The wonderful world of Italian gelato

Adam Jones | 23/11/2018
Italian Gelato. Lemon Gelato. Strawberry Gelato. Banana Gelato.
Lemon, Strawberry and Banana Gelato

There’s a good chance that you’re familiar with the Italian word gelato. You’ve probably even tasted it. What is gelato though? What makes gelato different from ice cream and other frozen treats you enjoy at home? Let’s dig into the delicious world of gelato italiano to find out.

Italian gelato is synonymous with Italian ice cream. It’s a form of ice cream made in an Italian style. Gelato tends to be artisanal —  it’s made in small batches with fresh ingredients, and fewer chemicals and preservatives. Some gelateria claim that true gelato must be made fresh on a daily basis, though it isn’t made this way all the time.

Freshness isn’t the only difference that distinguishes gelato from other ice creams. It tends to have less fat, less air, and is served at a warmer temperature than other ice creams. This contributes to gelato’s famously smooth and creamy texture. 

Gelato’s base ingredients are milk and sugar. Artisans then add fruits, nuts and other ingredients — often adapted to what’s in season locally. 

Gelato flavors range from the intensely fruity to nutty. Chocolate, mint, cinnamon and coffee also make appearances. Some flavors may be less familiar — for example Fior di Latte (sweet cream), Cioccolato all’Azteca (cinnamon and hot pepper infused dark chocolate) or Malaga (rum raisin). 

Gelato Bar. Italian Gelato.
Gelato Bar

So where do you find the best gelato in the world? 

Italy is certainly the best place to start. There are regulations ensuring that the dessert is made with at least 3.5% butterfat. Italy is also known for its remarkable selection of fresh artisanal gelato. 

What about the best gelato in Rome? Many experts agree that Neve Di Latte is among the best of the best. The proprietor, Simone Romano, has been described as producing some of the best gelato the city has ever seen.

Tips for ordering gelato in Italy

A frequent question you might hear is “Vuole la panna?” This is the server asking if you want your gelato topped with fresh cream. First decide whether you want a piccolo (small), medio (medium) or grande (large) cona (cone) or coppa (cup).

Now you’ll be all set to say to your travel companions: “Shall we pick up some gelato on the way home?” We hope that you enjoy indulging in your sweet tooth and sampling some of the best flavors that Italy has to offer.