You’re pregnant! And going to Italy! Those two things are both totally awesome – congrats!
But what about eating in Italy while pregnant? Or just traveling around in general when you are expecting?
I recently went through the experience of being pregnant in Italy and it was pretty great. Not only did I become the most popular person in my apartment complex, but I was allowed to cut in line at the supermarket and (usually) given a seat on the bus. (Though, one time when I was 7.5 months pregnant, I had to give up my seat to an older woman. That was a long bus ride).
When I emailed my doctor my test results that showed I was pregnant, he replied back with a 128-page book of information that he wrote for patients. A lot of that book? What you can eat in Italy while pregnant.
There are some broad general rules that are widely followed across countries, but experiencing pregnancy in Italy made me realize that there are few absolutes in a pregnancy diet. Some of the rules recommended here are different from in the US, but ultimately it is up to you and your level of comfort (as well as any pesky cravings or food of aversions that might come along with being incinta).
Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy nine months, and a great trip to Italy!
Traveling in Italy while Pregnant:
Being pregnant in Italy is kind of awesome. People love babies so they get excited when you are visibly pregnant. People like to ask how long you have to go and try guess if it is a boy or girl. (Weirdly, when I was pregnant everyone correctly guessed I was having a boy. No one ever assumed G would be a girl).
There are no major considerations that are really specific to Italy that you need to keep in mind if you are traveling here while pregnant. Simply follow recommendations to stay hydrated while flying, and do not be shy asking for help lifting heavy items like your luggage whenever you need to.
If you have any concerns about your health or are worried about the baby- remember that emergency care in Italy is free. If you feel more comfortable, here is a list of English speaking doctors in Rome. When I first found out I was pregnant, my doctor advised me to come back to Rome from Sicily. It is not that there is anything dangerous about Sicily, but rather that I was staying in a fairly remote area away from medical care. Smaller towns might not have major medical facilities, which is just something to keep in mind.
Being pregnant didn’t stop me from flying or taking trains around Italy. But after the 7th month, I traveled with a note from my doctor saying that I was fit to fly. You may also want to invest in a pair of compression socks for the flight (which your doctor will probably recommend, too). I suggest getting a cute or patterned pair because it makes them feel less like a medical thing and more like a comfort accessory.
Eating in Italy while Pregnant:
So what food is safe to eat in Italy while you are pregnant?
Not all cheese in Italy is pasteurized so it is best to check when you are ordering. (Pasteurization is the process of heating foods/liquids to a high temperature to kill any bacteria). In Italian, you can ask if the cheese is “pastorizzato.”
As a general rule, cheese that is aged more than eight weeks is usually safe to eat during pregnancy because there is a low risk of listeria. That means all that Parmigiano Reggiano that is aged for 12/24/36 months is totally good to go. Pecorino, asiago, and provolone are also fine. For soft cheese, ricotta is also ok (it is pasteurized), as are scamorza, caciotta, and robiola (but you can always double check).
Mozzarella was the one thing I found very hard to give up. I specifically asked my doctor if I could eat it because I know it falls into the category of fresh cheese that is usually off-limits during pregnancy. I was told: “better not.” Mozzarella is cooked at a high temperature but not technically high enough to be considered pasteurized. That being said, there are some kinds of mozzarella made with pasteurized milk so you can always ask.
Other cheeses that you should not eat: taleggio, gorgonzola, and fontina.
Salami and Prosciutto
Salami and prosciutto crudo are both cured rather than cooked so they are not recommended during pregnancy, especially if you have tested negative for toxoplasmosis. In Italy, you are tested for toxoplasmosis every month during pregnancy but still told to avoid all of these. I also steered clear of other cured meats if I was not cooking them myself – including guanciale (the pork jowl bacon used in carbonara, gricia, and amatriciana). While we are on the topic of carbonara, that pasta dish is usually not recommended in pregnancy since it contains raw egg in the sauce.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
When I was pregnant and eating out in Italy, waiters would usually ask me if I wanted the “verdure” left off my plate. This really surprised me at first, but the fear here is our old nemesis toxoplasmosis. Make sure that any raw fruits and vegetables have been very well washed, or opt for cooked veggies and fruit that can easily be peeled.
Meats, carpaccio / crudi
When ordering meat, it is perfectly acceptable to request that it be “ben cotto” – well done.
If you see carpaccio on the menu, you might have to skip it while pregnant. Carpaccio is usually thinly sliced raw beef but it can also be used more broadly to refer to other meat or fish that is served raw in paper-thin slices.
