I love ice cream. And I love gelato. So I knew I’d love Italy! This is not a comprehensive list of all of the gelato flavors I tried (alas, I forgot to write some down… whoops!), but suffice it to say Italy has pretty amazing gelato.
I heard people say before that “you get like a ton of gelato for like one Euro!” and I don’t think that’s true any more – or it wasn’t true where I went! It was more like you get a nice serving for 2-4 Euro, depending on where you are. The chains are more expensive, as are the super-nice gelaterias in Florence, Rome, Venice, etc.
Some things to look for in and know about your gelato:
- You frequently walk by shops that have gorgeous, heaping gelato in freezer cases. Seriously,
it’s the most gorgeous thing ever. Shockingly, that is NOT the best gelato. The best gelato is kept where you can’t see it. You’ll find gelaterias with silver pails to keep the gelato in.
Those are the best! That way, you know it’s made fresh in small batches. The heaping portions on display? Those aren’t small-batch gelato.
- And as gorgeous as the bright colors in the heaping gelato can be, you don’t want gelato that has bright colors, either. I heard a lot of people tell me you can judge a gelateria based on their pistachio – if it’s bright green, walk away. If it’s a brownish color that doesn’t look quite as pretty – dig in! When gelaterias are making gelato that’s most true to artisinal gelato, they’re not using artificial colors and flavors. So you trade off some level of “pretty”
for amazing taste.
- Italians are not like Americans in their preference for “mix-ins” – it’s rare you’ll find many flavors that have lots of things mixed in. And when you do, it tends to be simple things like chocolate chips or cookies.
- Italians are also not as fond of adding tons of stuff to the top of their gelato – you’re not going to find cherries, chocolate sauce, etc for the top!
- I always tried to find gelaterias that were local to the region – chain is ok, as long as it’s a local chain. I asked around in Naples, and was told that Menella, Gay Odin, and Casa Infante were the go-tos, and that even though there are multiple outposts around town, it’s only because the gelato is so good!
My Gelato Flavor Rankings!
- Caramel Peanut (Casa Infante Naples) – So I missed the original name of this, but whatever this was – it was AMAZING. It was a salted caramel, peanut, and chocolate gelato. It was perfect – sweet, salty, just the right number of mix-ins, and amazing!
- Almond (Capo Horn Lecco) – I have become something of an almond gelato connoisseur in Italy. It’s amazing just about anywhere, but Capo Horn in Lecco (Lake Como) was my favorite. They had just the right amount of creaminess, and it was served slightly warmer (just like perfect gelato!)
- Almond & Sweet Wine (Gelateria Il Masgalano Siena) – This was almond PLUS sweet wine and the combination was just fantastic. It was sweeter than just the almond alone, had a bit less almond-y flavor but was AMAZING.
- Pistachio (Capo Horn Lecco) – They say color is a sign of good gelato – the less intense the color, the more real the flavor. So when I saw them pulling the pistachio out at Capo Horn, the brownish color told me it was going to be amazing. The color did not lie.
- Almond (Menella Naples) – Il Menella in Naples was one of the best gelato places I went to. The almond did not disappoint! It was well-flavored – strong but not too strong!
- Lemon Gelato (Amalfi) – I tried lemon gelato in Amalfi – and to note, this is lemon gelato and not lemon sorbet. So it was the perfect balance of tart and sweet and went perfectly with the sunshine in Amalfi!
- Cookies (Gelateria Il Masgalano Siena) – This had biscotti and Nutella (I think) inside of the ice cream – and there was a coffee flavor to boot! It was good, and a good use of mix-ins. I’m starting to realize I don’t always like mix-ins in my gelato!
- Crema Amalfitana (Capo Horn Lecco) – This is another flavor that I’m not totally sure what it is. It’s some sort of light cream with a hint of citrus. It’s amazing.
- Menella Rock (Capo Horn Lecco) – The translation for this was “Cookies and Cream” which does complete injustice to the amazing-ness of Menella Rock. This is not American cookies and cream with bits of Oreo thrown in. No, this is some sort of amazing fudge-swirled cookie goodness with the littlest bits of cookies strewn perfectly throughout. They’re not too hard (so you won’t break your teeth!) but they’re incredibly tasty.
- Mascarpone Honey Walnut (Capo Horn Lecco) – I went out on a limb with this one. I’m not generally big on cheese in my gelato, even if it is mascarpone. It was right to go on the limb. This was amazing! There is something different about the honey here – it tastes so fresh and lovely! This gelato tasted just like the Greek yogurt with honey and nuts in Greece. It was the perfect throwback to Athens!
