The one question we always get asked in summer is this. Where can you taste the best ice cream in Florence? That authentic artisanal gelato that you’ve heard so much about. Well, we’ll tell you.
Ice cream is an institution in Italy, and Florence shares this national passion with conviction. Our first tip : stay away from those ultra-vivid gelato mountains that are served in some bars, and follow our lead. Whether you like the traditional simple flavours like cream of pistacchio, or you want to try something more daring like lemon and basil or cheesecake and cookies, you won’t be disappointed!
Best ice cream in Florence and where to find it
At La Carraia close to the river Arno, they have a great selection of flavours to choose from, from the classics to some special ones like orange chocolate, a delightful combination. This place is a favourite with locals and visitors. Top marks for quality and location (address: Piazza Nazario Sauro 25/red, near Ponte alla Carraia).
Vivoli is an institution for the Florentines. Latteria Vivoli was open in 1929 , and after a few years it started making gelato, a time when fridges weren’t a thing and they had to buy (and bring back) ice from the Apennines. Vivoli is even mentioned in a popular Florentine folk song by local minstrel Riccardo Marasco. Along with your gelato, you’ll be tasting a piece of Florentine history (address: Via Isola delle Stinche 7/red, Santa Croce area).
Sbrino Gelatificio Contadino is a delicious spot (in Via dei Serragli 32red), with friendly staff, amazing granite and top-quality ice cream.
Procopio in via Pietrapiana is a must. Friendly staff, original experimental flavours that frequently change, reasonable prices. (Address: Via Pietrapiana, 60/red).
You find La Strega Nocciola near the Duomo, a small artisanal gelateria that has a selected choice of flavours. Unforgettable, creamy and unique. (Address: Via ricasoli 16/red).
We agree with the expert opinion of the Garbero Rosso guide’s food critics, who give top marks to the small Gelateria della Passera, with top quality ice cream made with the freshest local ingredients (try the fruit flavours!). It’s in Via Toscanella 15/red, in the Oltrarno.
=> Check out this Evening Walking Tour of Florence (with gelato!) led by an expert guide: see the main sights, learn about the Medici family and round off the evening with a delicious ice cream at one of the city’s best gelateria!
Outside the city centre
Outside the city centre, Badiani in Viale dei Mille nr. 20 is among the most famous of Florence’s gelaterie. People come from all over to try their traditional crema Buontalenti (a simple and mouthwateringly-delicious cream flavour created for a competition some decades ago).
Gelateria Carapina in Piazza Oberdan, has received praise from food critics and locals.
Not just ice cream. Try a ghiacciolo.
We absolutely love the ghiaccioli (lollipops) made by La Bottega del Gelato in Via Por Santa Maria, just before you get to the Ponte Vecchio. They serve artisanal ghiaccioli – fresh fruit on a stick, with no sugar added. Pure freshness and delicious at any time of day!
Outside Florence – An award-winning gelato in San Gimignano
If you travel to the hilltop town of San Gimignano, you’re in for a sweet treat. San Gimignano is famous not only for its 14 Medieval towers, but also for the Gelateria Dondoli, overlooking the scenic Piazza della Cisterna.
This ice cream parlour is frequently shown on national and international television and visited by celebrities. Master Sergio, who has created unusual flavours such as Crema di Santa Fina (cream with saffron and pine nuts), Champelmo (pink grapefruit and sparkling wine) and Vernaccia Sorbet – all trademarked flavours! – won the prestigious MAM (Maestro d’Arte e Mestiere) Prize.
Did you know? Gelato and the Medici
Florence had an important role in the history of ice cream. Going back to the 16th century, we discovered that Bernardo Buontalenti, an architect and engineer working for the Medici family, the Gran Dukes of Florence, came up with a special dessert during a banquet organised for the Spanish delegation. He served a frozen cream made with eggs, milk, honey and a bit of wine, starting a new trend, a step forward from the simpler sorbet.
In many Florentine gelaterie you’ll find the delicious crema Buontalenti, in honour of this man of great taste! This traditional flavour is also known as crema fiorentina, or ‘Florentine cream’.