Categories: DessertsFoodie DelightsItaly

A Little Mash Up … It’s Always Gelato-O’Clock in Italy

For no particular reason my mind wandered toward Italian gelato earlier this week, (not an abnormal occurrence in Shannon-land) and as I sat there day-dreaming pangs of nostalgia for Italian ice-cream surfaced and I thought, you know what, I need take this  gelato love-fest out of my head and share it with you.

A case full of pretty gelato flavors in Florence, Italy are all marked and ready to be bought or sampled!

So without further ado, let’s journey through a wee bit of a gelato montage with some Italy and ice-cream facts interspersed for good measure (and if you’ve ever seen the highly inappropriate movie Team America then you can sing the montage song in your head too…which is what I was doing when I wrote this post).

A well deserved pit-stop in Vernazza for gelato after several hours hiking through Cinque Terre, Italy.

Italy ranks as one of my favorite developed-world countries and it really comes down to the eating experiences. In fact, if you ask me, each person reading this should do their stomach a favor and put Italy on the bucket list because the country was made for foodies of all sorts (not just ice-cream-loving-fiends).

Wine, bread, and fresh olive oil on a wine tasting in Florence, Italy.

Meals in the country are filled with fresh pastas, fragrant sauces, garnished with lightly steamed vegetables retaining just the perfect amount of crunch. Then you compliment your delicious meal with a sweet and fruity local wine shipped in from the countryside not more than 50 miles from where you sit and it’s memorable. Even years later it’s memorable.

Not sure I could be any more excited than this for a cone of gelato after a long bike ride in Tuscany, Italy.

See, the meal is just the beginning though, it gets you to the dessert! Because once you’ve eaten your fill of bread and wine you have full permission to indulge in gelato, which is Italian-style ice cream (and don’t worry, calories magically don’t count in Italy, it’s the strangest phenomenom ;-)

Vibrant colors and an assortment of gelato flavors at a shop near the Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Presentation is all a part of the eating experience and I can’t decide if part of why gelato tastes better than American ice cream has something to do with the voluptuous heaps of flavors artfully molded into a beehive shape and sprinkled in fresh berries and fruits. It’s like Christmas for adults – it doesn’t matter which flavor you start with, you get to try them all!

Free samples are part in parcel of the gelato experience when you’re choosing a flavor in Italy!

I know it seems overwhelming, you’re thinking “Shannon, how would I ever choose with all those gleaming mounds of gently melting gelato for the choosing?” I get it; I’m the type of person who can stand in Baskin Robins for 25 minutes pondering the best choice, but take heart because in Italy sampling is permitted and even encouraged!

Pistachio and stracciatella gelato in artful mounds of deliciousness!

My standby gelato flavor is pistacchio, and limone and stracciatella (thinly shaved chocolate in vanilla ice cream) come in as a close seconds and handy backups.  One of those three are always the first flavor of the day when I’m traveling through Italy, and then from there it’s a real struggle to branch out!

On my last trip to Italy, during my RTW, I made it a point to try a new flavor lining the glass cases for my second (and sometimes third) daily gelato.

A ridiculously overpriced $13 gelato in Florence, Italy…buying one that pricey and large was an accident!

One upside to gelato? It’s often served in small scoops and cones, so you’re not really eating that much. The downside? What you are eating is incredibly bad for you – half the butterfat/cream compared to traditional US ice cream but nearly double the sugar content…. Which is why it’s probably a good thing I can only ever afford to visit Italy for a week or two at a time!

Now your turn, what’s your favorite gelato flavor and where’s the best gelato you’ve ever tasted? Trying it in the States counts too if you haven’t made it to Italy yet! :)

This post was last modified on July 22, 2013, 3:07 am