If you’re looking for the best gelato in Italy, look no further! We’ve divided the country up by city and have given you the best gelato shops in the country!
The Best Gelato in Italy: How to identify it and where to find it
If anyone has been following me on any social media platform or my blog for any amount of time, the number one fact they could probably tell anyone about me is that I LOVE GELATO! I’m unabashedly a huge fan of this creamy delicious cold treat that can be found all over Europe, but especially in Italy!It is said by many that Italy boasts the best gelato in the world. Maybe not in one particular gelateria, but overall, the Italians do it best!
I try gelato wherever I go, and once, while visiting the beautiful Cinque Terre, I tried gelato in all five towns! I’m not ashamed! I walked hard for that gelato! When you’re busy clocking over 30 thousand steps a day in Italy, I think you’re entitled to a little cool, sweet treat!
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Before you go to Italy and eat ALL the gelato, let’s get you educated on this very important subject! You don’t just want to go eating any old gelato. I mean even with those 30K steps, you don’t want to be wasting calories on bad gelato. It’s just bad practice and has the potential to completely ruin your trip to Italy! So let’s learn a little bit about gelato!
A little gelato history
Cool treats have dated all the way back to biblical times and it’s a good thing it was so hot in the desert as it may have never been invented if everyone had air conditioning. It is thought that the Chinese taught the Arabs how to mix snow with syrups to combine a tasty treat, a first crude version of sorbetto.
Arab traders then passed down this skill to the Venetians in the middle ages. The Venetians then passed this on to the people in the south of Italy and we now have the true birth of sorbetto on the island of Sicily. Sorbetto comes from the Arabic, scherbet (sweet snow) or from the Turkish, chorbet (to sip), and was made with sugar, fruit juices, and snow (I don’t know where they got snow in Sicily…this is all hearsay by the way).
It’s unclear how sorbetto morphed into gelato by adding dairy, but sometime in the 1500s, Bernardo Buontalenti, a Florentine, brought gelato to the court of Caterina Dei Medici, and a star was born and the art of gelato making spread like wildfire across the European continent! The first person to sell gelato from Italy to the public, Francesco Procopio Dei Coltelli, actually opened a cafe in Pariscalled Café Procope, and now gelato is sold all over the world!
Now Italians consume over 4 kilograms of gelato each year! Can you blame them? I think my average might be even higher!
Gelato means frozen in Italian, but don’t worry, everyone will know you mean ice cream if you say it!
What is the difference between gelato and ice cream?
Gelato versus ice cream: what’s the difference? Many people who visit Italy think that gelato and ice cream are the same thing, but guess what, they’re not. The difference between gelato vs. ice cream is that gelato has less air than ice cream making it denser. It also has less milk fat, which can coat the tongue and dull the taste buds. Many people think that this is why gelato, which contains less cream and is churned slower, tastes better than ice cream.
It can be said that ice cream is fat and fluffy (more fat and more air) and gelato is dense and intense (less air and more flavor). And while ice cream contains eggs, gelato usually does not.
What is gelato made of?
Most gelato starts with the same base which contains milk and sugar. It is slowly churned in a gelato maker while other flavors are added. Good gelato ingredients should be fresh, with no chemicals added.
Does gelato have dairy?
Gelato contains dairy. Sorbetto does not. Sorbetto is made with a water, sugar, and fruit base, but is made the same way as gelato. So anyone who is lactose intolerant should stick to sorbetto. It’s actually my personal favorite since I love fruit so much!
Does gelato have eggs?
Not usually! While most ice cream is made with egg yolks, gelato is usually not made with eggs at all.
How is gelato made?
There are several ways to make gelato, but almost all gelato shops will have a gelato machine. There are processes called Hot Press, Cold Press, and Sprint methods.
If you can find out which kind of process a gelato shop uses, it will give you a good idea of how good the gelato will be. Avoid gelato from places that use the Sprint method, as this uses a mix and allows for little experimentation and customization. Most touristy gelato places in Italy will use the Sprint process. You can read all about the different gelato processes here.
