Updated: April 11, 2018
Florence Gelato – Good to Know:
- Florence is the birthplace of gelato, and the best place in the world to try this amazing dessert. Though gelato is similar to ice cream, it is not identical. Gelato is made with less fat, churned at a slower rate, and served at a slightly higher temperature, giving it a firmer texture than standard ice cream. Though there are gelaterias on every corner, not all of them offer a quality product.
- The best gelato comes in natural colors, for example pistachio gelato should be pale brown or light (not neon) green, while lemon will be white not yellow. It will also be stored in submerged stainless steel tins (never plastic – bonus points if it has a lid) to keep it at the optimal temperature for taste and texture. Look for the word “artigianale,” for artisanal, meaning that it is made in-house daily, using fresh, quality ingredients.
- Avoid places with crazy mountains of brightly colored gelato; this is a clear sign that the gelato is improperly stored (wrong temperature, too much surface exposure), made with higher fat content (not the correct texture and taste), and made with poor quality, artificial ingredients (bright blue and neon colors are not naturally occurring).
- A great gelato shop that stands behind its recipes will let you sample flavors. Tourist traps don’t. Always try before you buy.
- Try the Buontalenti! This flavor, similar to sweet cream or condensed milk, is unique to Florence, named for the inventor of gelato Bernardo Buontalenti.
- Never settle for just one flavor! Extra-large cones and cups hold up to four big scoops, but even a small cup usually allows two flavors.
The 9 Best Gelato Shops in Florence
1. Perche No! • City Center
Perche No! (Why Not!) handmakes their gelato daily with regional Italian ingredients, such as Bronte pistachios, Langhe hazelnuts, Tuscan rose, and San Gavino saffron along with a few high-quality imports. Their classic gelatos are fantastic, but they are best loved for their creative flavors, like sesame honey, rose, and matcha green tea. They usually have around 6 to 8 vegan and dairy-free choices on offer, too, any of which can be served on top of a gluten-free cone. Located near the Duomo, there is always a line here, but it moves quickly.
2. Gelateria della Passera • Santo Spirito
This hole-in-the-wall shop in Santo Spirito serves a decadent selection of rich, creamy gelato with strong flavors for only €1 per scoop! Flavors change daily depending on what ingredients are in season. Some of the best recurring flavors are hazelnut, chocolate-orange, and Mona Lisa, made with apple, orange blossom, walnuts, and raisins steeped in cognac. Like many gelato shops, there is no seating indoors, but there are a few benches in the little piazza in front.
3. Il Procopio • Sant’Ambrosio
Gorgeous, fresh-made gelato with lots of texture! Il Procopio offers about twenty seasonal flavors daily, with more than 200 recipes in rotation depending on which ingredients are at their peak. Most of their varieties have a generous portion of toppings stirred through the batch, giving each bite a unique crunch. Their award-winning, signature flavor (named after the shop) is an almond gelato with candied orange peel, toasted pistachios, and almond slices. Other popular flavors include a refreshing lemon basil sorbet and sachertorte, with huge pieces of Viennese chocolate cake swirled in. Every cup or cone comes with a baby cone on top. Located in Sant’Ambrosio, a little off the tourist track but well worth the detour.
4. My Sugar • San Lorenzo
This tiny gelateria gets its fresh fruit and herbs daily from nearby San Lorenzo Market. Designed for contemporary palates, their unique selections include rose, black sesame, mango, and mint basil, though guests will always find traditional standbys, such as stracciatella and pistachio. Every flavor is intense, while each bite is incredibly smooth.
5. Cantina del Gelato • San Niccolo
Cantina del Gelato blends the top local and regional Italian fruits, nuts, and dairy with a variety of tropical ingredients from Brazil, especially açaí. They offer classic and modern flavors with an exceptional selection of cheese-based flavors, such as gorgonzola and apple, chèvre and walnut, or mascarpone and Nutella. Their signature flavor is hazelnut gelato with Nutella and almonds, while passionfruit sorbet, black rice, and turmeric fig are their most popular choices. This cozy gelateria sits at the south end of the Ponte Vecchio, just a little away from the crowds.
6. Gelateria dei Neri • Santa Croce
Serving more traditional gelato, this popular shop offers a wide range of flavors, emphasizing classic tastes done insanely well, like salted caramel, pistachio, and dark chocolate. Their huge selection also showcases a few experimental flavors, fresh fruit sorbets, and frozen yogurts. Seasonal offerings include punchy granitas (Italian ices) in the summer months and decadent semi-freddos (like an ice-cream cake/frozen mousse) in the winter. Conveniently located right in between the Uffizi and Santa Croce Basilica, with plenty of seating and always open until midnight.
7. Edoardo • City Center
Stylish, retro-themed gelateria; the first 100% organic gelato shop in Tuscany. Homespun flavors are a mix of traditional and modern, with ingredients such as gianduja (chocolate hazelnut), white wine, lavender, and cinnamon, with several dairy free sorbets and vegan gelatos included. Their irresistible waffle cones are handmade in-house throughout the day. Edoardo is located behind the Duomo and uses a ticket system, so take a number from the machine outside and wait to be called up.
8. La Strega Nocciola • City Center, San Niccolo
A small, Italian chain with two locations in the heart of Florence: one just north of the Duomo and the other on the south end of the Ponte Vecchio. La Strega Nocciola (The Hazelnut Witch) specializes in fresh, cream-based gelato, especially their namesake hazelnut, white chocolate cinnamon, and Buontalenti, though they also make a several amazing sorbets, such as blood orange and bergamot. Each order is topped with a thin, waffle cookie.
• duomo location, San Niccolo location
9. Gelateria La Carraia • San Frediano
This traditional shop boasts 40 flavors of impossibly creamy gelato every day. Tastes here lean heavily toward the classics, with a generous selection of chocolate varieties: milk, dark, white, chocolate chip, chocolate hazelnut, chocolate orange, and chocolate waffle. Rich flavors and great prices (baby cones for €1) keep this place busy, but it’s always worth the wait. Open daily until midnight.
Gelato to Avoid:
- Florence – Best Hotels
- Florence – Romantic Hotels
- Florence – Cheap Hotels
- Florence – Wheelchair Accessible Hotels
- Florence – Pet-Friendly Hotels
- Florence – Best Restaurants
- Florence – Best Bars
- Florence – Best Wine Tours
- Florence – Airport Transportation
- Florence – Getting Around and Driving
- Florence – Rome to Florence
- Florence – Venice to Florence
- Florence – Pisa to Florence
- Florence – Livorno to Florence