Gelato Every Day: Week 3

Day #1: We tried Cantina di Gelato, recommended by the ticket seller at the Palazzo Pitti, and it had some interesting and unusual flavors. I had (roasted) pumpkin and turmeric with fig; Brett chose rum with chocolate chips and hazelnut. The flavor cards were written in Italian, English and Russian (and the gelato was delicious)!

We have learned a lot these past few weeks about gelato. For example, this past week we found out that gelato was most likely invented in Florence – who knew? We’ve also learned several tips on how to choose true artisanal gelato. We’ve been on a hunt ever since to eat the best and avoid the worst . . . and mostly succeeded, I think.

Day #2: Vivoli, near Santa Croce, has been making gelato for 80 years! They only serve their product in cups. My flavors were rum with candied nuts and orange cream, and Brett had blueberry and Japanese persimmon.

Day #3: On our way to visit L’Accademia and after my fall, we stopped in at My Sugar. I chose rose (so good!) and matcha latte flavors while Brett had black sesame and hazelnut.

The ticket seller at the Pitti Palace that we chatted with last week, a local, told us that one way to find quality gelato is to look for small, covered containers. Or, look for small rectangular containers where the gelato inside does not come up to the rim (small batch). Also, make sure the flavor is written first in Italian. Finally, look for muted colors that are found in nature, and not bright “Pokémon colors.” He said if we see gelato in mounds we should run away as quickly as possible, same if we see the flavor cards written primarily in English as it means the gelato is industrially produced and pumped full of fat and made for tourists.

We also found a list of recommended gelateria written by a food writer and sommelier in Florence who leads culinary tours in the city – her site provided us with several new places to try. We were pleased to find our neighborhood gelateria, Sbino Gelatificio Contadino, made her list as we stop by frequently.

Day #4: We stopped at small gelateria in Vernazza. Their selection wasn’t great and definitely non-artisanal. I opted for sorbetto instead of gelato for a change, choosing passionfruit and strawberry flavors. Brett decided on cherry cream and fiori di latte.

There were a few gelateria open in the Cinque Terre, but we ordered ours in Vernazza, where flavors were limited. Just to show how seriously gelato can be taken though, apparently a gelato war is going on between two shops in the village of Corniglia, with each claiming to be the best. Apparently the whole village has taken sides in the dispute.

Day #5: Back in Florence we were tired so walked down to Gelateficio Contradina and they did not disappoint: We both chose the egg cream with sweet marsala flavor, but I chose orange and ginger (very yummy!) for my second flavor, and Brett had coffee.

Sunday in Florence was cold and drizzly, but Brett took one for the team and went out in the late afternoon for takeout from our neighborhood shop. They didn’t have much left to choose from, but he put together chestnut and Speculoos cookie flavors – delicious!

Brett’s hand work continues to get better every week. I don’t even have to ask any more – we buy gelato and he’s ready to pose! He’s glad though that we have just one more week to go (maybe two if we continue our quest in Rome).

We finished the week back where we started, at Cantina di Gelato because it was one of the few gelateria open on Monday. I got rum with chocolate chips and hazelnut with Nutella swirl and chopped hazelnuts; Brett got passionfruit and ricotta and fig.

8 thoughts on “Gelato Every Day: Week 3

    • Laura says:

      It’s get harder to find the more unusual flavors these days, but we are finding better quality gelato now I think. We came across a shop the other day that had lavender and Aztec chocolate flavors that I wanted very much to try except I wasn’t really hungry – we’d already had gelato. The shop had small batches, so I doubt they’ll be there this week, but we’re going to try!

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  1. Vivian says:

    I know sugar levels are lower in Europe than here in the U.S. Does anyone have a sugar free option. As a diabetic, I have to be really careful as I control everything by diet..

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    • Laura says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen any gelato labeled sugar free. But the sugar levels are quite low in the quality stuff. We’ve gotten so used to having things less sweet while we’ve been here and I think we’re going to be shocked by how sweet things are when we’re back in the U.S.

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  2. Snoskred says:

    In Australia probably the best and most creative gelato is to be found at Gelato Messina – but unfortunately they present it in mounds, though it is all made by them. 😉

    Your gelato tour is inspirational and I have suggested this as an option for my parents who are soon to retire. 😉

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    • Laura says:

      We are hoping to get to Gelato Messina when we’re in Sydney. It looks like my brother and his wife will be joining us there (they live in Queensland) and they will be showing us around and we will ask about going for gelato.

      I can’t remember where we got the idea to have gelato every day, but it really has been a lot of fun. We started out sort of casual but now plan where we want to go in advance. We’ve developed a great list of places as backups if our first choice isn’t available. Best of all, we are getting to try some very good gelato!

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    • Laura says:

      Unless it’s a flavor we’ve had before, or we’ve chosen the same flavor, we always share. That’s how I knew I wanted the rum with chocolate chips when we went back to Cantina di Gelato!

      We’ve got one more week to go and I’m hoping to discover a few more wonderful flavors. We read that we need to try a gelateria’s nut flavors (pistachio or hazelnut) more as that’s how you can judge a great gelateria, so I may be eating more pistachio this week!

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