Traveling and Eating in Italy while Pregnant

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 pretty great. 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.

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 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!

Do you have any other tips or questions about traveling and eating in Italy while pregnant? Anything you found to be unexpected or different?


  • Reply Hoa Nguyen May 17, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    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.

    • Reply Natalie May 19, 2018 at 11:12 am

      I’m glad it was helpful! Have a wonderful time on your trip!

  • Reply Elizabeth June 10, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    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!

    • Reply Natalie June 10, 2018 at 5:42 pm

      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?”

  • Reply Sandra July 29, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Thanks for this lovely post! My honeymoon destination is Italy, then I will be 15 weeks. Your post i very usefull!

    • Reply Natalie August 1, 2018 at 9:33 pm

      Congratulations, Sandra!! Enjoy your honeymoon and all the happiness!

  • Reply Liz August 1, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    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.

    • Reply Natalie August 1, 2018 at 9:29 pm

      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).

  • Reply Darla August 3, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    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.

    • Reply Natalie August 4, 2018 at 10:55 am

      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.

    • Reply Diana August 24, 2018 at 11:26 am

      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!

  • Reply Sarah September 7, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    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?

    • Reply Natalie October 2, 2018 at 3:55 pm

      Prosciutto is not cooked – it is simply aged. That is why it is not recommended in pregnancy – I’m sorry. BUT congrats and enjoy!

  • Reply Martha October 10, 2018 at 10:19 am

    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.

    • Reply Natalie October 10, 2018 at 10:21 am

      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.

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