How do you find good authentic gelato in Italy?
Italy is full of gelato, but not all gelato shops in Italy are created equal! Be sure you know how to find authentic Italian gelato that will knock your socks off! Here are a few tips to help you find the best Italian gelato:
Avoid mountains of brightly colored gelato
Look for gelato in stainless steel tubs with lids. You should have to read the best Italian gelato flavors, not see them!
Look for signs that say gelato in casa,fatto in casa, orgelato artigianale. These words all mean that it is homemade, made in house, and artisanal. But beware, some shops will advertise this when it’s not actually true!
Look for muted colors. Bananas are not bright yellow, so banana gelato should not be bright yellow either, but closer to white.
Taste test the gelato: As for un assaggio (taste) of pistachio gelato. Pistachio gelato is the most expensive gelato to produce if done correctly. If the gelato shop is cutting corners you’ll be able to taste it in their pistachio gelato. If they’re using real pistachios, you’re good to go! If it looks too bright and doesn’t taste quite right, then walk away. Using real pistachios is a sign that this gelateria is committed to making real gelato with quality ingredients, even at the expense of making a little less.
What are the best gelato flavors in Italy?
There are a wide range of flavors of gelato in Italy, and they are all pretty dang amazing! Here are some of the Italian gelato flavors you’ll find in most gelaterie:
cioccolato fondente Amazing dark chocolate! If you’re looking for regular chocolate, try cioccolato al latte.
Nutella If you know, you know! Delectable milk chocolate hazelnut!
bacio Very similar to Nutella, but usually with actual hazelnuts.
pistacchio Like I mentioned above, be sure you try this one before trying anything else! Pistacchio is the most expensive gelato to make and is delicious if done right!
mandorla Almond flavored gelato
nocciola It’s Nutella, minus the chocolate…ok, so just hazelnuts, but it’s still so yummy and almost always found at any gelateria.
fior di latte This is the base for any gelato; just creamy, sweet gelato with no added flavors.
cocco A classic, creamy, coconut gelato.
amarena fior di latte with cherries. yum!
fragola Strawberry gelato can be found at almost any gelateria and is one of the most classic gelato in Italy! Remember to find a fragola that is not hot pink, or light pink, but actual strawberry colored!
lampone Rich and delicious raspberry!
limone Lemon, I love this one on a hot day! Again, be sure you find one that is not neon yellow.
fico Fig Gelato. This is one of my favorites, but it is harder to find, but if you’re in Italy in the summer, you might get lucky. The best fig gelato I’ve ever had was at Gelato del Teatro, which you’ll read about below!
frutti di bosco technically this means fruits of the forest, but this berry gelato usually contains blueberries and blackberries.
mela Apple. This one is really yummy. I especially love mela verde (green apple).
stracciatella This is probably my kids’ favorite. It’s just fior di latte mixed with hardened chocolate sauce. Sort of like chocolate chip ice cream!
ananas Pineapple. So good on a hot day!
mango I’ll let you figure this one out.
pompelmo This is my absolute favorite sorbetto in Italy, but it’s hard to find. I’ve had it at Gelato del Teatro in Rome and Gelateria Santa Trinita in Florence. If you see it, try it!
How much does gelato cost in Italy?
The answer to this questions will vary from city to city, and from gelateria to gelateria. I would plan anywhere from €2 to €6, although I would say that the average is €3.
Be sure you know the cost before ordering. There may be many options, but you can say, “I’d like a €3 cone please.” I’ve read many articles that tell you to order your cones and pay first and then pick your flavors. More often than not I have not found this to be true.
Maybe I’m doing it wrong or maybe I have so many kids they think I look too frazzled to ask. I don’t know! Ask when you’re ready to order if they want you to pay upfront or not, then report back to me, please!
However you order gelato and however much it costs, be sure to budget a good chunk of cash for your gelato allowance while you’re in Italy!
