Monday, November 11, 2019

The best gelato of Florence

Dei Neri.

The best gelato of Florence is at Dei Neri.

There. That wasn't so hard was it?

Every study you might find on the Internet of the best gelato of Florence, or Rome for that matter, will include two things, one useless and one useful.

The useless thing is lots of pictures of prepared gelato from the gelateria in question, which will be all pretty and enticing, giving life and appeal to the Internet page, but offering absolutely nothing extra in the evaluation of gelato.

The useful thing will be a warning description of commercial gelato so that one can avoid it. The warning signs are bright colors not natural to the flavor in question, fluffy piles towering magically in their refrigerated counters, and pretty, sugary drama, often all glossily located in a heavily touristed part of town. Well, fair enough, I'm down with that warning cry, though it's maybe not always quite as easy as they make it sound. There is certainly commercial gelato that is more quietly presented, and what after all is the real color of pistachio gelato, or strawberries, or clementines? At my favorite gelateria in the world, Fatamorgana (sorry, in Rome not Florence) I had a bright green mint chip gelato a mere week ago. Nothing like the mint chip ice cream of my youth, it was full of a pure, intense spearmint flavor, the chocolate firm, gentle, and unsweetened, and when I got to the bottom of the cup I only then noticed all the tiny bits of ground up mint leaves flavoring and coloring my exquisite gelato.

So as we go forth here are some extra tips for spotting this real gelato, in an honorable gelateria, without any one of these necessarily being a guarantee, but a couple of them should be enough to do you. Remember, these are the good signs:

1. Nothing rising above the surface of the bin.

2. Covered metal bins where you can't even see the gelato.

3. Claims like "Organic" or "Artigianale".

4. Strange flavors, but of real things, like avocado lime, or fig ricotta.

5. More chocolate flavor varieties than strictly seem necessary (not necessarily my thing, but still...)

6. Lines (the public isn't always right, but it often is enough so in this case).

7. And yes, slightly more muted colors.

If that sounds still a bit tricky here's the easy part: The gelato standard in Florence is supremely high. If you can eliminate, through the above tips, the slightly or very dodgy bad half, you're home free. The good half of gelato in Florence is uniquely wonderful and of a standard higher even than Rome. So dig in.

On the other hand, Florence is not exactly a teeming metropolis. One could just write down my list of gelaterias, and only go to ones on it, not worrying much about which, and all should be well. Walk around a bit and you'll hit a few.

So now that the gelaterias worth considering have been separated out from those to avoid, what are the good ones, I mean, after Dei Neri, the best of them?

Let's save that for tomorrow. I need to rest up. There are quite a few, all of them almost as good.


  1. Chocolate and spearmint? THAT tempts me. Not enough to get me across an ocean, but it does tempt me.

    1. Well, that's always the thing for me too: Is it worth the trip? Tomorrow will feature my favorite gelato flavor of the trip, so perhaps there will be more temptation.


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