Gelato was invented in Florence and so during my visit to Tuscany, I made it my mission to eat as much Gelato as I possibly could, all in the name of research. I have a particular interest in ice cream as my dad makes ice cream in Kenya. My gelato eating in Tuscany spanned Florence and Pisa as well as the utterly adorable town of San Gimignano, and brought many many smiles to my face.
Gelato has a soft creamy texture and across all the Gelatateria we saw, there was such a vast range of flavours available. You could choose to have them in cones or cups, which they call coppettas. What sets gelato apart from regular ice cream is that there is no air pumped through it. I am not going to bore you with the technicalities though and just say that when in Italy gelato is a must.
Gelato’s history began in the 16th century when it was first created as an innovative entry to a cooking competition hosted by the Medici family. The aim of the contest was to to create “the most unique dish ever seen”. The winner of the competition was a cook called Ruggeri who made this early version of gelato and presented it as “sweet and flavored frozen water.”
An architect called Bernardo Buontalenti later invented a mix of snow, salt, lemon, sugar, egg whites and milk into a container which was the next version of gelato. He had created this in order to impress a delegation of Spanish ambassadors during their official visit to Italy. It proved to be really popular and ever since then gelato has been associated with Florence.
You can literally find Gelaterias on every street in Tuscany and it is the perfect refreshment for the Tuscan sun. The hardest decision was choosing the flavours as they all looked amazing.
Rinaldini is an award winning pastry chef’s dessert shop, where alongside gelato, you can have coffees, cakes and pastries. It can be found on Via dei Banchi 9-11, Florence, Italy and the gelato is superb. It is really close to the Duomo (literally a few steps away).
The gelato is available in the summer months and the owner, Roberto Rinaldini has a particular passion for ice cream, so much so that he has actually won the world ice-cream making championship during his career. Now how cool would it be to be a judge at that!
Antica Gelateria del Corso
This is an Italian brand of ice cream and are dotted around. I tried the banana flavour and it was absolutely superb.
It was just the refreshing kick I needed after lots of sightseeing.
On the side streets adjacent to the Leaning tower of Pisa there are some gelato shops and you can’t go wrong at any of them to be perfectly honest.
Your only issue will be the queues and so I suggest wandering further afar and you will discover some quieter ones.
A visit to the town of San Gimigiano is an absolute must. Its quaint cobbled streets and magnificent views made me fall in love with Tuscany that much more.
We tried two gelato shops during our visit and the first was Caffe Combattenti which was lovely, but not my favourite.
But if you are going to make one gelato pit stop in San Gimignano it has to be Gelateria Dondoli. Former gelato world champion Sergio Dondoli is also a member of Italy’s Ice Cream World Championship team. I am telling you some people have the best jobs in the world!
I was super torn on what flavours to go for and there were unique ones including saffron gelato. I had already had some saffron gelato earlier at a saffron farm, and so I opted for Pistachio instead.
It was epic and a MUST MUST do when in Tuscany. Thank me later!