Last Updated on September 14, 2020 by Jeremy
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Is there anything better than Italian gelato? Arguably some of the best ice cream in the world, we found ourselves addicted to it when traveling throughout the country (so much so that we ate it 2-3 times per day depending on the day).
While we love gelato just about everywhere, the gelato in Florence was what we kept going back to time and time again. So, naturally, on my most recent trip to Florence I had to get out and find some of the city's best.
Today, I wanted to share my thoughts on those shops!
What We Look For in Italian Gelato
In general, our criteria for evaluating Italian gelato is simple- it is a balance of texture and flavor. We want a creamy texture, and strong, bold flavors. For us, ice is the killer of most Italian gelatos, and mild flavors are the next worse sin.
Beyond this, our selection criteria for visiting shops is a mix of looking at other reviews, walking by and seeing crowds, and also the storage medium itself. For gelato in Florence (and, really, all over Italy), there is a trend for shops to stack their gelato as high as possible, style them to look pretty, and use that to entice you into the shop.
This is the hallmark of bad gelato to us. Why? If all the gelato is piled high, no one is going in there to eat it!
As such, we tend to stay away from these places altogether. From there, our concerns are a bit more relaxed. We prefer visiting shops that place their gelato in canisters with lids (pictured above), if only to help with Angie's food allergy, but we do not discern between the two storage styles other than in this one small factor. While these tend to be better than average, it is not a set rule with regards to quality.
So, with that in mind, let's talk about some of the shops. While all of the shops, for the most part, meet the above criteria to get us in the door, they still range in quality from there.
Shops in this article are organized by least favorite to most favorite, so as you get further and further down the list you'll find spots we like more. That being said, we are also of the mindset that sub-par gelato in Florence is often better than most ice cream anywhere else, so you can likely hit all of these and still find something for you.
Festival del Gelato
Festival del Gelato is about as close to violating our rule of “what not to look for in an Italian gelato shop”- namely, an absurd number of flavors, neon everywhere, big mounds, and a strong focus on the aesthetic to entice you into the door. I say close, as there are other worse offenders in Florence, except this one is over-the-top on the neon.
That being said, decent reviews got us into the doors of this one, and we left with the same thought- its decent. Good, not great, and definitely not close to our favorite in Florence. We stuck to fruity flavors here and found the texture to be leaving a lot to be desired and the fruit flavor to also be somewhat mild- misses on both of the things we look for.
All things being equal, the limoncello had a pretty strong lemon flavor and would be my preferred choice here if you visit.
Festival del Gelato is located at is located at Via del Corso 75/red just off a main walking street.
Gelateria Santa Trinita
Gelateria Santa Trinita is perhaps on the higher-end of gelato shops in Florence, both in terms of aesthetic and price. This one is located just south of the Ponte Santa Trinita (one bridge west of the Ponte Vecchio) and offers a rather robust flavor selection with some unusual options like black sesame in addition to more common fruit/chocolate/nut flavors.
While I would say that the black sesame was a unique flavor to try, I made a mistake in getting a full scoop as its flavor was almost too strong for a savory ice cream. The fruit flavors here fell apart both in the texture and flavor department, with the flavors being somewhat light (an opposite problem of the black sesame). But what really dropped this one down for us was the dark chocolate which was the most bitter of any we had in Florence.
I could see the above thoughts for this shop being mostly based on the luck of the draw with our flavor choices, but I think the relatively mild fruit flavors with average texture turned me off for the higher-than-average price point.
Gelateria Santa Trinita is located at Piazza Dei Frescobaldi on the south side of the Ponte Santa Trinita.
Gelateria Artigianale Da Angelo
Gelateria Artigianale Da Angelo was one of the few gelato shops that we found at random. This one is located just steps from the Ponte Vecchio and was located just across the street from our Airbnb. Couple that with decent reviews, gelato stored in steel canisters, and that great proximity and you know we had to stop.
This one had a lot of unusual flavors with a seeming focus on Asian and/or tropical fruits. The pineapple jumped out at us for having rather robust flavors despite only a somewhat creamy texture. All things being equal, we would return to this one for the vibrant fruit flavors and the incredibly friendly staff alone.
Gelateria Artigianale Da Angelo is located at Borgo S Jacopo 25/R, on the first crossroad southwest of the Ponte Vecchio.
Gelatai Toscani is another place that we stumbled upon by accident and visited for the same reasons as the above shop- great reviews, unique flavors, and storage in covered vessels.