Where to find the best gelato in Italy
I wanted a place where you could come to find the best gelato in Italy in one place! I’ve asked all of my friends who have visited Italy and had gelato (so that means everyone I know that’s been to Italy I hope) what their favorite gelateria was and they’ve given me this giant list of amazingness! If YOU have a favorite gelato shop in Italy, please let me know! I would love to share it here with everyone!
Map of the Best Gelato Shops in Italy
Here’s a map of the best gelato shops all over Italy! Zoom in to see more gelato places in each city.
The Best Gelato in Bologna
The Sorbetteria Castiglione
I’ve been to Bologna a few times, and like most cities with any amount of tourism, there are good gelato shops and not so good ones. One sign of a good gelato shop is that they keep the gelato in covered freezer containers, so you don’t actually see the gelato piled high in the display. This keeps the gelato at the proper temperature, so I was happy to see that The Sorbetteria Castiglione had them.
They are located just a little bit farther from the center than most tourists venture, but still within easy walking distance from the main sights. Their gelato was so amazing, we went in almost every day during our one week stay. They had a bunch of different, interesting flavors, including a handful of lactose-free gelato and sorbet. I highly recommend the caramello salato (salted caramel) and the mint.
From Travel Made Simple
Carpigiani Gelato University
Carpigiani Gelato University just outside Bologna is the perfect place to learn everything there is to know about gelato. First, visit the museum to find out about the history of gelato and how it’s been made over the years. Next, you can learn how to make gelato yourself – the only limit to the flavors is your imagination.
The university offers a course for people wanting to open their own gelato shop covering both the science of gelato making and the business side. We just had a short one-hour demo. Afterward, pop along to the shop to try out some amazing flavors. I chose chocolate and bacon flavor which was surprisingly delicious.
From The Travelbunny
Gelateria Galliera 49
My favorite gelato shop is Galliera 49 because it’s simple, no-frills gelato exactly the way it should be. It’s served not on display like you’ll see at most gelato shops, but with the gelato beneath the counter in metal ice cream tins keeping it cool and creamy (I learned this from my food-obsessed tour guide in Italy). They have delicious but traditional flavors like mascarpone, salted caramel, and pistachio, all of which I recommend highly!
From Eternal Arrival
This is one of my favorite gelato shops in Florence, mainly because they carry grapefruit gelato, which is my absolute favorite and difficult to find elsewhere! The lines here can get long due to its location along the Arno. But rest assured, this gelato is legit and delicious! They have a large variety of flavors and the staff is friendly.
Gelato dei Neri
Lucky for us, this gelato spot was 2 doors away from our apartment for 3 weeks. We thought it was the best and also cheaper than most places. They also have a strawberry fruit flavor (and a few others) infused with wine for the grownups – that was my personal favorite. It’s a lovely local spot and the people were very patient while my girls practiced their Italian speaking to them.
From The Chirping Moms
Il Gelato di filo
Close to Piazzale Michelangelo Il Gelato di filo is a tiny gelato store that makes some of the freshest fruit flavored gelato in Florence. We loved their strawberry and lemon flavors but they are also known for cream based and wine gelato. You can tell the ingredients are fresh from the tree or field.
From Untold Morsels
Ask any native Florentine where the best gelateria in town is, and chances are good they’ll point you to a shop a little off the beaten path (read: away from the crush of tourists) called La Carraia. Located in the Oltrarno (literally, the other side of the Arno river) quarter, La Carraia has an ideally located corner shop right off the Ponte Alla Carraia.
They offer generous portions at reasonable prices of the richest, creamy, and flavorful gelato you could hope for. After you’ve ordered your gelato, you can enjoy the Arno River, including views of both the Ponte Santa Trinita (with its famous Quattro Stagioni statues), and the Ponte Vecchio. It’s also the perfect gateway to explore the sights south of the Arno River, including the Giardino di Boboli and Piazzale Michelangelo, and find little ateliers with excellent, reasonably priced art.
