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!
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 is located behind the Duomo di Milano.
Via Pattari, 2 20122 Milano
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.
Via Santa Margherita, 16, 20121 Milano
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
Piazza del Duomo,Voghera
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.
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.
San Giulio di Orta, Lake Orta
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