During our trip to Rome, Florence, Siena and Venice, we had the opportunity to sample many, many, many types of gelato. The combination of the miserable heat and abundance of gelato shops meant that we averaged 2 to 3 “gelato breaks” a day. At some point during the trip, I decided to start taking photographs in an attempt to document our favorite flavor combinations. The winner out of this set was the chocolate and coconut (above). Some of the other combinations we tried were: apricot /rice pudding, blueberry/yogurt, and chocolate/pistachio. The key to finding good gelato when traveling is to look for a sign that says “produzione propria,” meaning it’s made on the premises.

img_6380-1.JPGAlthough the gelato in Florence is supposed to be the best, I’ve found that the gelato in Sicily is just as good and in many cases better than the gelato up north (like many things here). One exception was the gelato we had at Vivoli in Florence. It might be overrated (all the guidbooks point tourists there), but the rice-flavored (riso) gelato that we all tried was an experience I’ll never forget! If you love rice pudding, this is the gelato for you! If not, stay away from it because it is actually filled with grains of rice, just like the pudding. It took a minute to get past the strange texture of frozen, cooked rice but once I did, I enjoyed it more than any other we tasted. I tried the riso with fragola (strawberry) at the suggestion of the woman behind the counter. It was good but I wish I had stuck with a full cup of riso (they don’t offer cones at Vivoli). I did see some “riso” flavored gelato when we were in Siena but it didn’t have rice in it and the flavor was horrible.

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  1. Alicat

    My those are some pretty little gelatos you have there. 🙂 There is a place up here in Montana that supposedly makes good gelato — but I tried it and it SUCKED. I also tried their chocolate custard — SUCKED TOO! 🙁 I love love love authentic custard (I’ve only had the good stuff in Wisconsin) but I always imagned gelato to be sort of similar?

    10:15 am  Aug 1st, 2006
  2. elskermeg

    I’ve never had frozen custard. In fact I just googled it to find out exactly what you were referring to! Sounds like Wisconsin is the place to go for Custard and now I want to try it! Gelato is basically like a good american ice cream that is a little softer, a little creamier and a lot better!

    10:24 am  Aug 1st, 2006
  3. sandy

    i am sure this is soooo much better than the stuff in the stores. Have you tried making it? And, I had no idea of all the favors.

    10:17 pm  Aug 1st, 2006
  4. Jessica

    This is definitely the way to do it! Sounds so yummy! And how else would you keep cool? Really I think it was just plain smart to keep eating gelato all day long.
    When I was in Paris, I would try the tartes aux framboises (tarts with yummy custard or cream filling topped with fresh raspberries) every time I saw them displayed in a bakery window. And I found a favorite where I returned at least once more. 🙂
    Also, every time I look at the cone on the far right, I think the coconut is about to take a leap!

    12:54 pm  Aug 2nd, 2006
  5. Dustin

    Is it just me, or is Gelato easier on the digestive system of people who experience occasional lactose intolerance?
    If I have a couple scoops of Ben and Jerry’s, I am not going to be feeling good later, but I can eat buckets of Gelato. Of course, for people who are lactose intolerant, they can opt for granita, which I don’t think you’ll find anywhere besides Sicily…
    My favorite Gelato is arancia, fragola, and watermelon is good, oh, don’t get the kiwi, it taste more like the furry skin it comes in…

    2:04 pm  Aug 2nd, 2006
  6. fiberfetish

    I had gelato in NYC the other weekend. So cool and delicious.

    Also, your photos of food make me so hungry!

    8:23 pm  Aug 2nd, 2006
  7. Elizabeth

    Have you read anything by Mary Taylor Simetti, Clifford Wright or Anna Tosca Lanza? If not, seek them out! You’ll find tourism is the reason so many people writing in English praise the gelato of Florence and Rome above all others; the same visitors are simply not going to Sicily in quite the same numbers. However, once you investigate the history of gelato and culinary history of Sicily, you’ll find out exactly why your suspicions are warranted.

    7:57 pm  Aug 9th, 2006
  8. elskermeg

    Elizabeth, I haven’t read anything by Clifford Wright or Anna Tosca Lanza but I have read Mary Taylor Simetti and I actually got to meet her a couple of years ago. I’ll look into the other two, thanks!

    8:04 pm  Aug 9th, 2006
  9. Andrea

    Siena’s gelato has it’s good and it’s not as good. The riso gelato I had in Siena was amazing! My favorites there were Riso, Pine nut, Cantucci con Vin Santo (a type of italian cookie with an italian wine made from dried grapes), and the ever popular Pistachio. We really did eat gelato three times a day!

    5:28 pm  Jul 20th, 2007
  10. Katie

    Riso was my favorite too!!! I’ve been looking for it at every gelateria since my return home to the US. Pignoli was also great and I adored the violet gelato too.

    1:08 pm  Nov 23rd, 2007
  11. growitgreen

    I love gelato, but it is difficult to find a shop that makes it in my small town in S.C. so, I have to make it myself when I get a craving. I appreciate all of the recipes I can get my hands on. Check out this “cool” article about gelato at

    7:10 am  Jul 18th, 2008
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