We travelled to Limone a small village in Lake Garda, Italy in September and it was hands down the most beautiful place we have ever visited. We stayed at The Hotel Splendid Palace which has the most amazing views of the lake, mountains and Limone. We spent a lot time on our balcony looking out and watching the boats go back and forth from other areas of the lake such as Malcesine and Riva – it was probably the most relaxing holiday we’ve ever been on! With a view like this, if we had spent the week on the balcony it would not have been wasted.
Before our trip we were a little worried about what we would be able to eat in Italy which would be vegan friendly. I had done a little research to see if I could find any blog posts on this subject but I only came across one or two. I knew that when I returned I needed to share my experience and tips to help other vegans who plan to visit Italy. We were half board at the hotel which meant that our breakfast and evening meal was included. I contacted Thomson Lakes before the trip to ask if they could cater for dietary requirements and they said the hotel would be happy to do so. The hotel were great and made sure we had soya milk on our table each morning for cereal and coffee and on a night there was always something we could have. We usually mix and matched the side dishes such as potatoes, cous cous, salad and vegetables to create a kind of Buddha Bowl if you like. The hotel even made us vegan desserts on 3 on the nights, one of which was a selection of energy balls!
We ate out at various different restaurants in Limone, Malcesine, Riva and Verona for lunch and sometimes evening meal if we wanted a change from the hotel. We were surprised at how many dishes were already vegan friendly, without being labelled as such. On most menus at the top of the pizza section there is the option of a pizza without cheese but this often came without any toppings so we chose a pizza with lots of veggie toppings and asked for ‘no formaggio’. There is quite a few vegan spaghetti options and my favourite was the Peperoncino which was simply spaghetti with chilli oil, garlic and parsley. I loved it that much I recreated it when I got home! There was also the option of Arrabiata in some restaurants which is also delicious. The menus are very detailed in terms of stating what is included in each dish. It will clearly state if there is cheese in something and if you order pasta they bring out a separate pot of Parmesan on the side, so they don’t just presume you will want it or add it on for you. One thing to point out is that the Italians are not shy with the olive oil and all of the pasta dishes are practically swimming in it so if you are not overly fond of olive oil a pizza without cheese would be your best option. Bruschetta is another great option because it is totally deliciously, fresh and light which makes it perfect for lunch. One of the restaurants we walked past actually had an advertised vegan option on their specials menu so we knew we had to come back and try it. We came back the following night and ordered the vegan dish which was a mezze of polenta, tofu, vegan ‘beef’ burger, millet and aubergine. It was lovely to have something different and you could tell how much thought and effort had went it to creating this option for the menu. It wasn’t cheap at €16.50 each but if you are to create a niché meal such as this with non-mainstream Italian ingredients I suppose this price is justifiable.
– One thing to be careful of is the cocktails. I noticed that the Strawberry Daiquiri was made using strawberry ice cream and because we don’t include this ingredient in our cocktails in the UK you wouldn’t expect it.
– A lot of the shops sell dark chocolate and crisps so if you are fancying some home comforts they have got your back.
– The pasta is usually dried so it does not contain egg but be careful as some of the pasta is fresh but it should specify this on the menu.
– Contact the hotel or holiday company before your trip to let them know your dietary requirements. Liaise with the rep directly if possible.
– Verona airport has a burger restaurant which has a veggie burger option (minus the pesto and you have yourself a pre-flight vegan delight).
I hope I managed to cover everything food wise in this blog post but if you have any questions please let me know as I would be happy to help – I know how hard it is to find info on this subject on the Internet! Now excuse me while I go and make myself some lunch…