By Kelsey Gibson
Day #1: A Gelato Tour of the City Center
Each week we will be giving you some great insider tips from team members: Cassandra, Kelsey or Giorgio who live or have lived in Bella Italia! We will even have some special guests with even more insider info so be sure to follow along! First stop: Florence for some Gelato!
Living abroad is both exhilarating and challenging. You may try your best to live by the golden rule of “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”, but sometimes the hardest part is knowing where to begin. Living and working in Florence pushed me to explore the city and find some cool, unique, and local spots to eat, relax, and be adventurous. First on the list, of course, is the unforgettable Italian GELATO. We may view this delicacy as a dessert, but to many Italians this can be a midday snack, a refreshing addition to a meal or even a breakfast option for those with a sweet tooth! Today I’m going to take you on a Gelato Tour to my top 5 Gelato shops in Florence!
First key fact and most important one to remember: the shops along the streets with giant and beautifully designed amounts of gelato in the glass cases are simply for show. Just like they say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” …don’t judge gelato by its display design. Normally this means that the gelato is made with more artificial chemicals in order for it to hold shape better, not to taste better. Another tip is to look for the gelato that is held in metal tubs with tin lids. It doesn’t have to be some famous historical shop either to be real house-made Italian gelato!
Here are my top 5 Gelato Shops in Florence, Italy:
5. Grom – Close to the Duomo, this shop is famous among both tourists and locals. Staying open later than most shops around the Duomo, I often visited this shop with my local coworkers after getting off work. The crema di Grom is an original that pairs well with most flavors and is a must-try. The torroncino (nougat) is also a great unique option! Along with this being a great and conveniently located gelato stop, it is completely gluten-free and has a detailed chart on their menu for other food intolerances!
4. Gelateria dei Neri – this popular gelato shop is also in a convenient and well-known area near Santa Croce where many international students stay. It shares the street with many trendy restaurants and recognized stores that are around the world. The lines get long, but once you order, you won’t regret waiting for it. The ricotta and fig was recommended to me, and once I tasted it, I had to get it again and again!
Via dei Neri 9, 50122 Florence Tuscany, Italy
3. Le Botteghe di Leonardo– Off the path from the Central Market, you will find this quaint gelateria. Right as you walk through the door, you feel the true Italian atmosphere with original murals on the inside walls and built-in stone benches. Not only is the ambiance authentic, but the gelato is the perfect texture, the variation of flavors is creative and unique, and the taste is unforgettable. Their dessert wine flavor you can taste the ‘after dinner sweetness’. Their refreshing mint flavor tastes as though you are biting into a mint leaf rather than chewing a piece of artificially flavored gum. And their unique milk flower flavor melts in your mouth on a hot summer day. On top of their amazing flavors of gelato, they also sell cakes, popsicles, and other treats! The owner is knowledgeable, personable and willing to answer any questions and let you try any flavor!
2. Gelateria Santa Trinta – This was one of the first gelaterias I had ever visited in Italy and, man was I spoiled! Not only does the line go out the door and around the corner to wait for the immaculate flavors they make, the view of the Ponte Vecchio and the fresh air from being right above the Arno River makes the experience that much better! They have 38 flavors at a time and are known for their dark chocolate flavor. I have never been able to pick just one favorite because each flavor leaves an exceptional memory that you will have to go back for over and over again.
1. Gelateria della Passera- Finally, my favorite gelateria of all time is this precious and authentic gem found on the other side of the river in the ‘Oltrarno’ neighborhood. This hole in the wall sells the freshest, most mouthwatering, authentic gelato in all of Florence. They always have new flavors, and even though the variety is limited day to day, the flavors do not disappoint. Their lavender flavor cannot be found in other well known gelaterias, at least not to the quality Gelateria della Passera holds. This place will change any expectations you had and raise the bar for your future endeavors.
Hope this tour has gotten your mouth watering and taste buds churning in hopes to one day try these out if you haven’t already!
What’s your favorite gelato flavor/shop you have been to? If you don't have a favorite sign up for one of Travel Italian Style's upcoming tours and we'll be sure to help you create your own list because isn't gelato the best?!
Kelsey is the Part Time Assistant Travel Consultant for Travel Italian Style and a student at the University of Mississippi studying Hospitality Management with a minor in Spanish and Business Administration. Kelsey took part in an exchange program in Argentina in high school, which created a flourishing passion for travel and learning about other cultures. From then on, she took every advantage to study abroad and backpack around Europe. This past summer, Kelsey interned for a local restaurant, Touch, in Florence, Italy and fell in love with the Italian culture. She was able to have a real local experience by making friends with coworkers and locals. She wants to make it possible for everyone who travels to be completely immersed into the culture in order to gain another perspective and to be able to enjoy life even more!