How to find the best gelato when traveling in Italy..that is the question!
"But..isn't all gelato good?!" you might ask. Ah...my wee one, you've yet a lot to learn! Yes, I suppose on some level, cold creamy sweetness is always good. But once you taste the real gelato, you won't want to waste a single scoop on "mediocre". Here are 5 ways to make sure you're getting the best gelato while wandering about Italy. (You should probably start taking those notes now...).
1. If it's a mile high, look the other way. I know it's eye-catching. I know it's drool-worthy. And dare I say it, I know it's instaworthy. But the gelato you see in huge mounds towering out of their buckets is simply to put on a show for tourists.
2. Eye candy is for tourists. Yes I know you are a tourist, but no one wants to act like one. Keep your eye out for whole half coconuts tucked into the corner, entire candy bars decorating the top, whole strawberries adorning the fluffed-up goodness, gelato colored like a pop star. Gelato shops (aka Gelaterie) will add these things to draw more attention- but the best stuff doesn't need any added glamour.
3. If it sparkles, it's not your best friend. If there are actual ice crystals on the gelato, definitely steer clear! Sometimes you see gelato that looks a bit slick and shiny on the surface. My friend Giuseppe once explained to me that when it has too many artificial ingredients and too much sugar, it rises to the surface as it sits, giving it a dull glaze. Real gelato is natural..have faith and keep searching! (Chances are there are 5 gelaterie within the next 2 blocks anyway!)
4. Stick to the masters. A bar that sells gelato is likely ..a bar that sells gelato. You want the GELATERIA..the people who have made it their pure passion to produce the best darn gelato history has seen [tasted]! As our friend Fabrizio says, "Chi fa un buon gelato fa solo quello!" or "He who makes good gelato does only that!".
5. Only one way to find out..give it a taste! If you're not quite sure, ask for a taste: "Potrei assagiare (name of the flavor)?" In really popular cities they'll sometimes refuse free tastes as there are too many people to handle (but that's why you travel off-the-beaten-path with Creative Edge, right!?) ;)
"Ok, so no tall heaps, no bright colors, no weird shininess, and no bars..what do I look for?" Here are a few tips:
If it's covered with a metal lid, they don't even need to show it off (ie. they know their product is good). If the shop has a certificate showing their expertise and quality of ingredients, all the better. If the people going there seem like locals, score again! If it's out of the way, but there's a line at the door, high five. If all else fails, ask a local!
Bonus Tip: In Italy, you can usually get 2 - 3 flavors for each gelato you order. I've noticed you usually get more of the second flavor you ask for. Naturally, you'll say the flavor you're most sure of first, but if you leave it for second place, you'll get more of your favorite! (..did I just take that to a whole new level? Yes, I think I did!)