I have a confession to make: I have an ice cream problem.
One of the world’s most popular treats, ice cream is just one of those things you need to try while abroad. Every country has their own unique take and odd flavors or quirks – you might even recall when I visited the 100 flavor ice cream shop in Japan just for kicks if seeing ‘salt’ and ‘garlic’ flavors.
The key to the success of ice cream is that it is one of the most customizable on both the flavor and the texture fronts.
There is no question in my mind that Italy is the king of ice cream, or shall I call it by the local iteration: gelato. Florence, a top destination to visit on any Italian itinerary, would have to be my favorite ice cream spot of all. There are so many flavors, you might just want to rent one of the apartments in Florence for a few weeks just to stay and try them all.
So Much Gelato
I did not have the luxury of staying in a Florence apartments during my visit, and in fact I only spent a week in Italy during my entire trip. So my rush around the country was also corresponding with a rush of mass gelato consumption, and to my surprise (or shame) I had around 30 scoops of gelato in that time period, most of which were consumed in 4 or 5 scoop per cone for around 4-5 Euro.
The point I realized I had a problem was when I reached a gelato stand in Florence that had over 20 flavors, and I realized that I have tried them all.
But during my stay in the country, there have been a few flavors that have been my favorite, and you should definitely try them out in Florence on your next visit. If you’re hungry enough you could even get the following 5 all on the same cone for best results!
Cioccolato fondente or Dark chocolate – I don’t personally like chocolate at all, but when you mix chocolate with fruit flavors, it meshes incredibly well. Chocolate covered fruit in gelato form? You can’t go wrong with that. Italians love their chocolate gelato, so be on the look out for some of these other names for chocolate when you’re in Florence: bacio (with hazlenut), gianduja (milk chocolate and hazlenut), cioccolato all’arancia (orange chocolate) and more.
Armarena or Sweet cream with sour cherries – In a bit of a compliment to the richness of dark chocolate and sweet fruit. Light cream and sour cherries offers a fantastic balance of flavor. These style of gelato are the best because you can get two flavors in one scoop, thrifty and tasty!
Fragola/lampone/mandarino/frutti di bosco or Strawberry/Raspberry/Mandarin Orange/Fruit of the Forest (Blueberries, Blackberries) – Going into my favorite flavors of fruits is a bit difficult for Italian gelato because all of the tastes are so incredibly bold. The point that should be emphasized with fruit flavors is that a knowledge of Italian is not necessary to order them, as most stands have images of the fruit that the name goes with, or even lists the English equivalent as well! The odd flavors like those below, and the chocolate flavors above are more of a concern, especially for those with nut allergies so the translations should be known prior to ordering.
Zuppa inglese or English soup – Zuppa inglese is an interesting gelato flavor, and you’re likely only to find it while exploring Italy. Rather than being hearty, which you might expect from an English soup, the flavor is a blend of custard flavor with cookie bits and a bite from sherry or other cooking wines.
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Stracciatella or Chocolate chip – You can’t really go wrong with the classics in gelato form.
It may seem a bit difficult to determine what flavors of gelato to try while in Florence. Rather than try and find only a few to sample, do my technique and get them all! You won’t be upset, and might even hit them all like I did. But with the number of gelato stalls on every single street in the city, that task might be near impossible, even for me.