This shop not only offers unique flavors, like cream or peanut, but also delivers with a wonderful creamy texture to boot. But getting beyond this, Gelatai Toscani also has a unique pricing structure that varies by individual flavor- making some of their options quite approachable for just a couple of Euros.
While the scoops here are on the small side, they made for a rather surprising visit all around (seriously, go get the peanut).
Gelatai Toscani is located at Lungarno Corsini 16r along the first crossroad north of the Ponte Santa Trinita (west side before Ponte Alla Carraia).
Perche No. is one of those places we remembered as a favorite from our visit in 2013, and six years later their quality still held up.
During my last visit here I opted for some of the more savory flavors such as chocolate and pistachio, and was pleased with the overall creamy texture and strong flavors. While nothing jumps out at me as being stellar from this particular gelato shop, I would say that it rings true as being a solid shop in flavor options, flavor/texture, and price.
For being located right in the heart of central Florence, this one stands out as being just a bit better than its nearby competitors- that we sampled at least.
Perche No. is located at Via dei Tavolini 19r, just steps from the main walking street and one block from Festival del Gelato.
With La Carraia we start getting towards what we consider to be best of the best in this list, and to visit this one you'll need to walk to the south side of the Ponte alla Carraia.
This one hits a number of things we look for in great gelato and has superb texture, an array of unique flavor choices (go for the amaretto or the fruited cheesecake- the latter had generous gobs of fruit syrup mixed in), and even good portion sizes for the price. My only regret was that I got to this one just once, so my flavor profile knowledge is much more limited than compared to the remainder of places on this list.
La Carraia is located at Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25/r, just on the south side of the Ponte alla Carraia.
Gelateria dei Neri
Or favorite gelateria in Florence proper, without a doubt, is Gelateria dei Neri. It was our favorite when we visited in 2013, and it was the favorite of my entire family during our visit again six years later.
In fact, during our five days in Florence (two of which weren't even in the city), I visited this one four times. Yes, you read that right, four times.
The reason for this is because their gelato is about as perfect as they come. The flavor list is vast. The flavors themselves are intense (in both the chocolate/nut and fruit styles). And the texture, well, the texture of this gelato shop has no equal in the city limits. The creaminess of this gelato cannot be described in words, and in some flavors (like the dark chocolate- my absolute favorite as it is well balanced with bitterness and sweetness), you may have a few moments where you forget you're eating ice cream.
In fact, I got the dark chocolate three out of the four times we visited as well (and regretted not doing so the fourth and final time). As someone who is only mildly into chocolate, even when it is world-class, that is really saying something.
Gelateria dei Neri is located at Via dei Neri, 9 just a couple of blocks north of the Ponte alle Grazie.
Honorable Mention – Gelateria Dondoli
Okay, fine, there is one more gelato shop I have to talk about, and this one is an honorable mention because it is not in Florence proper. Gelateria Dondoli is located in San Gamignano, a Tuscan village located about an hour away from old town Florence.
Why do I mention this one? Well, Gelateria Dondoli is famous for winning the title of Best in the World multiple times over, and visitors flock to this small city almost purposefully to get their gelato. We did so in 2013, and again on our Tuscany day tour six years later (and that is to not take away from San Gimignano either, it has a stunning old town).
To be honest, I would put Gelateria Dondoli almost as an equal to Gelateria dei Neri for the same reasons. Their texture and flavor intensities put them in a league of their own.
I would give Gelateria Dondoli the edge, if only slightly, due to its flavor list. This shop has all the traditional options you can think of, but also features some rather absurd creations you can only find here. Saffron anyone? How about Italian garden (featuring herbs and tomato)? Or maybe grapefruit with Prosseco?
These were some of the flavors we fell in love with at Gelateria Dondoli, and it should be no surprise that I ended up eating eight scoops in my scant 60 minutes here. Worth every bite.
Gelateria Dondoli is located at Piazza della Cisterna, 4 in San Gimignano, Italy- about an hour outside of Florence. Check them out on a Tuscany tour with Walks of Italy! Be sure to allow yourself ~10 minutes here as the lines can get quite long as more tour groups come in.
What is your favorite gelato in Florence? Comment below to share!
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About the Author: Angie is a contributing author. She has been to nearly 60 countries and seeks out the best restaurants, bars, bakeries, and other unique food items wherever she goes- often with her husband, Jeremy.