Fat, air, and serving temperature may be the only 3 factors that differentiate gelato from ice cream on paper, but for the real, drool-inducing good stuff, everyone knows you have to go to Italy. The taste of Italian gelato (and even the smell) reduces even the best of American ‘gelaterias’ into watery should-have-gone-with-sorbet impostors. It is as impossible to escape gelato in Italy as it is to avoid coffee in Seattle. But not all gelato is equal, so you do not want to waste these delicious indulgences on the less-than-worthy contenders. Luckily, I have gladly and thoroughly researched the lay of the land, and present a list of the best gelaterías Italy has to offer. Here it goes:
Tuscany, San Gimignano:
San Gimignano is a small medieval city filled with medieval-style walls and towers, beautiful piazzas and of course, all the gelato your could ever hope for. Gelatería di Piazza is the best in San Gimignano and debatably in all of Tuscany. Made fresh daily, the flavors are delicious and slightly more creative than most gelaterías. The sangue di blue (spicy chocolate with sour cherries) and crema di Santa Fina (Cream with saffron and pine nuts) are local favorites. Piazza Cisterna, 4, 53037 San Gimignano Siena, Italy.
La Bonta is located on the outskirts of the medieval walls that wrap around the town of Lucca. While this bakery and gelatería may be a few extra blocks away from the city center, the 10 minute walk is well worth it. The beautifully displayed chocolates and elaborate cakes are hard to turn down, but the stracciatella and tiramisu gelato are even more addictive. Beware, those who choose to go the Nutella route would be wise to opt for a smaller portion, it is very rich. Via C.Castracani 269 Arancio, 55100 Lucca, Italy.
Gelatería Kopakabana is not difficult to find, located right off of the main square, Piazza II Campo. You’ll know you have arrived once you spot the cone ladders; they almost reach high enough to touch the ceiling. Via Rossi 52, 53100 Siena, Italy.
San Crispino is not what you think of as your typical Roman gelatería. You won’t find the overflowing vibrant colored-filled buckets of gelato you often see on display, nor will you find a single cone here. San Crispino’s gelato is made with the most naturally balanced ingredients for the purist flavor; not too sweet, not too bright, and no extra flavorings. The family-owned gelatería may have a minimalist attitude when it comes to aesthetics, but the same cannot be said for their product. Each of San Crispino’s flavors are naturally rich and decadent and yes, too good to be tainted even with a delicious cone. Via della Panetteria, 42, 00187 Roma, Italy.
Rome: Della PalmaBologna: Cremería Funivia