Gluten free getaway to Florence

by Lauren Attwood
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Our diet is not a general worry that most people think about when planning a trip. Most of us will be deciding whether to put one pair of shorts in or two. However a gluten intolerant person will wonder whether to stick one or two loaves of bread in, and maybe a box of crackers. People living with a gluten intolerance, or Coeliac’s Disease, can have a hard time when it comes to travelling abroad. Experiencing new places should include exciting thoughts of different languages, cultures, sites and cuisines. An intolerance to a specific food group can hinder this experience, and so Great Hotels of the World has done the research to make a difference to travellers with a gluten intolerance. No one should have to deal with the short comings of a restricted diet, let alone restrictions to where you’re travelling to.

Italy offers both an amazing cultural experience, as well as an understanding of the “gluten free diet”. The rate of Coeliac’s Disease in Italy is quite high when compared to the rest of Europe, with 1 in 250 people living there with a gluten free lifestyle. The country, along with regions such as Tuscany have adapted to these differing diets well, allowing tourists from around the world to come and have a pleasurable culinary experience regardless of dietary requirements.

If you have always wanted to discover a new and intriguing place, forgetting about mundane food worries, now is the time to book a break and see what a city like Florence has to offer. Florence, “Firenze” in Italian, is the capital city of Tuscany. The architectural heritage of the city is second to none, being the central birthplace of the Renaissance. The population of Florence has tripled from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, with numerous stun-worthy sights attracting many visitors. Subtropical climates make Florence a memorable vacation, especially when paired with the amazing potential for a gluten free holiday as well.

The perfect hotel for a gluten free vacationer in Florence is the Hotel Brunelleschi. The hotel is named after the incredible architect Filippo Brunelleschi, who created works such as the cathedral "Santa Maria del Fiore" which is one of the most famous sites in Florence. It is the fourth largest church in Europe and the cathedral is famously known as "The Duomo" for its domed features. This is just one of several surviving works of Filippo waiting to be discovered. The hotel is a form of art in itself, partly created from a medieval church. This hotel is a short distance from the world famous hotspots, the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiori, the amazing San Lorenzo Church, and the shops of Via Tornabuoni. A museum resides beneath the Hotel Brunelleschi, with ceramics and original Roman baths to explore. The first floor is adorned with 1920's-style stained-glass windows, and the guestrooms all are equipped with courtyard or city views. The rooms are beautifully varied, their own styles adding something extra to your stay in Florence. The “ristorante” within the Hotel Brunelleschi, relevant whether or not you have a specific diet, is the Santa Elisabetta. It provides an authentic and rustic atmosphere combined with the finest dining. It has special menus for both vegetarians and Coeliacs and are more than happy to accommodate for gluten free diners.

Upon your arrival to the hotel, with your bags safely in your room, it is time to take a breath of fresh air to explore what is around you. Florence’s city is encased in medieval walls built in the fourteenth century. Hotel Brunelleschi is in the heart of Florence's “Duomo” neighbourhood, where you will find hotspot attractions such as the San Lorenzo. This church houses the Medici Chapel, the mausoleum of the renowned Medici family. Close by is the Uffizi Gallery, one of the finest art museums in the world. The Uffizi Gallery is located at the corner of Piazza della Signoria, and is full of international as well as Florentine art.

In the Piazza della Signoria, you will find Bartolomeo Ammanati's Fountain of Neptune, a remnant marvel of the sixteenth century. During the 1500's, the statue of Michelangelo's David was originally in this piazza, but later moved elsewhere. Upon your exploration of the city, you will most likely find the Via dei Calzaiuoli, one of most central streets which links Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Signoria. When you are out and about, the most convenient way of grabbing a bite is to find one of the hotspot areas mentioned. You can easily find a range of restaurants, most of which will certainly know what a Coeliac (pron. "chiliaca" in Italian) is. If they don't have some gluten free pasta at hand, the restaurant across the street will!

One last sight which is not to be missed on your holiday is the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), whose most striking feature includes numerous shops built upon its edges, held up by stilts. It is interesting and different, much like the rest of Florence's history. Transport to Florence will be through the Amerigo Vespucci airport, and during your stay you can purchase a "carta agile" allowing multiple trips on the Italian metro, for 10 or 21 rides. The opportunity to travel to Florence and to experience a city so wonderful must be taken. Great Hotels of the World are sure that gluten free travellers will be more than satisfied with the sights and tastes that Florence has to offer. The concept of tolerance within Italy's society of an intolerance such as Coeliac’s disease is greatly appreciated by not only its residents, but also by others who want to visit and take advantage of this exceptional quality.

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