Where oh where does one find the best gelato in Florence…(beside my instagram page virtually dripping with gelato). It’s more difficult than you think for finding the good s***, albeit being among a sea of gelaterie in the city. People sometimes ask me “Why is there so much gelato in Florence?”
In general, there is a lot of gelato in Italy. However I must say that Florence has a particular fondness of gelato because it is said to be the birthplace of gelato. On food tours, we chat about the key figures of gelato’s beginnings: Cosimo Ruggieri, Bernardo Buontalenti and Francesco Procopio (Francesco was actually from Sicily and this is where the gelato origin wars start to ensue). As one of my guests said recently “basically we’ve learned that Florence invented everything.” Exactly. I mean, how can you not boast a city that gave the world the Italian language, gelato and the negroni?
Unfortunately, because Florence has gained popularity for fabulous gelato there are some really pathetic gelato pushers out on the cobblestone streets. I often ask myself: Aren’t they embarrassed of themselves knowingly selling such rubbish? Don’t they have any pride for their products? Fear no more! The curious appetite, food blogging gelatoholic, is here to help! Read up on my tips for avoiding bad gelato in Florence. Followed by tips on where I am stuffing my face with gelato in Florence everyday this hot hot summer 2015.
There are several ways you can spot good and bad gelato:
1. Flat, almost ribbon/wavy gelato, not big neon-colored mounds. Please avoid the big mounds! 2. Bright colors. There are not bright colors where bright colors do not exist in nature. 3. Good sign: stainless steel tins with covers cradling them, keeping them cool. 4. They are not #1 on tripadvisor. 5. They are on my blog or on my instagram feed. 6. Good gelato is not at a “self-service” cafeteria. Please, never go into anything that says “self-service.”! This is overpriced, crappy cafeteria quality food! 7. Anything with a label indicating a name brand is nasty. I.e. I see some gelato cases with a grocery store brand gelato logo on the flavor tag, like Cinque Stelle. This is very obvious that the place is NOT making their own gelato and that they are in fact, scooping it pre-made from one bucket to another. 8. Gelato sold at a coffee and/or bakery shop. Coffee served at a gelateria is O.K. Coffee shops I guarantee 95% of the time are not making gelato from scatch. 9. Look for “Produzione Propria/ Gelato Artigianale.” This means gelato made in-house, in the artisanal fashion. This does not always guarantee utmost quality, by the way. They could still be using pre-made mixes for their “house-made” gelato…it’s still technically made in house….10. If everything is in English, that is not a good sign.
I eat gelato almost everyday. Whenever people ask me those “what would you eat for the rest of your life if it could only be 3 things” kinda trivia, the answer is always gelato. If you think about it, that means 150 gelato a year. I do this for my readers, you know. I sacrifice my pancreas…for you. So you know where the best gelato in Florence is at.
It is possible to have bad gelato in Florence. But it is also possible to avoid it by being proactive and planning a bit ahead by doing a little research. Now that you have a little more knowledge of how to find the good stuff, here are a few places where I think everyone should go this summer 2015 and forever more. I have picked these based on the holy trinity of: service, quality and location. If they have mind-blowing gelato but give bad service- no. Quality- obvious. Location: there are great gelaterie outside the Florence city walls, but if you are visiting or live in the center, trekking there in the heat may not be fun. This is not to say a bike ride is not merited to reach such sweet bliss! In any case- enjoy!
1. My Sugar- This gelateria was just opened (on Via Ginori 49R) in the San Lorenzo district by a couple of young foodpreneurs, friends through Georgette of Girl in Florence. They pride themselves in seasonal flavors, sourcing fruit from the nearby historical San Lorenzo Market and even has mastery certification from a local gelato maker’s guild if I am not mistaken. San Lorenzo generally sucks for gelato, in terms of quality and service. Finally, a place to get good gelato and a sunny disposition.
2. Cantina del Gelato- There are a couple locations (Borgo La Croce in Sant’Ambrogio but also on Via De’ Bardi near Ponte Vecchio) and what I like about them is that they play with exotic fruit flavors like passion fruit, acai berry, mango and even avocado. They have something called a baby cone which is great when you just want a tiny portion of gelato.
3. Check out Gelateria de’ Medici in the Statuto zone if you are feeling like a walk, bike or car ride to a quarter just outside the city center. I listed them in a previous “Best Gelato in Florence” round-up.
5. Carapina- If a gelateria for purists existed, it would be Carapina. This is where gelato is supposed to be made is made. The genius behind the bucket is Simone Bonini and does everything in his might to procure truly artisan gelato made with whole ingredients, and only a few of them. Their watermelon is so fresh and true to the fruit that you feel like you’re biting into a slice but without the pesky seeds. I suggest his mint, watermelon and vin santo flavors. Not necessarily combined!
There you have it! I hope this will be of good use to you in your travels in Florence. Did you know that there are gelato tours in Florence? Curious? Contact me for more info!
In your gelatoholism,
The Curious Appetite
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