Some people go to Florence and Tuscany for the art and history, some for the food and wine and others for the shopping. Whatever your reason for visiting, the one thing that you should not miss is the Gelato.
The exact origins of gelato are a bit of a mystery as some credit the ancient Egyptians, Chinese emperors, Alexander the Great or the Romans for being the inventors, but what everyone generally agrees is that the modern gelato, as we know it, began in the 16th century in Sicily when a cook of a noble family added milk to a mixture of ice and flavouring. It was an instant hit and gelato became a culinary rage. Supposedly Catherine de Medici of Florence had the finest collection of recipes in all of Italy and as a result, even today, people look to her city for revolutionary gelato.
How does gelato differ from ice cream? Primarily it is much lower in fat. Cream is never used. Low-fat milk is preferred as it is much less dense in texture. Less air is pumped into the final mixture and it is cooled at a lower temperature so it is less frozen to allow more robust flavours to emerge.
When you enter the gelateria the first thing you do is pay for your order. One, two, three or four scoops are served in a take-away bowl with a spoon; you are also able to get cones, but you are better off with the bowl in order to get as many different flavours as possible. You then hand your receipt to the server behind the counter and let the selections begin!
This self-guided walk will bring you to some of the top gelaterias in Florence and therefore, some would argue, the world. Perche No? (Via dei Tavolini, 19) Bar Vivoli Gelateria (Via Isola delle Stinch, 7) and Carabe Gelateria (via Ricasoli, 60)
Begin at Perche No?, literally translated as “why not?”. This gelateria has been around since the 1940s and has a large selection of different gelatos. It is located in the heart of the walking district of central Florence at Via dei Tavolini, 19-red 50122 Florence. From here, after you have made your selections, we will walk to Bar Vivoli Gelateria.
1. Head east on Via dei Tavolini toward Via de' Cerchi
2. Turn right at Via de' Cerchi
3. Turn left at Via della Condotta
4. Turn left at Piazza di San Firenze
5. Slight right at Via della Vigna Vecchia to Via dell'Isola delle Stinche
The walk from Perche No? to Bar Vivoli Gelateria is about 5 minutes
Bar Vivoli Gelateria is located in the San Croce district at Via dell'Isola delle Stinche, 7, 50122 Firenze, an area of narrow streets, small piazzas and shops, which serve the local community rather then tourists on the whole. Vivoli on the other hand attracts large crowds and its walls are covered with press clippings and photos of the people who have enjoyed its world famous gelato. Again after our selection of gelato we will walk to our last stop Carabe Gelateria
1. Head northeast on Via dell'Isola delle Stinche toward Via Ghibellina
2. Continue onto Via Matteo Palmieri
3. Continue onto Piazza di San Pier Maggiore
4. Continue onto Volta di San Piero
5. Turn left at Via Sant'Egidio
6. Continue onto Piazza di Santa Maria Nuova
7. Continue onto Via Maurizio Bufalini
8. Continue onto Via dei Pucci
9. Turn right at Via Ricasoli
The walk from Bar Vivoli Gelateria to Carabe Gelateria is about 11 minutes
Carabe Gelateria is owned by a Sicilian family who prides their gelatos as been made with authentic techniques and ingredients. Carabe Gelateria is located at Via Ricasoli, 60, 50122 Florence, just south of the Galleria dell’Accademia, which houses David.
This is by all means not the end for your self-guided tour of the gelaterias of Florence. These three gelaterias are just the starting point. Who knows, your favorite gelato could be from the espresso bar just around the corner from any of these gelaterias.