Let’s face it—when you visit Florence during the spring and summer months it’s going to get hot. The powerful Mediterranean sun is no joke. Thankfully it’s easy (and delicious) to cool off the Italian way with a cold, sweet, flavorful gelato.
Gelato isn’t hard to find in Florence, but how do you know you’re getting the real deal? Here are a few things to look out for to know you’re getting the best gelato in Florence.
Gelato in Florence: Dos and Don’ts
- Do look for “artigianale.” Meaning “artisanal”, this suggests that the gelato is homemade in the shop with fresh, natural ingredients without preservatives or artificial coloring. In the pan, the gelato should have some volume with the signature swoops and swirls. A round pan with a lid also indicates that the gelato was made in-house.
- Do mix & match flavors! Usually a small gelato gives you two flavors, medium and large give you three, and an extra large gives you four. Have fun and experiment with flavor combos like Nutella and coffee, or lemon and strawberry.
- Do try seasonal flavors! Fig gelato might sound weird, but when enjoyed in the autumn at the peak of the season there’s nothing better.
- Do try the classics. If an excellent plain vanilla is the mark of a well-made American ice cream, then fior di latte is the Italian equivalent. Meaning “flower of milk,” fior di latte is made just with cow’s milk and cream, sugar, and starch. The best gelato showcases high-quality local ingredients and simple flavors. Fior di latte is a must-try, as well as stracciatella (a base of fior di latte with chocolate chips), pistachio, hazelnut, and dark chocolate.
Expert’s Tip: During the sweltering summer months, order your gelato in a cup. The heat will melt your gelato faster than you can say, “Mamma mia!” so a cone isn’t worth it!
- Don’t be enticed by gelato mountains. While pleasing to look at behind the counter, gelato piled sky high means air was pumped into it. It won’t be as cold, and you’ll be paying for more air and less flavor. On the other side of the coin…
- Don’t get gelato that’s pressed completely flat in the pan. This indicates that the gelato was not made in the shop, and instead purchased from an industrial producer.
- Don’t eat neon gelato. Just like the mountains, artificially colored gelato might be pretty but the best gelato gets its bright colors and mouth-watering flavors from fresh local ingredients.
- Don’t overspend. A small cup or cone of gelato in the center of Florence should be around €2.50. If you see prices that are €3 or more then find a different gelateria.
To sum it all up: like everything else good in Italy, the best gelato will be homemade with fresh local ingredients, and devoid of artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors.
Our Gelateria Recommendations: Where to Find the Best Gelato in Florence
Whether as a dessert after lunch or an evening treat grabbed on your walk home, there’s no bad time to enjoy gelato in Florence. Here are just a few of the gelaterias where you can find us on any given day.
Gelateria La Carraia (Piazza Nazario Sauro 25/R; Via dei Benci 24/R) serves up super creamy and light gelato in abundant portions.
Gelateria Edoardo makes organic gelato in their retro-style shop located in Piazza del Duomo. They also have gluten-free cones and vegan options.
La Sorbettiera is family-owned and makes classic gelato as well as unique flavors like a Thai inspired gelato with lemongrass and coconut milk.
Gelateria Santa Trinita (Piazza de’ Frescobaldi, 11/R) is located just on the other side of the river. After you’ve gotten your gelato you can sit on the Santa Trinita bridge and enjoy views of the Arno and Ponte Vecchio.
Gelateria dei Neri makes unique flavors like passion fruit, mango, and chocolate with hot chili and pistachio.
Grom was founded in 2003 in Turin with the mission to make gelato how it used to be made. Now a famous worldwide brand, you might have to wait in line for a while. Grom’s Florence location is just down Via del Campanile adjacent to the Duomo.
Gelateria Mordilatte is nearby if Grom has a long line, and their philosophy for using the best and freshest local ingredients (especially fruit) can be tasted in every scoop.
La Strega Nocciola is a play on words of “Strega Nona,” or Grandma Witch. The three locations around Florence are decorated with witchy-themed decor and pride themselves on making gelato with no artificial ingredients.
Vivoli has been family-owned and operated for four generations, and is said to be the oldest gelato shop in Florence, founded in 1930. They don’t serve their gelato in cones, just cups!
Perchè No? (Via dei Tavolini 19R) is a historic gelato parlor serving sweet treats since 1939. They make their gelato with all natural ingredients, and they have vegan and soy options.
Verity Pryor-Harden is a freelancer of many talents living in the historical Tuscan city of Arezzo while studying Visual Communications in Florence. She’s a sucker for a cold spritz in a piazza on a hot day, enjoys making bizarre wine pairings, and is a Tuscan street food enthusiast. Follow along on Instagram @verityeph.