman Guards?

You know how “The Declaration of Independence” is protected behind bullet-proof glass, surrounded by armed guards, monitored by one of the top camera systems in the world, and lowered into a vault overnight? Well, today in Ariccia I picked up a 17th century painting laying on a paper towel. Big foot in the mouth moment for me.

In Italy, art and history intertwine everywhere the eye can see! Ranging from the city of Rome to the quaint village of Ariccia, I can’t help but feel like I am constantly walking around in a beautiful museum. As I conclude my first week living abroad, I reflect on how my definition of “old” is so vastly skewed to the place where I live. In America, when I go to a museum and describe something as old, it is most likely from the 20th century (young nation = young artifacts). Meanwhile, our tour guide in Rome pointed to a statue from before the birth of Jesus and declared it was “relatively new.” The Pantheon, Bernini’s Obelisk, and countless other priceless works of art are—by American standards—older than the existence of our country. This week, I found myself in awe of the tremendous number of ancient artifacts Italy preserves and possesses. I must confess that this cultural phenomenon burst my sheltered, American point-of-view bubble. Italy is truly spectacular; it begs no question as to why numerous artists and writers have depicted this area of the world in their works.

Storage room and workspace inside Palazzo Chigi (scene of crime where paper towel/priceless art resides)

Even though I have spent a limited amount of time here thus far, I can already sense a growing appreciation for the natural beauty this nation exudes, just as The Grand Tourists once proclaimed. It is a humbling experience to realize my ancestors may have seen the same sights and wonders that I am now studying. I am so excited for the weeks ahead and all the irreplaceable, expensive, old art I will accidentally leave my mark on.

In His love,

Abby Ivester

Arrivederci Roma!!! 

As of yesterday, I have officially spent a week in Italy on the JSB study abroad program through Auburn University. What a time it has been so far! Even though it has only been a week here we have crammed so many activities into the last couple days, and yet there is still so much more to see. The town we are staying in, Ariccia, is a small town 20 miles south of Rome. Ariccia is filled with colorful buildings that house local residents and it is known for its delicious food. In particular, Ariccia is famous for a savory pork roast called Porchetta. In fact, people all over Italy will travel to Ariccia on the weekends just to get a taste of the mouth watering Porchetta. I can now confidently attest that it lives up to the praise that it receives. As much as I have enjoyed staying in this scenic town surrounded by rolling hills and fertile farms, my favorite experience so far has been visiting Rome. 

To me, Rome has the same lively energy as New York, but instead of being full of skyscrapers, it is decorated with vibrant, glamorous buildings and has a culture rich with art, passion, and love. The moment I stepped onto the cobblestone streets, I stepped into another lifetime. It is almost as if I could see history happening right in front of me and I had to look at everything all at once to keep up with it. Each alleyway has history. Each restaurant has a story. Each monument praises the past. Each person symbolizes where the future is headed. I hope that everyone is able to experience this city at one point in their life because it is a memory that I know will last a lifetime.

My favorite spot in Rome so far has been the Trevi Fountain. The Trevi Fountain is one of the architectural masterpieces of Rome, and was built in 1730 under the reign of Pope Clemens the XII. The fountain is 85 feet tall and 65 feet wide. It pours 2,824,800 cubic feet of clear, blue water a day. The fountain is decorated by a statue of the god Oceanus and he is riding a chariot being pulled by two seahorses. It is a magnificent site to visit and I am so excited to see more of what the city has to offer. 

Here is a photo of me sitting at the Trevi Fountain!!

Arrivederci (goodbye until we meet again) Rome, I don’t think even a thousand tours will uncover the depth of you, but still I will try to peel back the layers one day at a time. 


Emma Rose


Krause, R. (2022, April 8). Trevi fountain- getting to know Italy’s most famous fountain. Travel? Yes Please! Retrieved January 24, 2023, from,opposing%20moods%20of%20the%20sea. 

Mussio, G. (2021, September 30). 9 surprising Trevi Fountain facts: Rome blog. Walks of Italy. Retrieved January 24, 2023, from