How do you find the best gelato in Italy? Come with us and see!.
The writings of Pliny the Elder from over 2,000 years ago talk about a sweet dessert made from snow collected from the mountains, brought to Rome and mixed with crushed fruit for a sweet, cold dessert…
The name gelato is derived from the Italian word, gelare, which means to freeze. In Italy an ice cream shop is known as a gelateria.
While the two words gelato and ice cream are sometimes used interchangeably they are not quite the same thing.
Italian gelato is denser with less air incorporated into it and it has a lower fat content. Gelato is also served at a higher temperature than ice cream.
Italians take their gelato pretty seriously. There is even a Gelato University in the town of Anzola dell’Emilia, near Bologna where you can take courses on how to make gelato.
Gelato is the perfect anytime snack to take a break with on a hot summer day. You can even start your day with some gelato. Follow the Sicilian tradition and order a freshly baked brioche filled with your favorite gelato flavors for breakfast!
Get the Good Stuff
There are 37,000 artisanal gelato makers throughout Italy. That means there are gelaterias on just about every corner, but it is worth your while to seek out truly artisanal places to avoid synthetic ingredients, stabilizers and sweeteners. A good test is the Pistachio flavor. If it is bright green and in a large, swirly pile move on. Look for a pale green-ish shade in submerged metal containers for a much more delicious frozen treat. Signs to look out for are Produzione propria or Produzione artigianale – this means that the gelato was made on site or hand-made
The Price is Right
There was a recent scandal in Rome, with a gelateria charging over $80 for 4 take-out cones! Even in the most heavily visited tourist sites, a cone or a cup at the bar or for take out should be no more than €6 to €8 for the largest size. Remember that prices may double if you are sitting down. Prices must be posted clearly for you to see. If you are unsure, ask.
Even the smallest size cone or cup you order affords you the choice of at least two different flavors. There are the classic combinations like Stracciatella (chocolate chip) and hazelnut and lemon and strawberry, but there are many new flavors popping up all the time, like salted caramel and ginger. We recommend trying as many as you can.
Here are some of Tour Italy Now’s favorite spots for the best gelato in Italy’s greatest cities
Bar Alberto Pica
The slightly grouchy Alberto Pica has been making gelato in this old school bar near Largo Argentina since the days when his shop was one of the few places in Rome with the refrigeration to be able to store and sell milk. Riso is a creamy and crunchy frozen rice pudding like gelato you are unlikely to find elsewhere. The coffee flavor is a rich pick-me-up and the sweet, delicate rose flavor is made with flowers from the owner’s own garden. via Della Seggiola, 12
Gelateria Gracchi is the perfect stop after a Vatican tour. Come here for crispy sugar cones and all organic flavors like dark chocolate with star anise and pine nut and cream. via dei Gracchi 272
Carapina is a little bit off the beaten path, but it is worth the detour. The gelato is made fresh daily and they serve only seasonal flavors. Piazza G. Oberdan 2r
Vivoli is probably the most famous gelateria in Florence. The gelato is only served in cups at this luxe spot, so as not to interfere with the flavors. Via dell’Isole delle Stinche 7r
La Boutique del Gelato This popular spot usually has a line. Most Venetians agree that this is the best gelato in town, making it worth the wait. Salizzada San Lio, Castello 5727
Gelateria Nico Serving gelato since 1935, along a scenic canal, the speciality here is the Gianduiotto, a slab of chocolate/hazelnut gelato with plenty of whipped cream. Fondamenta Zattere 922
Gelateria della Scimmia This historic spot serves classic flavors made from eggs, cream and sugar and local, seasonal fruits. They even have gluten free offerings. Piazza Carità 4
Polo Nord Located near the famous Pizzeria da Michele, this is the oldest continuously operated gelateria in Naples. Via Pietro Colletta 41/43,
Grom is a rapidly expanding franchise from the north of Italy. Carefully selected and seasonal ingredients that change each month keep us coming back to this chain no matter what city we are visiting.
Be on the look-out if you are visiting Rome and Florence soon. There are gelato festivals coming up in Florence from May 17-26 and in Rome from June 21-23.