Gelato. It’s amazing. I know that for a fact because every time I’ve been in Italy I ate gelato like three times a day. For real. And just so we’re clear – American gelato does not even come close to the real thing.
Gelato may be the Italian word for ice cream, but it is nothing like American ice cream. Gelato has significantly less air in it, as well as significantly more sugar. It is light and creamy and the flavors are to die for (and sometimes really weird).
However, even in Italy there is good gelato and bad gelato. If you want good, authentic gelato make sure you buy from somewhere advertised as “artigianale” and “produzione propria” – this way you now the gelato is made on site in the traditional manner. Avoid any gelato that is an unnatural color – real gelato will never be a shocking orange, pink, or blue. Finally, look for gelato in metal tubs – you will increase the likelihood that you are getting fresh, homemade gelato.
I like my gelato in a cone (un cono) but you can also get it in a cup (una coppa). Most shops will display the size of the cup or cone along with the price (in euros, of course). Make sure you are very clear about how many flavors (gusti) you want – the number of flavors determines the number of scoops. So, to order two scoops in a cone you would ask for “due gusti en un cono.”
The flavors are what really make gelato amazing. You can get almost every fruit flavor, chocolate flavors, cream based flavors, and nut flavors. Some of my favorites include nocciola (hazelnut), albicocca (apricot), and cannella (cinnamon), while my sister always swears by cocco (coconut) and pistacchio (pistachio). In some places you will find really unique flavors like rose, violet, chestnut, and pine nut. Try flavors in different combinations for a real Italian gelato experience.
What’s the most important thing to remember about gelato? To eat it, of course! Preferably, a-lot-o it!