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Florence, Italy: The Best Gelateria Shops!

Updated on August 29, 2016

Gelato. Mmm...

Intrigue and Betrayal in Renaissance Florence...

100% All - Natural Ingredients, 100% Delicious

Historic Gelateria: Perche No?

Fior di Latte e Menta (Sweet Cream & Mint) from Gelateria della Passera

Notice the tiny pieces of crushed mint blended into the creamy gelato- absolutely divine!!!
Notice the tiny pieces of crushed mint blended into the creamy gelato- absolutely divine!!!

Rainbow of Flavors at Perche No?

All Gelato is Delicious: True or False?

While many people might immediately respond TRUE, the real answer is FALSE. Believe it or not, you can actually have bad gelato in Italy. Certain commercial brands are full of preservatives, artificial colors, and artificial flavorings. Sometimes, gelaterias push their gelato display to the front of the store or even outside during the summer months to attract tourists. Keep in mind that gelato contains milk and some flavors contain eggs, so having the heat of the sun beating down upon the display case may compromise the gelato.

The earliest records of frozen desserts date back to ancient Egypt and ancient Rome. Both of these civilizations favored recipes involving crushed ice or snow mixed with honey and fruits (like a sorbetto). Italy takes the credit for introducing gelato to the world. According to historical legend, the 16th century Florentine Bernardo Buontalenti created a frozen custard made with eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and ice. This delicious concoction delighted Caterina de' Medici and the French court so much that it soon became popular all over Europe.

What is the difference between gelato and ice cream?

Gelato contains between 3-8% milk fat and about 25-30% air. Ice cream, on the other hand, contains between 10-15% milk fat and about 50-60% air. The result? Since fat tends to coat your taste buds, the flavor of gelato is a bit more intense. Less air makes the consistency of gelato more like a creamy custard vs. typical ice cream.

There are many wonderful gelaterias in Florence worth trying. Below is a list of just a few:

1. Perche No? (Why Not?)- Via dei Tavolini. Established in 1939, this gelateria is by far the most popular with the locals. During WWII, in an attempt to life the spirits of the locals, Perche No? bravely kept its doors open while other businesses closed. The gelato is made fresh daily, using no artificial colors or preservatives. They also offer alternatives made with soy for vegans and people with lactose intolerance. The exotic fruit sorbettos like mango and passion fruit or unique gelatos like ginger, lavanda (Lavender), and rose cream make this place a winner.

2. Gelateria della Passera- Piazza della Passera. They produce their own gelato with no artificial colors or flavors. Fior di latte e menta is exceptional (sweet cream infused with mint). There are actually little tidbits of green mint leaves mixed into the gelato.

3. Gelateria dei Neri- Via dei Neri. Family owned and operated. Known for having excellent flavors like chocolate peperoncino (feels hot and cold in your mouth at the same time), salted butter caramel, and pink grapefruit sorbetto.

4. Gelateria Vivaldi- Piazza Demidoff. The yogurt with walnuts and honey...OMG.

5. Gelateria La Carraia- Ponte alla Carraia. Popular with locals and tourists alike, this gelateria offers many tasty flavors including traditional mint chocolate chip.

When you visit Florence, give my recommendations a taste. Thank you for reading!

C. De Melo
Author & Artist


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    • REALfoodie profile image

      C De Melo 5 years ago from Florence, Italy and WORLDWIDE

      I know it well and have had many flavors there. I prefer the places that use all natural ingredients (no colors, no preservatives).

    • REALfoodie profile image

      C De Melo 5 years ago from Florence, Italy and WORLDWIDE

      Unfortunately, I found freezer burn and clumps of ice the last two times I went there. It was a great place before getting "corrupted" by Rick Steve's. They used to be cheaper, too.

    • Daniel_Benson profile image

      Daniel_Benson 5 years ago from London

      We took your ideas on board and when visiting the city, last week, we went on somewhat of a Gelato Tour, visiting multiple Gelaterie and sampling their goods! I have to say, I would propose the best to be Gelateria Santa Trinita, below the bridge of the same name (one bridge west of Ponte Vecchio) for delicious fare - particularly the Mascarpone series of flavours; try it when next there!

    • Roy Scarbrough profile image

      Roy Scarbrough 5 years ago

      I like Vivoli's

    • EmmaMedu profile image

      EmmaMedu 6 years ago

      This looks so delicious!

      I also pay attention to where I buy icecream, I don't want to risk any health problems.

    • REALfoodie profile image

      C De Melo 6 years ago from Florence, Italy and WORLDWIDE

      Thanks for the comments Peggy and Russel. Next time I am in Barcelona, I will most certainly try the pistachio!

    • Russell-D profile image

      Russell-D 6 years ago from Southern Ca.

      My experience has been that wherever we've been in Italy from Rome to Sicily, the Italians know how to make LEMON gelato or ice better than is made anywhere else.But, for Pistachio Ice Cream, two blocks from Gaudi’s La Pedrera on Barcelona’s Passig de Gracia is a corner ice cream parlor that, hands down won me over. Chuck filled with pistachio nuts and with a taste so perfect it brought me to tears of joy. If you’re ever there, don’t miss out. But beware, it will ruin every concept you ever had about P I S T A C H I O. David Russell

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Mmmmmmmm! My mouth is watering! If I ever visit Florence, I will keep your suggestions in mind. Thanks!