How To Get The Best Gelato In Italy

If you are traveling to Italy anytime soon (or ever!) there are 3 things you can pretty much guarantee you will eat at least one time while you are away.

Pasta. Pizza. Gelato.

Some people are lucky enough to have a digestive system and a metabolism that lets them run wild with all three, others of us have to be selective as to how many times we can indulge while away. Whether you fall into the once only category or the multi times per day group, you have to make every time count.

Today we are talking gelato, Italy’s answer to but 1000 x better than, ice cream.

lemon gelato in Capri Italy
Lemon gelato in Capri. Not to be missed!

So what’s so hard about ordering ice cream you say? Well, there’s a little more to it than meets the eye.

It Starts With Where You Buy Gelato

This is in my opinion the most important factor when getting a gelato.

With tourism being so huge in Italy (it is one of the most visited countries in the world) gelato chains started popping up everywhere. Mass made, factory made ice cream with added color, added sugars, added God-only-knows-what. Chain store gelato doesn’t taste as good and can be so over sugared that it bites the back of your throat. As authentic as a Big Mac and with a provenance and nutritional value equally as questionable, these are not the places to buy gelato in Italy.

Their gelato either ships in frozen or is made from a packet. This is not the gelato you traveled across the world to eat!

Gelato franchises/chains are always scattered through the high tourist areas and are generally very close to major tourist attractions. If you have read my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) then you already know to avoid tourist trap eateries of any kind!

RELATED POST: HOW TO ORDER COFFEE IN ITALY

Always Buy Artiginale

Everywhere you go in Italy you can find fantastic, artisanal or artiginale gelato shops. These are owner operated stores where gelato is made freshly each day from fresh ingredients. The taste, texture and quality are superb. Think of it as chain store gelato being like eating Kentucky Fried Chicken versus artisanal gelato being like fine dining. Technically both will fill your belly but the experience is drastically different!

Buon Gusto artiginale gelato in Pienza Italy
Inside Buon Gusto gelateria in Pienza, Italy

Artisanal gelato flavors tend to be only what is in season. You won’t find strawberry year round.

Some artisanal shops only make a handful of flavors each day. In Pienza my friend Nicola’ from Buon Gusto makes only 6 flavors per day. When I take my Glam Italia Tour groups to Pienza I have learned to take them to his store when we first arrive, because we only spend a few hours in town and everyone always wants to go back for another gelato before we leave!

Explore the Flavor Profiles

Artiginale gelato shops offer some really fascinating flavor combinations. Don’t order the flavors you do at home – try something different! Look for things like raspberry and rosemary, peach and sage, figs and honey.

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They always offer samples so you can try before you buy. I find the more unusual the flavor combination (unusual to us, quite normal to them) the more amazing the gelato is. I always try anything with lavender, sage, basil or rosemary as they give such a fantastic flavor to gelato.

strawberry gelato italy
Gelato made with strawberries and basil.

On one of my tours one of the travelers tried orange,carrot and spinach gelato, the thought of which wasn’t overly enticing, but it was so incredibly good we all ended up going back and ordering one!

Gelato from Buon Gusto in Pienza
The one in back is the spinach and carrot gelato. As awful as it sounds it was actually sensational!

Mix It Up

Can’t decide which flavors to order? Try a scoop each of two or three!

Don’t be surprised if they refuse to pair the flavors you want or if they look at you funny. They get so invested in their creations and your taste experience is so important to them that sometimes they won’t want to put two flavors side by side.

gelateria Teatro, rome
white peach with sage and raspberry with rosemary gelato at Gelateria Teatro in Rome

One time in Sorrento a gelato guy refused to give me 2 flavors together. It was pretty funny! I couldn’t decide between the two so in the end he gave me 2 separate cups each with one flavor, then told me which one I was to eat first. He wasn’t being a jerk, it was because he didn’t want me thinking his gelato flavors were bad.

I go back every time I’m in Sorrento, which is multiple times per year, and now he just chooses two flavors that play nicely together for me. And I feel no guilt at having two scoops either, because the walk up the hill to the apartment I rent there is savage, so I’m convinced I burn it all off on the way home…

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How Can You Tell If It’s Artiginale?

Most artisanal or artiginale gelato shops will proudly post signs saying they are artiginale/artisanal. You can also just google artiginale gelato near me and get walking directions, invariably just around the corner from where you’re standing!