Crudi is raw fish, which is sadly not recommended either! Sometimes you will see “gambero rosso” listed on the menu. These are very tasty red shrimp that are almost always served raw, even if this is not specified on the menu. I was very happy to be able to eat these again after I gave birth!
Global recommendations are to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy, but I was told by multiple doctors that I could have half a glass of wine with meals. This depends on your level of comfort. Waiters will likely offer to pour you some even if you are visibly pregnant. Having a little bit of wine while pregnant is socially acceptable in Italy.
Espresso is not more caffeinated than American coffee – merely more concentrated. It is recommended you not exceed more than two coffees a day.
Gelato and other desserts
Gelato is pasteurized if it is made on a modern machine. (It is also almost always already made with pasteurized milk). Some flavors incorporate eggs, so double check if you are unsure or stick to sorbetto (fruit flavors without egg or dairy).
However, it is some of the other desserts you have to watch out for because they contain raw egg yolk. This includes tiramisu. SAD FACE. I always asked the waiters what they had that did not include egg.
With those recommendations in mind – buon appetito!
What to wear in Italy while pregnant
If you are pregnant, being comfortable in your clothes is really what matters most. (I mean, there are so many things about pregnancy that make you uncomfortable, so fashion should not be one of them).
That being said, Italian women do have a certain style while pregnant. La bella figura (making a good impression) still matters, even with a bump. You do not really see pregnant women walking around in their husband’s old shirts or in baggy sweatpants.
That being said, a lot of Italian women tend to wear regular clothes instead of maternity clothes whenever possible. I purchased a few pairs of maternity jeans but was usually able to pick from a limited number of my shirts, sweaters and jackets that would fit over my growing baby belly.
Italian style tends to be fairly put together and you are here to live the dolce vita, so I would really suggest investing in a few cute maternity dresses like this one, or a longer maxi version. It helps take away from the disappointment of no wine and only some Italian cheese when you are dressed cute for dinner.
Here are a few maternity looks that would fit well with overall women’s style in Italy:
Do you have any other tips or questions about traveling and eating in Italy while pregnant? Anything you found to be unexpected or different?
And in case you are planning to stay, here is what it is like to give birth in Italy.
52 thoughts on “Traveling and Eating in Italy while Pregnant”
Thank you for this post. I am going to Italy next week and I’m about 17 weeks pregnant. The plane ride would be around 18 hours and my doctor advised me to take a chewable aspirin the day before, during and after my flight. He also told me to wear medical grade thigh high compression tights so I won’t get blood clots. Everything else I had to learn through your blog so I appreciate all the information you’ve given me.
I’m glad it was helpful! Have a wonderful time on your trip!
Hi! Your information was very helpful. I’ll be 21 weeks along when I travel to Rome in a couple of weeks. I love, love, love gelato! How would you advise asking in a gelato shop if they use pasteurized eggs? I don’t want the staff to find me rude! Thank you!
Hi! It won’t be rude! As I mentioned – as long as the store uses modern gelato machines (and 95% do) then the pasteurization happens as the gelato is made. If you want to be sure, you can ask “è tutto pastorizzato?”
Thanks for this lovely post! My honeymoon destination is Italy, then I will be 15 weeks. Your post i very usefull!
Congratulations, Sandra!! Enjoy your honeymoon and all the happiness!
Please help. I’ve just found out I am pregnant (3weeks) and need to start taking recomended supplements however I’m in Rome and have no idea what or where to buy these? I won’t be back in Australia for over 12 more weeks and I’m so worried that my baby is not going to get the best care and nutrients while I’m here.
Congrats! I took gynefam folic for my entire pregnancy. You can buy it over the counter in any pharmacy (though, if they don’t have it in stock, they will order it for that afternoon or the next morning).
Thank you thank you for this post! Traveling to the Almalfi coast in 2 weeks at 21 weeks. Any certain seasfood/ fish to avoid other than what you mentioned? Were you ever able to find pizza that used pasteurized mozzarella? That’s on my craving list.
Small fish is always the better choice, from what I understand! but no smoked fish.
I was never sure that mozzarella was pasteurized, so I skipped it but I was probably being overly conscious.
Mozzarella on pizza should be okay as long as it’s cooked. Pasteurization is just heating the milk to kill bacteria, so cooking/baking it is pretty much doing the same thing. I’m 27 weeks pregnant in Italy now and you I pity the fool who tries to get between me and my pizza. Enjoy it!
