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10 Facts About Italian Gelato That You Ought To Know

Italian Gelato, Frozen Dessert | Tour Italy Now

On a hot summer day in Italy, nothing tastes quite as divine as a cold, sweet scoop of gelato. As one of the Italian food inventions that are loved all over the world, gelato actually has a history as diverse as the colors and flavors that it comes in. Here are just ten facts about gelato that you ought to know!

  • The word “gelato” means “frozen” or “to freeze” in Italian.

  • A gelato vendor is known as a “gelatai”.

  • Gelato is made from fruit, sugar, and milk, and traditionally hails from Northern Italy. When you remove the milk and use water instead, you end up with a sorbetto which is a southern product.

  • Gelato isn’t actually frozen as we normally know it, and compared to normal ice cream which is stored at 0 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit, is actually required to be kept at a slightly warmer temperature of 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Gelato is a very healthy dessert, because while most normal ice cream has anywhere from 10% to 17% milk fat in it, gelato only contains between 3% to 8% milk fat.

  • Italian Gelato| Tour Italy NowGelato is denser than ice cream due to its lower air content that comes from the churning process. As a result, a scoop of gelato generally weighs more than a scoop of ice cream. Lesser air also means that the gelato melts in your mouth faster, which results in that creamier and more vibrant taste.

  • Gelato traces its roots all the way back to 1565, and its invention is attributed to a Florentine, Bernardo Buontalenti. It is said that he presented his refrigerating method and recipe to Catherine de’ Medici, who then brought it all to France when she became Queen Consort as the wife of King Henry II.

  • The first ice cream machine was created by a Sicilian fisherman named Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli in 1686, who was also the first to sell gelato in public.

  • Procopio was summoned to Paris in the same year he started selling gelato, and he opened a café that served gelato, called “Café Procope”. The establishment became one of the most celebrated meeting places among the literary heavyweights in France at the time.

  • Despite being around since the 15th century, gelato only really gained popularity in the 1920s to 1930s when the first gelato cart was created in the city of Varese in Northern Italy.

So the next time that you sit down and cool off with this delicious, healthy treat, just think about how the humble gelato has come such a long way for our enjoyment!

PS. Speaking of summer, want to know more about the best beaches to check out in Italy this season? Just download out FREE eBook on Italy’s hottest beaches and find out! 🙂

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By Priscila Siano (266 Posts)

Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She's a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients.

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