Hungry? Top Gelato Spots in Lombardia

gelato in Italy, @PennySadler 2013

A perennial favorite, gelato seems to taste so much better when I’m in Italy than anywhere else. I sometimes go to a shop in Dallas that was started by a family from northern Italy, but it’s just not the same. I was told by an Italian friend it’s because in Italy, gelato is made fresh from scratch every day.

I think it might be at least a little bit that when you’re on vacation, everything tastes better. Or maybe it was because it was unusually hot in Lombardia when I was there? There’s nothing quite as delicious as a fresh, cold gelato to revive you. Whatever the reason, I gave in to the urge to eat gelato almost every day while I was in Italy a few weeks ago. I wish I had eaten more!

Here’s the scoop (pun intended) on where I ate gelato:

Top Milan Gelaterias:

Vanilla specializes in traditional Italian flavors like hazelnut, pistachio, chocolate, and pinoli. During the summer, they offer local and unique fruit flavors, too, such as prickly pear, goji berry, pomegranate, and mango.

Another unique ingredient used at Vanilla that I’ve never seen anywhere else is olive oil. The olive oil replaces the dairy and so is great for those who are lactose intolerant and have other digestive ailments. And, it’s good for your heart – why not have gelato every day?

I spent several hours wandering around near the Duomo in Milano, and noticed that Vanilla always had a line. Plus they had some pretty little bistro tables set with lace and umbrellas, and I was ready to sit down. Most gelaterias have no seating inside or out – you simply stand around outside, or walk away with your gelato.

I tried the coconut and watermelon. I often order coconut, but this was my first watermelon gelato. If you can taste summer in a food, watermelon would be it for me, it’s sweet and refreshing, and watermelon gelato – yum!

Vanilla Gelato, Milan Italy &#64:PennySadler 2013

I noticed most everyone took their gelato in a cone, but I always get it in a cup. I think I agree with the purists that the cone distracts you from the true flavor of the gelato. At Vanilla, the flavors are so crisp and true, I don’t want anything interfering.

The fellow in this photo knew what I was up to with my camera and gave me a clear shot. Thank you, kind stranger!

Vanilla Gelateria, Milan Italy @PennySadler 2013

Vanilla is located behind the Duomo di Milano.

Vanilla Gelateria
Via Pattari, 2 20122 Milano
vanilla-gelateria-italiani.it

Grom gelateria, Milan, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Grom has built its reputation on using only organic, fresh ingredients from around Italy: Sfusato lemon from Amalfi, and the Leonforte peach, for example. They have a central farm where all the raw ingredients are mixed, ensuring their high standards are met.

I did not eat gelato at Grom, but if the crowd of people outside is any indication, I’d give it a try next time. They started with one shop in Torino in 2003, and have since expanded all over the world. You can eat Grom gelato now in Paris, Tokyo, Malibu, and NYC. They must be doing something right!

There are seven locations in Milan alone, and of course there’s one near the Duomo di Milano. In case you’re wondering, Grom is the surname of one of the founders.

Grom
Via Santa Margherita, 16, 20121 Milano ‎
 grom.it

Britz gelateria, Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Gelato in Voghera:

Britz. We went to Britz one night when it seemed like the entire town was out for the evening. Within two blocks I saw more gelaterias than you can imagine! Apparently gelato is the thing in Voghera.

My friend had the chocolate and hazelnut (two typical Italian flavors) and pronounced it “Very good!” I tried the lemon sorbetto and found it a bit too tart and lacking the creamy texture I was seeking. What do I know? Perhaps I just ordered the wrong thing?

The location in Piazza del Duomo, however, is excellent. There is no seating inside, but it’s more fun to be outside and people watch anyway. In Italy everyone goes out in the evening to walk (passeggiata) and visit with friends, family, and neighbors. It’s an experience you cannot duplicate anywhere else in the world.

