I know the real saying has traditionally been “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but technically speaking-some gelato flavors do contain pieces of fruit… So, I think it’s safe to say that it is more than acceptable to have at least one gelato a day when you are in Florence. After all, it is not nearly as indulgent or overly rich as ice cream in the U.S. tends to be, so you won’t feel as guilty about treating yourself once in a while (or 7 times a week).
Just as you would see coffee shops on every corner of NYC streets, the same holds true for gelato shops in Italy. You really can’t go more than 50 feet without seeing one of these magical places.
But…you have to know the tips and hints for scoping out the gelato shops that are worthy of the locals’ tastes. I know that all gelato looks appealing to our eyes, but if you follow these rules, your taste buds will be very happy also:
- Avoid the ceiling-high piles of gelato: Usually when the gelato is piled as high as the Swiss Alps, you can pretty much guarantee that it is not going to be the freshest. When you think about it, it is not very likely that that shop is going to be able to sell all of that in one day, especially when you constantly see that pile at the same height, at multiple times of the day. The really good places will be scraping the container to get the last licks for their customers who just cannot get enough of it.
- Pay Attention to the Color: The color of your gelato should be a pretty close match to the flavor that it is representing. It just isn’t natural to be eating extremely brightly colored gelato, which means that there are probably artificial flavors in there.
Now that you are officially a gelato connoisseur, it is time to try some of my personal favorites, which I think are some of the best around Florence! :
- Gelateria la Carraia: This place will just never get old. I know I had already mentioned it in one of my earlier blog posts, but I just cannot say enough good things about it. If you want to treat yourself, but don’t want to overdo it, you can get a cone here for only 1 Euro! But, if you enjoy homemade cones, I recommend upgrading to the 2.50 Euro cone, or getting a 1.50 -2 Euro cup. This is definitely a fan-favorite among study-abroad students because you can’t beat the taste of this gelato, with the very reasonable price to go with it. Also, there are two locations within Florence; one is on the Oltrarno, and the other is in Santa Croce. So, no matter where in the city you are staying, you probably won’t have to walk very far to go there. I highly recommend the “torta della nonna” flavor which tastes like cake, as well as “Biscottini,” which has crushed up pieces of chocolate cookies. They have such a wide variety of flavors, including both fruity and savory, so you will be sure to enter into gelato heaven when you go here!
- Gelateria Edoardo: If you are a fan of ice cream cones, this is the place for you! I am not lying when I tell you that you will start to smell the heavenly scent of these freshly made cones wafted from the other side of the Duomo, and it will make you run right over to it. The freshly made cones are served to you while they are still warm and crispy, which adds the perfect complement to your cool and creamy gelato. They have such unique flavors here which I would be sure to try, including cinnamon, red wine, zabaione (fresh eggs and white wine,) and many more! And as if it could not get even better, the place prides themselves on serving biological/organic gelato, which is free of preservatives, GMO’s, additives, and any other substance that is probably not the best for your body. So, there is no excuse not to try it! It is located right within piazza del Duomo, so you can be sure to snap a picture of your gelato in front of the Duomo (it is worth it to feel like a tourist, when you are eating this gelato).
- Gelateria della Passera: I heard about this place from a local Florentine, when I asked what her favorite gelato shop was. She said that Gelateria della Passera is by far the best she has ever had, because you can tell they use all fresh ingredients and make it right in the store that very day. So, I just had to try it out for myself! The owner of this place has gained her creative mindset from attending Gelato University, and has created her flavors from combining unique ingredients and creatively experimenting at any chance that she can get. I highly recommend trying “the Mona Lisa,” which is made with crème, apple sauce, orange blossom, cognac soaked raisins, and walnuts. It sounds like such a wide variety of ingredients all combined into one, but this combination of flavors creates such a great taste! This is a tiny place which really only has enough room for the counter, but the area surrounding it is so cute, so I definitely recommend bringing it to a bench right outside or even just walking around and taking in your surroundings.
- Vivoli: a hidden gem tucked away on a side street in Santa Croce. This place is almost easy to miss because it looks like a restaurant from the outside, and you do not see the word “gelato” plastered all over the window. But, it is definitely worth checking out! I have only been there once so far, and tried the nocciola and caffe’ flavors, which was a really great combination! The flavors mixed so well together, and the consistency and texture was perfect!
- Gelateria dei Neri: Right after you try one of my favorite panino shops (All’Antico Vinaio,) just walk a few more feet down the block, and you will reach another popular gelateria! They have a good mix of classic and unique flavors, so you will be sure to find a flavor of interest to you. If you want to add an extra crunch to your gelato, you can get a mini pizzelle cookie to put on top, for only .15 euros extra!
Other gelaterie that are next in line to try on my bucket list:
- Venchi (very well-known for their chocolate flavors; you can’t miss this place by the sight of their chocolate fountain wall through the window)
- Grom (They have a location in New York now, so you may have seen it! But, their original location is in Italy).
- La Strega Nocciola
- Gelateria Perche No!
I hope I have passed my sweet tooth onto you from reading this post! Now, go out there and enjoy all of the amazing gelato that Florence has to offer.
Until next time,