From Best Traveled Babe
This tiny gelato shop in Montelupo Fiorentino makes some of the best gelato I have ever had in Italy. They don’t have a lot of flavors because they make the gelato in the back of their shop every day, so there are never leftovers and the ice cream is always fresh. The pistachio and the amarena are my two best flavors. The consistency of the gelato is soft and creamy, and the taste is so good! They only use natural ingredients to make gelato.
From The World in My Pocket
The name means ‘why not’ – and when you’re faced with so many delicious flavors plus some fascinating gelato history, there’s no good reason not to stop in here while you’re in Florence. One of the oldest gelateria in the city, opened in 1939, it specializes in semi-freddo – using cold water, sugar, and the fruit flavorings, you can’t believe just how creamy it tastes.
There are always specials on the menu, such as ricotta and candied fruit, or a Ligurian rose version, as well as the only pistachio ice cream I have ever loved. Chocolate is still one of the best-sellers, along with lemon and blueberry in summer. As a bonus, they also do gelato making courses around the corner.
From Mummy Travels
Gelateria Della Passera
Thick, creamy gelato, beautiful flavors, an adorable storefront, and low prices: it’s hard to beat Gelateria Della Passera in Florence for a delicious scoop of gelato! Located in the (slightly) less touristed Florentine neighborhood of Santo Spirito, we adore sneaking back to this little gelato shop during each of our visits to Florence for a quick treat. The small piazza nearby is perfect for enjoying a scoop of gelato in, and we love taking the opportunity to enjoy Florence’s best dessert far away from the more crowded parts of the city.
From Our Escape Clause
It’s the cutest little hidden chocolate and gelato shop that entices you to get in just by looking at its facade. I tried the classic vanilla flavor, and it was honestly the best gelato I had ever tasted! Since then, I’ve had many other gelatos, but nothing compares to my experience at Vestri.
From My Path in the World
By a long shot, the best gelato I’ve eaten in Italy was at Fatamorgana in Rome. There are three branches – I made pilgrimages to each of them. Just to be sure, you see. Portions may be small, of the ‘artisanal’ size, but Fatamorgana’s USP is the interesting and innovative flavors that often include herbs and cheeses. My favorite was the raspberry and hibiscus with black rice.
From The Mediterranean Traveller
I’ve eaten countless cones of gelato in Rome, and ever since I discovered CamBio Vita it’s been the only gelateria I’ll frequent if I’m anywhere in the vicinity. While fruit-flavored vegan gelatois easy to find in just about any gelateria, CamBio Vita has the best non-fruit vegan flavors. My usual order is two scoops – one dark chocolate and one Bounty flavor – in a chocolate-dipped cone. Heavenly!
From The Nomadic Vegan
Come il Latte
We made it a personal mission to stop at every gelateria possible while in Italy for 2 weeks. We tried a bunch along the way (so long as they weren’t those terrible, fluorescent, mile-high concoctions), and ventured to a few specific ones about which we’d heard great things. Come il Latte in Rome blew the rest out of the water. It was the creamiest gelato we tried, with intense-but-authentic flavors. Nothing was overly sweet or artificial, and the dark chocolate dip put it over the top. The groups of locals outside seemed to agree.
From Local Passport Family
One of the best things about traveling in Italy is trying all the gelato, and my favorite gelato shop is Giolitti in Rome. We had been walking for hours around the hot streets of Rome, so I was so happy when we first found Giolitti. It’s easy to spot by all the people standing around the street outside eating enormous cones of ice cream. The line was long but moved quickly.
The thing I loved the most was the unusual flavors – in fact, I went back several times to sample more flavors. They have gianduja (chocolate and hazelnuts – which you absolutely HAVE to try), caramelized fig (so good!), pear, blueberry, and even champagne. Go there on your first day in Rome so you can go back every other day you’re there to try more flavors! And grab a handful of napkins – the servings are enormous and can get messy.
