Every Italy traveller knows about the more than tempting looking counters of ice cream shops – stuffed with overflowing containers, decorated with fresh fruits, nuts or chocolate – you can literally feel the cream melting in your mouth and if you follow your instinct, you very likely get a scoop there. DON´T!

These places are just eye-catcher, often close to tourist attractions right at the main tourist route, displaying the ice cream in open containers for double of the regular price and poor quality.

How to avoid (gelato) tourist traps in Italy

culinary tour italy, food tour bologna, cremeria stefano, gelato bologna

If you love ice cream and want to get the experience of fresh, handcrafted ice-cream made from best ingredients, you should follow these simple rules:

  • Is there a sign “Gelato artigianale” in the window? If yes, good – this way you can at least be sure the gelato is handmade instead of industrial produced. But handmade doesn’t ensure taste and quality, so have a closer look at the gelateria
  • Do you have to enter the shop? If yes, good – the gelato, the vendor and you are sheltered from the sun
  • Is there a line up of Italians? If yes, good – locals know where to go for the best ice cream (this counts only in the evenings, since Italians usually eat the gelato after dinner on their passegiata (evening stroll)
  • Are there tables to sit down? If no, good – only tourists sit down with ice cream, Italians take it away while strolling along.

culinary tour italy, gelatogelatiero

  • Do you see ice cream when you enter the shop? If no, good – a professional “Gelatieri”  (ice cream maker) uses only fresh milk and fruits/nuts, no preservatives – he won´t expose his gelato to the sun and air, he will always cover the container with a lid and have it cooled down.
  • Do you see a list with precisely described flavours on the wall? If yes, good – Italian gelatieri are proud to use the best ingredients and will let you know that he used pistachio from Brentano, hazelnuts from Piedmont or lemons from Brescia

Why I prefer the local Gelatiero

I know many food traveller are raving for Grom ice cream and I often get asked for my opinion. My answer: sure, Grom produces quality, which is good – but it still is a chain and can afford to open shops in the expensive tourist areas. I personally prefer to taste the gelato at the local producer, at a Gelatiero who makes his living with gelato and who is tied to the town where he and his family live. He will vary his recipes, he will check back with his regular clients – the local and independ ice cream shop is the kind of small business I always intend to support – so don’t wonder that you don’t find Grom gelato shops on my foodie map Italy!