OUR GOURMET GUIDE TO ITALIAN GELATO
Italy’s vistas are amazing — its museums and artwork are classic and the historic landmarks are unforgettable! But the true secret to a fantastic Italy family vacation? Treat your family to gelato AT LEAST once a day. Each visit to a gelateria guarantees happiness and smiles all around. Cooling off with a cone of delicious Italian gelato works like magic!
Gelato is Italy’s own iced delight. It’s different than ice cream. We learned it is served ten degrees warmer and has less butterfat and no added air, which results in more intense flavor and a smoother consistency than ice cream. Gelato is a true Italian masterpiece!
I hope you appreciate the efforts my husband, two girls and I took to “research” our gourmet guide to gelato. As a dedicated family of foodies we took our mission seriously and “worked” very hard to consume three scoops of gelato a day per person! We only visited recommended gelaterias that received endorsements from major travel sites and trusted friends. The result: Our “efforts” paid off with mouth–watering memories of gastronomic gelato goodness!
Some important Gelato DOs and DON’Ts
DO pay the cashier before you order. Ask for either a cono (cone) or a coppa (cup), whichever you prefer. Then use your Italian or your fingers to show the server the number of gusti (flavors) you want. (Try to keep it to one hand!)
DO encourage your children to try flavors outside their comfort zone! Ask for samples. Note: You MUST top off your gelato with some panna (whipped cream) at least once!
DO indulge. Gelato in Italy is the best in the world. Load up while you can.
DO look for the words artiginale (artisinal which means made in small batches) or fatto en casa (made in the house) or produzione propis (our own production). That’s a sign of the “real deal.”
DON’T buy gelato that is brightly colored and clearly artificial. Look for pale and subtle colors.
DON’T go to just any gelato store or pick a gelateria because of a long line. Many tourists flock to the most convenient spot with colorful heaps of gelato without regard for the quality. Take a few minutes to look on TripAdvisor or Yelp to select a quality gelato joint. Or just check out our family’s favorites.
OUR FAMILY’S FAVORITE GELATERIAS IN ITALY
Note: We know there are MANY artisanal heavenly gelato joints that are not listed here. Feel free to list your favorites in the comments section below so we can all discover new favorites.
Foodies come from all around Rome to indulge in Fatamorgana’s delectable treats. Each is a true artisinal masterpiece! With unique and creative tastes and seasonal specialties, this is THE spot to try new flavors. I loved their adult specials such as the wine and alcoholic sorbets. My mouth waters remembering the refreshing Peach Mojito!
Consider trying the Pear and Gorgonzola; Apple, Almond and Cinnamon; Panacea (ginseng, almond milk and mint) or my husband’s quirky favorite, the famous Kentucky (tobacco, cinnamon and dark chocolate). Each flavor has no chemicals, no artificial flavors and some are even lactose or gluten free. All are 100% delicious!
VERONA: GELATERIA LA ROMANA
Within a five-minute walk from Verona’s Piazza Bra is the gorgeous, huge, high-style Gelateria La Romana. Open since 1947, it has long been a favorite of locals. The menu has nothing written in English, but not to worry, the friendly waitstaff will help you figure it all out. Seems the language of gelato is universal!
Highlights for us were the Caffe (coffee) and Stracciatella (tastes like chocolate chip with vanilla, but really is a fior di latte base with various drizzled chocolate bits in it). Other reviewers highly recommend the Crema and Biscotto della Nonna.
Mmmm and to make it even better — get ready for this — for no extra charge you can have drizzled warm white or milk chocolate poured into the bottom of your gelato cone, making your final bite pure heaven! I’m drooling even as I write this.
Right around the corner from Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia is one more work of art: the quaint little gelateria Carabe which features Sicilian-style gelato and their famous granita (shaved ice) which each have a fruitier taste and slightly different consistency than traditional Italian gelato.
Carabe is THE place to order Limone (lemon) because they import lemons fresh from Sicily. Consider trying their famous granita flavors, Lemon Mint, Fragola (strawberry) and Mandorla (almond), or their Pistacchio (pistachio) gelato. All Carabe offerings contain no preservatives or artificial colors. Note: Although we focused on solely our “gelato mission,” we did hear that Carabe’s cannolis are classic creamy, crunchy, culinary creations. Carabe is a refreshing must-stop when in Florence!
PISA: LA BOTTEGO DE GELATO
As we were leaving town after our visit to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, we had only minutes to spare as we rushed to catch our train to Florence. Thus we were faced with the ultimate dilemma: grab pizza for lunch or run into Pisa’s highly rated gelateria La Bottega de Gelato? The family decision — GELATO — was a good choice! We especially delighted in the Mango and Coconut, bursting with flavor. Bottega de Gelato was very inexpensive with large portions and, luckily for us, is within a 20-minute walk of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, right on the way to the train station.
Grom is actually an Italian chain of gelaterias well-known for fresh, high quality ingredients and super-modern, minimalist decor. It’s a super-cool place with super-good gelato! Grom uses only fresh fruit from their own organic farm and does not add artificial colors, aromas, preservatives or emulsifiers. Our family longs for their Pesca (peach) and Limone (lemon). For one of our family favorite “recipes,” we paired up Chocolate with their Guatemalan Coffee and Lampone (raspberry) — a gelato gourmet delight!
We enjoyed Grom so much that we were excited to find other outlets in Venice and Florence and loved it each time.
You may also enjoy:
- A Day in Florence With Kids
- Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa with Kids
- Roma Checklist: Top Things to do in Rome, Italy with Kids
- See all of the Hilton hotels in Italy
Hilton Mom Voyage writers receive free night certificates to use at Hilton Hotels & Resorts worldwide. To learn more, visit our About Us page.
Know Before You Go
- Feeding the pigeons in Piazza San Marco was banned in 2008.
- Florence is most famously recognized as the birthplace of the Renaissance. The symbol of the city is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, which is full of history and beauty.
- One of the most famous viewpoints in Venice is the Bridge of Sighs.