What about salami on pizza? Does the same apply in that if it’s been cooked on the pizza it’s safe to eat?
THANK YOU! Leaving for Italy next week at 12 weeks and was so confused as to what I could eat. Glad to see I can still have some cheeses and meats!
No prosciutto?? Is that raw or cooked?
Prosciutto is not cooked – it is simply aged. That is why it is not recommended in pregnancy – I’m sorry. BUT congrats and enjoy!
Thank you so much for the helpful and clear information! I’m traveling now for work at 6 wks pregnant and your advice has been great! Did you find you could eat most milk and yogurt? I’ve asked several Italians if either are pasturized, but most seem to not know understandably. I’m assumming neither are pasteurized but thought I’d ask.
Hi! Congrats! All milk sold in supermarkets should be pasteurized. I assume that yogurt is too – though you might see yogurt made with “latte crudo” (unpasteurized, raw milk) at some small health food stores.
HI! I am currently 13 weeks but will not be able to take off from work and travel until about 24 weeks! My husband and I are dying to visit Italy but really worried that I will get super duper exhausted from the terrain and the constant walking in the different cities. Any recommendations for not getting as tired or over exhausted? Did you ladies take breaks often or get a hotel/apt near the major attractions so the commute was reasonable?
Hi! I would definitely stay in the center to avoid public transportation as much as possible. I was pretty mobile for most of my pregnancy but you have to be ready to admit when you need to take a break. Sit down at a cafe and get a juice! Luckily, Italy is built for naps. After lunch, some businesses close until 4 pm so take advantage and rest up.
Hi! Is it safe to eat panettone with chocolate while im in my 6th week? Thank you 🙂
Ciao! I don’t see why not- panettone is baked so there are no undercooked ingredient to worry about
Thank you for this! I just found out I am pregnant and will be 21 weeks when I take my planned trip to northern Italy from Texas. This put my mind at ease about the travel and the medical care there! But I’m insanely sad about the mozzarellas and tiramisu. 🙁 Thank you for the info, though, because I never would have thought of that!
Have an amazing time! And eat well 🙂 Even without those two delicious items, there is a lot you can have while you’re pregnant in Italy
Just found out I’m pregnant! We live in Napoli and are super excited! This is going to help me out so much! Would be insterested in any other helpful information you might have! xox!
Congratulations! I also have a post about giving birth in Italy (but give yourself some time before you have to think about that!). Find a doctor that you are comfortable with and enjoy the next 9 months!
I’m in Rome this week and love how walkable it is! Being pregnant and keeping up with daily exercise can be a drag, but not with all the eye candy Rome has to offer. I’ve walked about 9 miles a day! The one issue I have with Rome and being pregnant isn’t the food or traveling, but rather the amount people smoke- it’s pervasive and unavoidable, to say nothing of the car exhaust! ? My best solution so far is to try and stick to less busy side streets abd early morning / late evening strolls
Thank you for all of your recommendations and information. I am sure they will be super helpful on my trip to Italy! Do you happen to have any non-alcoholic drinks (juice, mocktails, etc) that you found especially enjoyable/thirst quenching?
YES! I was obsessed with gazzosa – a sparkling lemon soda. Some people like chinotto (but I am not a fan of the bitterness). I would often tell bartenders I wanted something “analcoholico” and ask for their recommendation on mocktails that weren’t too sweet.
Hi! I am planning to travel to Naples, Pompeii and Amalfi coast at 24 weeks of pregnancy. Do you think this could be a concern given the destinations i have.
also i am a vegetarian, would my diet me very restricted?
I think you will eat very well! Congrats and enjoy!
Do you have any recommended remedies for morning sickness? I’m staying in Rome throughout the duration of my first trimester, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to find vitamin B6 and Unisom (without getting a prescription).
Oh, girl, I feel you! I know that nothing really worked for me. If you can get a prescription, there is a medicine called nuperal that can be prescribed for nausea
I loved your post! Can you recommend what common dishes are high protein and nutrient dense that are easy to order in Italy if you’re Prego? Also I can’t have dairy ;(. Can u assume that salads and fruit are well washed and no toxoplasmosis at restaurants or do you need to avoid that? Thanks!
Ciao Lisa! Look at the secondi (second course/ meat dishes) rather than primi (first course – often pasta). Most places are very aware of allergies and so if you mention dairy, it shouldn’t be an issue. I personally had pretty strong food aversions to raw veggies during pregnancy so I ate mainly cooked veggies (look at the contorni). I did have a waiter confirm if I wanted tomato and lettuce on my well-done burger because I was pregnant. I just asked if they washed it and said that was fine by me.
