The dos and don’ts of gelato in Florence (and Lucca)

When I was on the Roman Food Tour last year, the general rule was: ‘If it’s fluffy, it’s fake.’ The ice cream tourist traps tend to be the ones where you have bright coloured gelato piled up in a window, to attract as much attention as possible. In actual fact, the best gelato is kept in hidden containers, covered up, and only revealed when it’s placed on your cone.

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This May, I visited Pisa, Lucca, and Florence (read more about some of the food here), and as in most other Italian cities, gelaterias (or ice cream parlours) were a dime a dozen. There is one on every corner, and each one seems to have more awards than the last. So how are you supposed to choose?!

I firmly believe that bad gelato is a complete waste of calories, which unfortunately happened to us twice. Luckily, we were averaging 4 scoops a day, so we still had our fair share of gorgeous creaminess! But to make sure that you don’t fall into the same traps, I’ve put my favourites below, as well as the ones I recommend avoiding…

The general rule, by the way, is as follows: if there’s a Grom, go there. Every day. Even twice a day. I first found out about this chain when I was in Milan back in 2010, and it hasn’t failed me since. And they’re in just about every Italian city and town!

Pisa: 

See the tower, eat at Gusto Giusto (my opinions on its panini are coming soon), and hop straight on the train to Lucca. You don’t need to spend more than half a day there, which is why we didn’t have any gelato. Try and get an original picture of the Leaning Tower instead…

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Lucca:

Avoid: Cioccolateria Caniparol (the first exception to my rule above). Watery and thin, with not much flavour, please don’t be fooled by the somewhat chic interior and covered ice cream. It’s all a ploy… Walk straight past it. Via S. Paolino, 96, 55100 Lucca

THEY LIE

Looks good, but THEY LIE

Visit: Chiardicrema. Located in the beautifully picturesque Piazza Anfiteatro or the Amphitheatre Square, we stumbled upon this beauty that met our requirement of covering up its wares. The nocciola (hazelnut) was an absolute dream, as was the mango. Piazza Anfiteatro 1, 55100 Lucca

Visit: Grom. We didn’t eat there in Lucca, but we did in Florence. Always a winner. Via Fillungo, 56, 55100 Lucca

GROM AMAZINGNESS

GROM AMAZINGNESS… bacio and yogurt 

Florence:

Avoid: Gelateria della Passera. Tasted artificial and didn’t live up to the cute, hipster interior. Loved the piazza though, so make sure to grab an Aperol or mojito from the nearby Carmen Bar and watch the world go by! 

Visit: Grom. As above… absolutely dreamy. We even cheekily went there for breakfast on our final day in Florence. Convenient central location right near the cathedral! Try the combination of bacio (hazelnut/chocolate) with yogurt – it’s heaven on a cone. Via del Campanile, 2, 50122 Firenze

Visit: Gelateria dei Neri (the second exception to my rule above). Right by the river, this one keeps its gelato uncovered, which would normally be a sign for alarm, but it was absolutely stellar. Great coffee as well, with staff that will educate you on exactly how to describe the coffee you want. Aim for the fruity flavours, as well as the chocolate. Via dei Neri, 9/11, 50122 Firenze

One thing to keep in mind when you’re in Italy is that you should just eat as much gelato as you can. Even though there are some supposedly authentic places in London, you can’t beat having one of these in the Italian sunshine, so why not stock up…?

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Chiardicrema in Lucca, a big winner on our trip!

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