Florence, Italy: The Best Gelateria Shops!
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.
Discover the Florence Ruled by the Medici
100% All - Natural Ingredients, 100% Delicious
History of 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.
Fior di Latte e Menta (Sweet Cream & Mint) from Gelateria della Passera
My List of Favorites
There are many wonderful gelaterias in Florence worth trying. Below is a list of the places that have never left me down (not even once).
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. They also make cheesecake and a white chocolate pistachio mix.
6. Sbrino (NEW, recently opened in summer 2018) in the Oltrarno. Few flavors but divine. They have milk delivered fresh daily and pasteurize it themselves, which makes it easily digestible. Try the cinnamon cookie crunch or black licorice.
When you visit Florence, give my recommendations a taste. Thank you for reading!
C. De Melo