Do you think the folks in the photo are wondering if the people to their left are checking out what flavor they got? LOL

Britz Gelateria
Piazza del Duomo,Voghera

Mojito Cafe, gelato colors @PennySadler 2013

gelateria, San Giulio di Orta, Lake Orta, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Gelato in Orta San Giulio:

Mojito Cafe. Here I found the lemon sorbetto (limone) I craved. I don’t know how they do it, because I don’t think they add any dairy as it’s a fruit flavor, but it was creamy, yet light – sweet, but not too sweet. I adore lemon sorbetto in Italy. I should have taken a larger serving!
An Italian friend told me, “You are an Italian girl,” because limone is the most Italian of flavors. (Those Italian guys always know what to say)

The location in romantic Lake Orta didn’t hurt, either…probably made it taste even better. I’ll certainly never forget it.

This gelateria with the improbable name offers drinks and coffees as well as gelato, and there is seating outside. However, there is a minimum of 7 euros per person to sit at a table. When we were there it was raining and every table was taken. We found a doorstep on a tiny side street and sat under the awning.

Gelato flavors from Mojito Cafe @PennySadler 2013

I don’t have an address or website for Mojito Cafe, but there’s only one main street in Orta San Giulio – you can’t miss it.

Mojito Cafe
San Giulio di Orta, Lake Orta

All materials ©PennySadler 2013. All rights reserved.

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Postcard: Duomo di Milano

Milano Duomo, Italy, @PennySadler 2013

As with all incredible wonders, there are stunning moments and bits of blase. I felt both, on a recent visit to the Duomo di Milano.

When you’re in Milan, take the metro to Piazza del Duomo. As you walk up the steps you’ll see it before you reach the top of the stairway. My first thought upon seeing the Duomo was, “Holy shit!” It’s unbelievably wonderful.

The duomo is the center of a buzz of activity: tourists with their cameras and umbrellas, musicians busking in the shadow of the duomo, businessmen and women hurrying by, oblivious to the beauty around them – and of course those nasty pigeons that seem to flock around every major monument.

The Duomo was conceived to be the largest church in the world, and took centuries to complete. There are over 135 spires, 95 gargoyles, and 3,159 statues illustrating stories from the Bible, the construction of the Duomo, and the history of Milan. You could study this church for a lifetime. If you’re like me, your eyes will never rest for more than thirty seconds on any one detail; instead, darting from one scene to the next, trying (unsuccessfully) to make sense of it all.

The inside? Meh. I’ve been inside a lot of churches in Italy (churches being one of my favorite forms of architectural and artistic expression), and the inside of the duomo is dark and danky – depressing really – quite a contradiction to the outside. There are a couple of tables set up as stand in altars for those who wish to light a candle, and scaffolding everywhere. There is a lift parked inside (the place is massive), and the glass pyramid gift shop just seems weird and distracting. I read that there are some important works of art inside, but I wasn’t motivated to seek them out.

I am not a huge fan of religious art, therefore I rarely go around trying to see all the things that are supposed to be so fab…because in Italy, everything is fab! I just go for what I like and I don’t like dark, so I was done with the inside the minute I stepped in, but forced myself to walk through. One regret, I wish I’d taken the lift to the top. I went to lunch instead. LOL

After a quick walk around the entire interior perimeter, I couldn’t wait to get back into the Italian sunlight and the drama in the piazza – one of the best people watching spots in the world, dominated by one of the most impressive and grandest churches in the world.

Tips for visiting the Duomo:

There is a strictly enforced dress code. No tank tops, shorts, short skirts, or dresses. I saw a young guy in a tank top turned away, and I was stopped for an inspection of my hemline (that was a first!).

Entrance is free for individuals, but there is a fee for groups.
Though there are a gazillion people and you think you’ll wait in line forever, it moves very quickly.

If you want to take photographs inside, pay 2 euros for a wristband.

You can also visit the rooftop and walk amongst the spires. There’s a small fee of 13 euros if you take the elevator, and 7 euros if you chose to walk the 250 steps to the top.

All materials copyright Penny Sadler 2013. All rights reserved.