As you may have heard, gelato is serious business is Florence. Florentines have high expectations, and the competition is fierce which has led to some of the finest gelato you could find anywhere. Florence is also the birthplace of gelato where it was first introduced as a treat for nobles in the court of Catherine de Medici. Eventually, the modern gelateria was born and ever since, the locals (and visitors) have been obsessed.
There are four main varieties of gelato that you will find when you take a look at the menu. The first is Chocolate Flavors, there are also Cream Flavors, Fruit Flavors (with dairy), and Fruit Sorbetti (without dairy). Gelato also has the added benefit of containing less fat than traditional American ice cream, so go ahead and have two scoops! And if you're anything like me, you'll probably have it every day you're in town! You will also be given the option of topping your gelato with whipped cream (the good stuff, certainly not out of a can!). The first few times I turned this option down because for some reason I didn't think it would fit with the fresh fruit flavors I was enjoying. Then one day I opted in and realized the error of my ways! The whipped cream is a fantastic addition so go ahead and give it a try. At this point you are probably anxious to know where to sample this delicious treat so without further ado, here are our five favorite places you must try.
Vivoli, the oldest gelateria in Florence, is a firm favorite among locals. There are no cones to be found here, but to be honest, cups are often the best choice since there is no rush to eat as the precious gelato melts down the cone and drips on your fingers. They are known for their dark chocolate and orange flavor, as well as seasonal fruit flavors, and rice (a delicious gelato meets rice pudding).
Leonardo Vestri is a wonderful stop if you can't decide whether you want gelato or chocolate. That is because his shop is devoted to both chocolate and gelato. His family owns a cacao plantation in the Dominican Republican and he sources only the best ingredients - hazelnuts from Piedmont and pistachios from Bronte. Check out one of the 16 seasonal gelato flavors while you're there as they are sure to be different upon your return visit!
Perche No has been serving up fabulous gelato since 1939 and is known for their house specialty - watermelon. I think watermelon has to be possibly the most refreshing flavor for a hot summer day! Here you will find all the classic flavors that you have come to expect, yet they are certainly not afraid to experiment with new flavors. My favorite flavor might have to be rose, a gelato I fell in love with on my honeymoon and have sought out ever since. Bonus: they are also known for their vegan flavors.
Il Procopio's Giancarlo Palmerio enjoys experimenting with new flavor combinations as well. While you're in Florence we recommend you try his flavor La Follia, packed with dried figs, pine nuts, and almonds, as well as the ultra-refreshing lemon & basil if its a particularly hot day.
Grom gets special mention here, as it is a chain that is not unique to Florence but that gives it the added benefit of being a consistently delicious choice no matter where you are in Italy. There are so many inferior 'tourist trap' gelaterias all across Italy, so it is nice to have a great option available to you even if you haven't taken the time to read up on the best gelato in whatever city you're in. I love Grom, and I love that I can get my fix even if I am waiting for a train in Venice. Highly recommend the melon (with whipped cream) and my husband swears by the lemon.