Everything You Need To Know About Gelato In Italy (And Then Some)

Everything You Need To Know About Gelato In Italy (And Then Some)

Warning: this post will most likely make you crave gelato

Italy is incredible for more reasons than one. Studying abroad in Florence has been one of the greatest things I have ever experienced. Italy is known around the world for their amazing food. I feel like the past three weeks I have eaten more pasta than I have in my entire life. Before I came to Italy, everyone told me that I was going to love the gelato. After all, ice cream is one one of my main food groups in the States.

I’ve been in Italy for three weeks now, and I can count on one hand the number of times I haven’t had gelato. It is incredibly rare that I go a full 24 hours without eating gelato. It’s so good I decided to write an article about it so that everyone will be fully prepared for whenever the time comes to consume the best food in the world.

The word gelato means “frozen” in Italian. A gelateria (plural=gelaterie) is the name for a place that sells in gelato in Italy. One can find a gelateria in Italy as often as one can find a coffee shop or a gas station in the United States. Italians understand that gelato is a staple and thus, you will never walk more than 3 blocks before coming across a gelateria.

So what is gelato and how is it different from ice cream?

Gelato is made from a base of milk, cream and sugar, and is flavored usually with chocolate, fruit, nut purees and other flavors. Ice cream, as its name suggests, has a lot more cream than gelato does. Rather than cream, most gelato is made with whole milk, less cream and usually no egg yolks. By Italian law, gelato must have at least 3.5% butterfat. Ice cream in the United States is required to have at least 10% butterfat.

As an avid consumer of ice cream, I can confidently say that gelato is far better than any ice cream I have ever tasted. Gelato is churned with less air than other frozen desserts, and contains more flavoring – which accounts for the density and richness of gelato. Also, gelato is typically stored in warmer temperatures than ice cream, anywhere form 7 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to ice cream, which is stored anywhere from 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The soft, silky taste of gelato is due in part to the higher storage temperatures. Gelato also has a lower fat content than ice cream, which is always a bonus!

Ordering gelato in Italy is slightly different than how one would order ice cream in the United States. The biggest difference is that it is common-practice to pay for your gelato at the cash register first and then present your receipt to the person who is serving the gelato. It is imperative that you tell the person the number of flavors, or “gusti,” you would like. The more flavors, the smaller portions of each one, but it will still be the same amount of gelato. This is a wonderful benefit for individuals who may be indecisive or wanting a taste of more than one flavor.

Below are some of the most common flavors found in gelaterie, with the English translation:

Cioccolato (chocolate)

Bacio (chocolate hazelnut)

Pistacchio (Pistachio)

Mandorla (almond)

Nocciola (plain hazelnut, not combined with chocolate)

Cocco (coconut)

Zabione or Crema (egg custard)

Fragola (strawberry)

Lampone (raspberry)

Limone (lemon)

Mandarino (orange)

Melone (cantaloupe)

Albicocca (apricot)

Fico (fig)

Mela (apple)

Pesca (peach)

Stracciatella (vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips)

As a self-proclaimed professional gelato connoisseur, I have a few final pieces of advice. First and foremost, it is completely acceptable (and even recommended) to have gelato more than once a day. Compared to the United States, things in Italy are much smaller in scale. That being said, the smallest size is actually small. If you make the (excellent) choice of having gelato after lunch and dinner, or even as an afternoon snack, you can plan your flavors according to the time of day. Personally, I love fruit flavors in the afternoon. The summer heat in Florence is unforgiving; you step outside, take 3 steps and you’re sweating profusely. Fresh, fruity gelato is the perfect way to cool down and feel refreshed. In the evenings, I generally choose a more decadent flavor. My personal favorite is Nutella, but bacio and nocciola are amazing too. If you happen to be in Florence, do yourself a favor and hit up Gelateria de Neri, also known as my heaven on Earth.

Cover Image Credit: Gabriela DiCristoforo

Popular Right Now

"Keep Calm And Remember You Will Die:" A Play-By-Play Through The Catacombs Of Paris

A walk lined with the remnants of 6 million people taught me more things about life than I expected.

“STOP. YOU ARE ENTERING THE EMPIRE OF DEATH.” It says outside the entrance of the Catacombs. Well, at least that’s what I’m told – everything is in French, and I’d believe anything the Parisians tell me.

The moment I cross the threshold, it’s as if I interrupted a party – a 200-year-old party – where all eyes are on me – all 6 million pairs of them. Femurs are neatly stacked along the walls of the narrow tunnel, with two rows of deteriorating skulls lined at my hip and eye level. The wall stacks well above my height, with a piles of broken, misshapen bones thrown onto the top – from neatly curated to forgotten remnants. I make sure to not touch the browning relics. My eyes are drawn to the perfectly lined skulls that jut out of the wall. If only death were as dignified as this. And yet the crumbling faces of what used to be are so fragile. I try to take a photo of one side of the wall, but I’m too close. I inch back and lean against the wall behind me. I take the photo. I turn my head and see a skull, with half its face eaten off, 5cm from my nose. OH SHIT THAT’S NOT A WALL. My entire body flinches away from the barricade, and I almost fall onto the other bone-lined wall. Great. They say don’t touch, and you fucking lean your back against it. It feels like I’m drenched in the souls of these dead bodies. I shiver. Well, I might as well see what a 200-year-old bone feels like. I touch the curve at the end of a random person’s femur. Gaaahh! SORRY, I internally apologize. It’s cold. Smooth. Empty. I look up to barren eyes reminding me of the rules as if it were guarding its other bones. Okayyy, moving on. My eyes follow the line of skulls as if it were the glow-in-the-dark airplane safety lines that lead you to the exit. The skulls lead me to a bend in the path. Inhale. Exhale. Eyes forward. Walk.

