The Gelato Bucket List: Italy’s Best Gelaterias City By City
Italy's holy trinity on every culinary jet setter’s mind: pizza, pasta, and of course, gelato. Lots of it. We've rounded up Italy's best gelaterias from the top to tip of the boot.
We’ve rounded up the best gelaterias from the top to tip of the boot, to set you off on the right foot. It’s time to embark on a gelato journey of a lifetime.
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Fatamorgana gets the seal of approval from the locals thanks to their strictly natural and often unusual ingredients, which rotate according to the season. There are dozens of flavors, or gusti, to try from the traditional zabaione (eggnog) and pistacchio (you can guess that one) to more inventive choices such as chocolate with tobacco, pear and Gorgonzola and pensiero (grapefruit, lemon zest, horseradish). They also happen to make dairy-free and sugar-free options and everything including the cone is gluten-free. With several locations around the ancient metropolis, Fatamorgana is way more than a sure bet, it is outstanding. Via Roma Libera, 11, 00153 Trastevere, Roma
Florence: Gelateria Della Passera
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Located on the Oltrarno, which literally means the ‘other side’ of Florence across the Arno River, Gelateria Della Passera is only a very short walk from major attractions like the Duomo. However its position across the Arno through a maze of streets means it is much less crowded. There, they lovingly serve handmade gelato ranging from deviously delicious fruit sorbets (fresh strawberry in springtime) to the creamy, milk-based varieties like their unique pistacchio. This place is tiny, but follow the Florentines spilling out on to the pretty Piazza della Passera and you’ll know you’re in the right spot. Via Toscanella, 15/red, 50125 Firenze
A fixture since 1969, when Antonio Mennella founded the pastry shop of the same name, Mennella has been churning out destination-worthy pastries like the frolla al limone, a shortbread pastry stuffed with lemon cream. In addition to the fresh baked Neopolitan goods, Mennella’s gelato is something else. Only the highest quality seasonal produce sourced from around the country are transformed into the flavors. Ingredients to look out for: Vesuvius apricots, Sorrento walnuts and Apulian almonds that will bring you to your knees. The Neapolitans say, “Vedi Napoli e poi muori” which translates to, “See Naples and you can die.” But be mindful, that’s not until you’ve had gelato at Pasticceria Mennella. Via Giosuè Carducci, 45, 80121 Napoli
We’d venture to say this isn’t your average gelateria, but rather more of a bistro with live music and a wide variety of produce that goes into the gelato here. The ingredient-driven flavors are made from 100% freshly picked fruit and the rest with prized components including the highest quality milk. The options rotate regularly following the seasons and availability of produce, but be on the look out for Cioccolato bianco con meringa all’Italiana e semi di papavero a white chocolate gelato with meringue and poppy seeds, a deconstructed cheesecake, lychee and walnut banana bread. Via Giovanni Enrico Pestalozzi, 4, 20143 Milano
One of the most unique and refreshing things you’ll taste in Palermo is by far the cremolata at Il Chiosco delle Cremolose (sometimes just referred to as Le Cremolose). A thicker style granita it’s lovingly crafted in a variety of flavors with the remarkable ones focused on nuts. Think pistachio, almond or even toasted hazelnuts. And what about watermelon or Sicilian blood oranges? You are guaranteed to become addicted, so map out your other important bite-seeing with your breaks to be had at Il Chiosco delle Cremolose. Piazza Alberico Gentili, 16, 90143 Palermo
Though homegrown Grom has expanded its footprint across Italy and North America, Pepino has been serving up Torino’s best gelato since 1884. This is old-school Italian gelateria style and as such the classics are what stand out—crema (custard), cioccolatto (chocolate), and caffé (coffee). Note: Pepino is said to have invented the first chocolate coated vanilla ice cream on a stick, the Pinguino. Italian for penguin, its name comes from its black and white contrasting colors. It definitely bests Good Humor and is most definitely worth a bite. Piazza Carignano, 8, 10123 Torino
For a taste of Southern ITalian style gelato while exploring medieval Siena, Il Masgalano is your spot. Right by the San Domenico Basilica, here you can try Sicilian classics like: homemade cassata, a take on the traditional sponge cake moistened with fruit juices or liqueur and layered with chocolate chip studded ricotta cheese; tartufo or their signature flavor, Crema al Masgalano a creamy concoction of bananas, figs and rum. Eat on the run or take a seat indoors or out. This place is open everyday and is a local Sienese favorite. Via Camporegio, 1, 53100 Siena
There are many gelaterie in Bologna to visit, as it is often thought of as the culinary capital, but few will top La Funivia. Their signature amarenta, with locally sourced sour cherries and some crunchy surprises is one to instagram about. Whether in a cone, on a fresh brioche or in one of their flavored cones, the only problem you’ll have is deciding which to try first. Piazza Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, 1/d/e, 40124 Bologna and Via Porrettana, 158
On a summer day walking through Capri’s main town, you can’t miss Gelateria Buonocore as there’s perpetually a line spilling down the stone street. If by chance you don’t stumble upon the worth-the-wait spot, follow the intoxicating waft of freshly pressed waffle cones. They make these babies on site, so skip the coppa (cup) in favor of gelato in a cono (cone) here. Tip: Don’t leave without trying the Torta Caprese with moist, chunky pieces of this captivating island’s classic chocolate cake. Via Cristoforo Colombo, 8, 80076 Capri
Gelateria Alaska is all about Slow Food principles. Owner Carlo Pistacchi, is almost always behind the counter serving up his hand produced, seasonal and organic (whenever possible) ingredient-driven gelati. Go for the freshly roasted hazelnut, zesty Sicilian lemon or more quirky flavors like artichoke, green tea, and rose. Santa Croce, 1159, 30135 Venezia, Get Directions
Of course, this is not a complete list. Should you veer off track on your own know this: Not all gelato is created equal. It’s critical to suss out the fake stuff from the real deal.
Here are three tips to insure you don’t waste a single serving.
1. Artisan Made
Look out for signs that say gelato artigianale (artisanal). This means the gelato is made following a set series of strict guidelines.
2. Natural Colors
If you see blinding fluorescent colors and a giant Smurf figurine resting on a flavor, this should set off an internal alarm. Move in close to examine flavors. Mente (mint) or Banana are two sure indicators, the former should be white, not green, and the latter a creamy brown or dull grey. Don’t worry, that is a good thing.
Mounds of swirled gelato bulging over the top of the tin is no buono. Usually this is the sign of big factory production and it is highly unlikely that it is made from scratch on the premises. Silver vats of gelato should be smoothed by the spatula that is the same one used to pack your cono (cone) or copetta (cup). Even more special is when the thin vats have covers and are only opened when offering a taste or paddling it onto your cone.