- Nutella (Gelateria Il Masgalano Siena) – It tasted like Nutella and even had bits of Nutella throughout. Well done!
- Orange Cinnamon Sorbet (Gelateria Il Masgalano Siena) – Super unique – I’d never seen this combo before! The orange definitely overpowered the cinnamon in the best possible way. The cinnamon was there, and was a perfect complement. This was so refreshing! It also tasted perfectly like fall!
- Orange Almond (Capo Horn Lecco) – Oranges, almonds – two amazing things that I thought would be even more amazing together. These were amazing, but to be honest – I think I like them better separate.
- Cinnamon (Capo Horn Lecco) – This tasted like Christmas. Enough said.
- Lemon Cake Gelato (Amalfi) – The Amalfi Coast is known for their lemon cake (which I tried and adored), and when I found it in gelato form, I knew I needed to taste it. This was good, but I found it a bit overly sweet!
- Almond (a href=”http://www.gay-odin.it/”>Gay Odin Naples) – This was my first taste of almond gelato in Italy, and when I tasted it, it blew me away. But then I had other Almond gelato in Italy, and that’s how good the others were – this went down the list!
- Strachiatella (Capo Horn Lecco) – Amazingly good stratchiatella, but not as amazing as so many of the others I had at Capo Horn!
- Hazelnut (Capo Horn Lecco) – This was good, really good! This was sweet and nutty without being overpowering. Perfectly creamy!
- Lemon Sorbet (Gelateria Il Masgalano Siena) – Perfectly tart while also being sweet. Perfectly done.
- Lavender (La Strega Nocciola Florence) – I think this got points from me just for being unique! You don’t often find lavender flavored gelato! It was mild, herbal, and perfectly wonderful. I really liked this one!
- Pistachio (Gelateria Il Masgalano Siena) – Good pistachio gelato! It was amazing had I not had Capo Horn’s version of Pistachio!
- Strachiatella (Sorrento) – The traditional strachiatella is hard to get wrong, and Sorrento got it very right! I think this lost points because it melted so fast I had a very sticky situation. But the gelato was good!
- Salted Caramel (Gelateria Il Masgalano Siena) – There was not enough salt or caramel in this one for me – it was a bit too bland to rank higher, but still good!
- Fior di Latte (Capo Horn Lecco) – Milk cream – simple, delicious, but for me, there are too many flavors to be trying for just the milk cream! But Capo Horn did the milk cream well if you’re looking for something perfectly light and refreshing!
- Nutella (Casa Infante Naples) – I think I would have been so much more amazed by their Nutella had it not been in the cone next to the absolute incredible-ness that was the peanut caramel!
- Chocolate (Capo Horn Lecco) – I think the chocolate alone can tell you so much about a good gelato place. Capo Horn’s was out of this world. But because this is my listing, it went down on the list for being a bit too rich. But if you love chocolate, this is amazing!
- Almond (La Strega Nocciola Florence) – Good, but for me, there wasn’t enough almond flavoring. It was a bit bland, but still good!
- Lemon Sorbet (Grom) – In general, I was saddened by Grom’s gelato. I found a lot of other to be much better. But of their flavors, the lemon sorbet was my favorite!
- Cinnamon Chocolate (Gay Odin Naples) – Cinnamon and chocolate together was a combination I was surprised to see. I’m so glad I tried it, but to be honest, it was just a bit too rich. The chocolate was dark and sumptuous, and the cinnamon had the perfect level of spice, but alas – it was just a bit too much.
- Amarena (Gelateria Il Masgalano Siena) – The sweet cherry was good, but alas, I’m not big on cherries. But my mom actually got this flavor and loved it.
- Strachiatella (Grom) – One of Grom’s better efforts, in my opinion. I have no idea what it is about their gelato, but I just can’t seem to fall in love with it!
- Chocolate Chili (Capo Horn Lecco) – If you like spice, this will rank MUCH higher on your list than on mine! The chocolate was rich and wonderful, but the spice for me was too overpowering.
- Biscotti (Grom) – I went to Grom because Capo Horn closed early one night, and I was a bit disappointed! The Biscotti gelato was good, but the chunks of biscotti in it were way too big, and way too hard! I thought I broke a tooth on one!
- Apple Cake (Grom) – This was the “flavor of the month” and it was a good try. It had cake bits and apple bits and was a bit like apple pie gelato. But the cake bits were a bit mushy and the apple bits were too, so low points on this one!