From Travel Collecting
Gelateria dei Gracchi
Our favorite gelato shop in Romeand one we make a point of visiting every time we are in the city is called ‘I Gracchi’. They made a name for themselves years ago because of their obsession with genuine ingredients and traditional making techniques and their gelato is so delicious, they are now pretty much an institution in Rome! Their shops have simple decor and the star of the show are the gelato flavors themselves: you can choose between creams (I adore zabajone and chocolate orange, seriously delicious) and fruit flavors. They only use fruit that is in season and the taste is amazing. I noticed recently that I Gracchi also does ‘free from’: this is great as if you have a lactose intolerance for instance, it means you can have gelato without issues. They are also very good at labeling for allergies which I think is very reassuring if you have any food intolerance in the family
From Mama Loves Rome
When visiting Rome, the craving hit for some gelato on a beautiful spring day. We were on our way to the Trevi Fountain and started to look for a good gelato shop. After seeing the Trevi Fountain we made our way to Melograno, located in the same square. Since it was an area flooded with tourist I didn’t expect much, but the gelato ended up being the best we ate while we were in Rome. My choice was the dense, rich chocolate gelato.
From Honeymoon Always
La Strega Nocciola
We spent our week in Rome trying every gelateria we could find and I came away with a clear favorite: La Strega Nocciola. It’s a small, unassuming shop but they bring top-quality ingredients and interesting flavors (in addition to the classics). Their chili chocolate, in particular, can’t be missed! You can also find La Strega Nocciola in several locations in Florence.
From The Family Voyage
Gelateria del Teatro
How do you spot real gelato? The secret is in the colors. Pistachio should be a muted green (not bright green). Banana should look almost gray (never yellow). And every other flavor should carry the color of the ingredient it boasts—never an artificial one. This is how I knew when I walked into Gelateria del Teatro in Rome that it was most definitely the real deal.
Hand-crafted gelato made with real ingredients. My heart tripped over itself in delight. And then I tried some and my heart tripped again. Long story short, I went back almost every day of my month in Rome and tried every single flavor they offered at the time—from creamy pumpkin to raspberry thyme. Every single one lived up to my expectations.
From Vicious Foodie
Gelateria La Romana
During my last trip to Rome I stayed in a lovely boutique hotel across the road from Gelateria La Romana. Every time we walked past, this little Gelato shop literally had a line-up around the corner of mostly Italians. So if the Italians eat there… it’s probably good Gelato, right? We eat at least two cones a day and it was absolutely the best, creamiest gelato I’ve ever tasted.
From Fly Stay Luxe
Venchi Chocolate and Gelato
Having sampled countless gelato treats during our Italy road trip we stumbled upon Venchi Chocolate and Gelato moments before leaving for the airport in Rome. We were drawn by the extravagant hot chocolate waterfall adorning the shop wall and couldn’t resist indulging in the rich Italian style gelato. The flavors are mouthwatering and the gelato is smooth, creamy and delicious. Located just steps from the Pantheon, we grabbed a seat at the fountain in Piazza della Rotonda and adored both the gelato and the view!
From Show Them the Globe
Gelateria Della Palma
Gelateria Della Palma in Rome is a must visit for anyone strolling through the streets near the Pantheon. Their delicious assortment of gelato includes over 150 different gelato flavors. From the moment you step into this little shop, you can’t help but want to try every delicious flavor you see, or grab a bag of Italian goodies off to the side.
Della Palma has even created gelato varieties without soy, milk, gluten and even sugar, perfect for those with allergens who wish to taste truly delectable gelato ice. In addition to gelato, the café also has sweet desserts and cakes to choose from, which one can enjoy inside the shop. Of course, if you do get gelato to go, make sure you devour it quickly, the Italian sun is quick to do so as well.
From The Elusive Family
The Best Gelato in Milan
Cioccolati Italiani is the perfect place to indulge in delicious gelato. There are plenty of flavors to choose from but the focus, as the name entails, is on delicious chocolate – and the store is famous for its many chocolate fountains! You can even have a shot of said chocolate on an ice cream cone. We tried the store located at the historical center of Milan, but there are quite a few stores across the country.