Hello, my wife is 1.5 month pregnant. In our Italy trip, she had this Di Moroni stuffed with cheese and salami one time.
Do you think it might cause any trouble
Congratulations! The first few months are so nervewracking. I think it should be fine. The risk of toxoplasmosis exists but is very low. Better if the salami filling was cooked/heated, but I wouldn’t worry about it. She can ask her doctor for a simple blood test for toxoplasmosis if you are worried.
Thank you so much for this post! I found out I was pregnant about a week before leaving for Italy. I was not mentally prepared for the salumi and mozzarella limitations 🙁 but your post has helped a lot. I’m still here and check it often to double check about foods. This has been a great resource! One quick question if you are able to answer – it seems prosciutto cotto is ok by Italian standards. Right? And mortadella? I’ve still been avoiding both but have read conflicting info.
I avoid it, unless it is heated well, for the same reason deli meat is not recommended in the US. There is a small risk of listeria.
Hey! Do you know if it’s safe to eat bottarga??? It’s my fave. Something is telling me no but wondering if you came across this while you were there. Thanks!
I never asked about this one because I don’t love it! Italian websites say it is “better to avoid” in pregnancy because of the risk of Salmonella
Thanks for the reply! I really appreciate it 💕
Thank yo for this!!! I booked my trip to Italy before I found out I was pregnant, looking forward to the carbonara, mozz and prosciutto, tiramisu… but now I know I can’t even have them! So sad but will make the best of it. I travel mainly for food though
There are still lots of tasty options and while these are recommended to avoid – it is ultimately up to! I avoid prosciutto and salami for sure for the risk of toxoplasmosis but might fudge a bit on mozzarella from a good place
Thanks so much for this post! I previously lived in Italy for 6 years and in Rome for 2 of those years and while I’m totally comfortable with life in Italy as I go back regularly, I am about to move back to Rome for couple of months with my husband and have just found out I am pregnant with our first and panicking about how little I know about what to eat, I had no idea mozzarella should be avoided! I was tested for toxoplasmosis in January after getting a bit I’ll after a trip to Italy and since they knew I was trying for a baby but it was negative. I was told by the specialist since I lived there for so long it would likely come back that I’d had it at some point but doesn’t seem so. I guess that means I do need to be cautious.
My doctor might be extra cautious (but it technically does not reach the same temp as pasteurized cheese). I have lived here ten years and never had toxo either. Congratulations! Wishing you a joyful and healthy pregnancy.
Hi Natalie, thanks for coming back. I’m actually desperately trying to find an English speaking Dr in Rome for an early pregnancy scan which I’ve been advised to get. Unfortunately as you will know August is a tricky month in Italy. Might you be willing to share the name of the doctor you used? I do speak Italian but with pregnancy stuff I would definitely prefer to cover it in English.
I will be 13 weeks pregnant when I travel to Italy this year! This post was very helpful – as well as all the Q&As! How did you let people know you were pregnant in Italian? Currently 11 weeks, and not showing at all. Don’t think that’ll change much by week 13th. Thank you!
Congrats! You can say “sono in dolce attesa” (which is sort of like saying you are “sweetly” expecting) and “sono incinta” – I am pregnant.
Hi Natalie! I’ve been in Italy for a few days now and have a few more to go. I just reached week 12 of my pregnancy, so I haven’t really been showing too much until today in a more stretchy dress. When entering a museum, I was told not to walk through the metal detectors, but I’ve been doing it daily earlier this week as I visited other museums. I’ve heard metal detectors/security screenings are fine, but are the metal detectors different in Italy than in the US? Is there a chance I could’ve hurt my baby? Thank you!
No no, they are the same! They just don’t require pregnant people to pass through. I truly believe you are fine.
Great post! How did you go for your routine checkups in Italy? Did you have to purchase insurance?
I love your post, Natalie! As an immunosuppressed male facing the risk of getting a food-borne illness that I can’t naturally fight off, I have been looking all over for this information (including on Italian sites) for an upcoming trip to Italy. Though you wrote it with a different target audience, your post is the most useful one I have found, by far! Is there any additional information you could share on this specific topic from the 128-page book? It would be uniquely valuable to so many of us facing similar challenges. Grazie mille!
Hi David! I am glad that it was helpful for your dietary considerations and health condition as well! Italy has good food safety but you may want to steer clear of latte crudo cheese (or crudo anything for that matter), to be safe.