As a long-time vegan, I know what it’s like to plan a holiday on the basis of where you can eat.

You’re wondering if you’ll be stuck with chips and salad for a week, pondering whether it wouldn’t be easier just to bring your own food from home…I have also often received questions from guests who for instance were worried they might not be able to find anything for a coeliac diet.

“Is it better if I bring my own food? “Am I going to find what I need in the local grocery store?” “Are restaurants going to be able to cater for me?”

I hear you, and my answer is: you’ll be fine. And more importantly, the rule of thumb is: ask. Always ask. Communication is key when living on Tremiti. For instance I felt I would be breakfast-deprived at the bar with no vegan croissants for me, because there was no notice saying there were vegan ones available – until someone said “Oh, you’re vegan? when I go to the bar I always have the vegan croissant instead of the butter one!”. Silly me for not asking sooner!

If you’re planning on self-catering, there may not be a massive variety for specific dietary needs (and prices may be a bit higher than on the mainland, because you need to factor in transport), but the food shops have items for most necessities. Stocks will be wider and more varied in high season of course, but when the season is low just ask in the shop, and you never know what they might have in store off the shelf, or what suggestion they might point you to.

If you’re looking for a place to eat, don’t just assume by looking at the menu. Walk into the restaurant, and ask if they can accommodate your requirements. The fact that there are no options fit for your needs right there on the page doesn’t mean the kitchen won’t be able or willing to cook up something from scratch, or use ingredients you haven’t spotted in the list. Also, chances are they will be able to find highly satisfactory solutions for you if you notify them in advance.

Since I moved here I have also made the most of online shops which will deliver to the island. Courier trips are few and far-between during the winter, but every few months I do a big shop-up and with a bit of patience (and with no goods which need refrigeration in the order) they reach me, and I have food for ages.

The soil is very generous here, and apart from enjoying the surplus fruit and vegetables produced by some of the locals I have also learned to pick, cook, and preserve all sorts of wild vegetables – asparagus, capers, bietola, wild chicory, wild fennel, mushrooms, wild garlic, rocket, portulaca, and so many others – so subsistence can be very cheap, as you can integrate whatever you’re cooking with food picked in the wild. So risotto with asparagus, or pasta with mushrooms, bruschetta with capers, salad with portulaca and rocket, are just some of the easy options for a frugal yet hearty meal. There’s nothing like eating the produce you have picked yourself when wandering in the pinewoods!

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