From Two Find a Way
The Best Gelato in Modena
My favorite gelato shop in Italy is undoubtedly Emilia Cremeria in the charming city of Modena. Though this lovely city in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is known for other gastronomic delights such as tortellini and balsamic vinegar, Emilia Cremeria churns out some of the richest and creamy gelato I have ever tasted, giving you one more reason to visit Modena if you are a serious foodie. The shop is small and located in the Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini, only about one hundred meters away from the beautiful Piazza Grande and it is the perfect stop on any visit to this Emilia-Romagnan city.
From The World Was Here First
The Best Gelato in Pisa
La Bottega del Gelato
I have happy memories of living in Pisa as a student some 20 years ago and eating gelato regularly from La Bottega del Gelato. The gelateria is still going strong today. It’s is in a great location in the center of Pisa close to the River Arno. Locals buy ice cream and then head off for a passeggiata along the riverfront, a great way to spend an evening. La Bottega is open until 1 am!
From Smudged Postcard
The Best Gelato in San Gimignano
When in Italy, you have to try the gelato shop named as the World Champion, right? And it’s not a gimmick: the gelato at Dondoli really is that amazing! Order the deliciously rich chocolate or one of Dondoli’s unique specialties, like pink grapefruit or blackberry lavender and enjoy your gelato in the beautiful square outside.
From Because Germany
The Best Gelato in Venice Italy
We loved the Magnum store in Venice which was right next to our hotel just across from the Central train station. You can choose you ice cream bar. Then you pick what kind of chocolate you want it dipped in – white, milk, or dark then choose what kind of chocolate you want drizzled on top of it all along with some toppings. The selection of toppings and ice cream are great here catering to little taste buds. Adults can get an espresso shot with the ice cream for the added energy to keep up with the kids.
From Outside Suburbia
You’ll probably recognize these beautiful cones from any Instagram picture geotagged “Venice.” This decadent gelato shop does not hold back when it comes to the richness of their flavors or their lush toppings. Watch out though, real gelato melts super fast, so take your pictures and eat it up quickly. Be sure to grab a ton of napkins as well!
The Best Gelato in Turin
Caffè Fiorio is located in the heart of Turin, Italy. It is one of the oldest historical cafes in the city and once was a regular meeting spot for nobles; the shop opened in 1790. Caffè Fiorio has many specialties like it’s Bicerin; a local treat of coffee mixed with chocolate and cream. However, the shop has always been known for it’s gelato.
The ice cream is made from an ancient recipe and artisanal production. Perhaps the shop’s most famous flavor is their gianduia gelato. It is a blend of chocolate and ground hazelnut. If you’re stopping in for a historical experience, sit at one of the tables inside. If you’re popping by for a quick gelato, you can use their walk-up window located outside. Be warned though, there is usually a line for this delicious treat!
From Big Brave Nomad
The Best Gelato in Trieste
The Gelateria Zampolli is located 3 minutes walk from the railway station in Trieste, in small premises, and often there are long queues of people standing on the street. There is hardly a gelateria that is consistent with quality, and Zampolli is one of them. I’d dare say one of the best gelato I have had in Italy. This family-owned gelateria has been existing since 1940, so it’s a quite institution in Trieste. All ingredients are organic, and the ice cream is real artisan made. There are way too many flavors to choose from, so the owner has created flavors with no name “senza-nome”. Just in case you feel overwhelmed, feel free to order these flavors: “1-2-3” and you’ll be sure to get the owners’ best choice with the perfect ice cream flavor combination. A must when visiting Trieste.
From Rocky Travels
Best Gelato All Around Italy
Unlike many of the gelato shops in Italy, Grom is a chain. While I normally advocate for going local, the gelato at Grom is outstanding and worth trying at least once in your trip! Originally established in Turin, it now has branches all over the world including Rome, London, and Dubai meaning you can get a true gelato fix wherever you are! I particularly recommend trying the scrumptious strawberry.
From Wandermust Family
Phew! I know that was a lot of information about gelato along with a long list of the best gelato in Italy, but I hope you found it useful!
Here are a few more resources to help you plan a trip to Italy: