The rumors are true: I managed to eat my way through several vats of gelato while I was in Italy. While every cone is a good cone—and I do tend to eat mostly cones in Italy, while I stick to tubs here in the states… I’ll have to think about the significance of that—here are some of the best licks I had while abroad.
You’ve already seen this photo, from Alaska in Venice. I got fig, rose and stracciatella (I think stracciatella is a great way to measure a gelateria’s prowess, so I usually get it as a kind of control flavor.) Alaska’s gelato was excellent but extremely warm—almost semifreddo—which is often a plus, except for the fact we were eating our cones on a 90-degree day with 90-percent humidity so I ended up licking half of the cone off of my hand. Also, I was disappointed they did not have artichoke this day, which I was extremely excited to try.
Gelateria Vernazza, in the Cinque Terre, is, believe it or not, the very first place I ever ate gelato. Not one to mess with tradition, I strolled into the store and ordered exactly the same thing: stracciatella and pistachio con brioche. They were out of brioche for the day so I settled for a cone, which we ate in Vernazza’s adorable little harbor. Even without the brioche, it was just as incredible as I remembered it.
In San Gimignano, Gelateria di Piazza is a must-try, if only to see what is perhaps the best-named gelato flavor in the world: Rosemary Baby. I once again missed a wacky flavor I really wanted to try—gorgonzola—and I can’t for the life of me remember what flavors I got! I know it was good, but it was apparently not that memorable. I do, however, remember an amazing flavor I had here years ago, a grapefruit and prosecco combination that was effervescent even when frozen… it simply sparkled.
All roads lead to Rome and all gelaterias lead to San Crispino, which is kind of like the Vatican of gelato. Even the gladiators ate it. Here, like at the gelateria Grom, the gelato is kept in temperature-controlled canisters for maximum quality control. And no cones here, either. No matter. I had a transcendent flavor combination: honey and hazelnut meringue, which is maybe the most brilliant thing ever to be placed into gelato in history—the bits of meringue dissolve on your tongue as the gelato melts around it. Like sophisticated Pop Rocks.
By this point I truly felt at one with the gelato.
Check out all my Italy photos right over here.