I focus on the end of this straight tunnel, wondering where everybody is. I am alone. The further I go into the tunnel, the less I remember the beginning. I am trapped under the ground, the metro, the sewage system, the fossils. I have nobody to rely on but the lonely lights that dimly encourage me to keep on inching forward. All I can hear is the eerie music playing in my audio guide as the voice tells me dates I can’t imagine, names I can’t pronounce, and stories I won’t remember. Accompanying this is the crunching of the pebbles beneath my feet – which seem to get louder and louder, I might add. Gone is the smooth pavement. I’m transported to 1780 – pebbled floor, stone walls, and a low ass ceiling. Just keep walking forward, I tell myself. But the bones are getting closer and closer, the ceiling getting lower and lower, my steps seem to get smaller and smaller.

Time stops. The lights flicker. I don’t dare blink and lose a second of light, of security. I am going to die in here. Crunch. I keep walking. Water drips from the ceiling. It forms a puddle. Oh god, how deep underground am I? Crunch. Drip. What if water starts filling this tunnel? Crunch. Drip. Drip. Drip. Where the fuck is everybody?! Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Drip. Drip. WHY ARE ALL THESE SKULLS LOOKING AT ME??

I stop. I enter a breathing space, a room that’s cut out of a scene from the Flintstones (if they lived in a cave and used the dead bodies of their enemies as furniture). There is a notch in the wall with of a simple bench made out of stone. I step away from the empty-eyed heads. I feel less ogled at. Breathe. I step out of my haven to take a photo of a collection of skulls shaped like a giant barrel – yes, a barrel. I do this with my right hand as the voice in my left hand tells me that a party was once held in this space. No fucking way. So a party really was held in here. I smile. Inhale. Exhale. Eyes forward. I see stairs. I keep walking.

Climbing up a spiral staircase, I remember what it felt like coming down into this ossuary – as if I were drilling myself into a hole with every step I took. Climbing up, all I see is me surpassing all these layers of greening stone bricks. I’m beating them to the top. I powerwalk as gracefully as one can out of there and am hit with blinding light and wind. Wind. Yes. I am transported into another part of town. In the window of the Catacombs gift shop across the street is a t-shirt that reads,


Cover Image Credit: pixabay

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

I Learned Living In A Group Is Really Survival Of The Fittest

Sometimes being in a big group means things are bound to not go so well.

With there being nine in a group, something is bound to happen. Well, things did happen, unfortunately; we were on our way from Munich, Germany to Orchweiser, Germany and had a ten-minute switch in Stuttgart, Germany from one platform to the next. It sounded pretty easy to me thinking about it, and I didn’t think too much of it when we were on the train. It seemed like the team knew go fast and get to the next train since we didn't want miss it.

But little did we know, when we jumped out of the train and bolted to the next one that is was crazy. I kid you not, we had to run the whole way down to the other side of the train and to a different platform to go around another train, down the long stretch, and hop onto the next train. Well, it was not easy one bit!

The worse part was the heavy luggage on our back and trying to dodge other people. Running like no tomorrow just didn’t feel so good on my legs. Many of us just weren't prepared for the run. The good news though was that I was lucky enough to run a good pace and follow the leader to the fast people in my group. I saw that one hopped on the train in case it started to go but others in the meantime we're still running to the correct car.

Knowing myself, I’m not the fastest runner and didn’t want to miss the train so I ran to the next car and got in. But much of the team was either left behind or way ahead in the correct car. Then we got a call from one of the teammates saying they missed the train with two others and that was what we where afraid would happen.

So six of us were on the train and three were left in Stuggart trying to get another train to get to the rest of us. The best part was when we were sitting there we discussed how they didn't know where the rest of went, and then said it was definitely survival of the fittest because if you don’t pay attention and/or go quickly you won’t survive. That’s what’s happened to the three team members in the group.

We all love each other but we knew something like this would happen, and most of us like to say it as “life in a group” whenever something happens like that. But that wasn’t even the last of their travel. They finally got a train and were on their way to where we were, and they called us again saying they got off too early and did not have time to catch another train.

It was very late when they got in, but thankfully they finally made it. Learning from that experience I’m just glad I was one of the ones that survived that crazy train switch. I now understand a bit more about public transportation and how it works as well. It’s always good to be safe than sorry, but hey that’s life in a group.

Cover Image Credit: Katelyn Good

Related Content

Facebook Comments