An easy way to tell if gelato is artisanal or not is to just look at it. Chain store/mass made/made from a packet gelatos tend to have punchy, bright colors, whereas artisanal gelato colors tend to be more dull.

artisanal pistachio gelato in Volterra, Italy
Real pistachio gelato will be a slightly dull shade of green

Gelato made with fresh strawberries will be a slightly dull pinkish hue, whereas mass market strawberry gelato will be bright pink. Another one to look for is pistachio, a flavor you will find year round. Artisanal pistachio gelato will be a dull, mossy or grey/green whereas mass market pistachio will be a vibrant green.

Have you read my books yet? Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) and Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things to Do in Rome: Beyond the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps are both available worldwide in paperback and on Kindle and the Kindle App. Both books are bestsellers and will change the way you experience travel in Italy!

Look For Locals

The best gelato shops are like the best little local eateries – heavily populated by Italians. Watch where they go, and buy your gelato there! Sometimes you will see long lines of people stretched out across the piazza waiting to buy gelato. At Dondoli Gelato in San Gimignano the lines get crazy long and sometimes stretch beyond the well in the middle of Piazza Cisterna, but the gelato is award winning and is definitely worth the wait. Funnily enough the café across from it also sells gelato and never has a line. Those in the know prefer to wait and have the good stuff.

This tends to be a really good sign, unless it is a bus tour and that’s where the tour guide told them to go. Bus tour groups are generally easy to spot though – if everyone in line looks like a tourist, this is not the place for you to be!

If you can’t spot a good gelato shop don’t worry – ask a local. There is always a good gelato shop close by.

Rail Europe (Americas)

Porticus of Octavia ~ Why You Need To See This Site In Rome

One of the things I love so much about Rome is that you can turn almost any corner and find yourself in the midst of some incredible set of ruins dating back to before Christ. Sometimes long, long before Christ.

Each of them seem to have a fascinating story behind them, and frequently you can trace that story across millennia to where we are now.

One of these sets of ruins dating back 2200+ years sits smack bang in the middle of Rome, mere minutes’ walk from the Forum, and although there will be literally thousands of people just up the street, you’d be lucky to find more than a dozen people wandering around and taking photos right here.

The Porticus of Octavia in Rome
The Porticus of Octavia in Rome dates back 2200 years

This is the Porticus of Octavia. It is immediately next door to the Teatro Marcello and leads you straight into the Jewish Ghetto, where you can stop for a glass of wine and some artichokes or maybe just a quick coffee on your way to somewhere else.

If you have my book Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things to Do in Rome: Beyond the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps you can find more information as well as a guide to what’s in walking distance from here in the Ancient Rome section.

A Very Ancient History

Back in 179 B.C a temple to the Goddess Juno was built on this site. Then in 146 B.C a temple to Jupiter Stator was built right next to it, and the two were enclosed in the Porticus Metelli.

Fast forward 120 years and Emperor Augustus decided it was time for some renovating and gave the complex a rebuild, naming it for his sister Octavia. This is the structure we see now.

The Teatro marcello in Rome dates back to before Christ
The Teatro Marcello in Rome may well have been the prototype for the Colosseum. It was built just down the road, 84 years prior.

Octavia was the mother of Marcellus, namesake of the theater next door.

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Murder In The Family

Just to make things even more interesting, Augustus’ wife Livia is thought to have killed Octavia’s son Marcellus to knock him out of the running to be Emperor. Basically everyone who potentially came between her own son Tiberius and the  job of emperor mysteriously died, including in the end Augustus himself.

I go into this in the book – the story is fascinating and Livia is one of the two villainesses in my history of Rome. Of course there were more than two, but I give you one from ancient Rome and one from Renaissance Rome.

The Temples And The Art

In its time this must have been an incredible sight to see. The Teatro Marcello and the Porticus of Octavia with the two temples would have all been gleaming in the sunshine, bright white travertine.

Porticus of Octavia Rome
In its day the Porticus of Octavia would have been all gleaming white travertine. Columns form the two temples dating back 2200 years still remain.

We know from Pliny the Elder’s book A Natural History, that both the porticoes of Octavia and Metelli as well as the two temples were full of art. Statues and frescoes were abundant, and the entire area would have been beautiful.

Octavia also built a library, curia and lecture halls in this complex.

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A History of Fires

There were two notable fires here, the first in 80 A.D and was repaired by Domitian. Then in 203 A.D there was another fire which had repairs done by Septimus Severus and his maniac son Caracalla. There is an inscription along the top that names both and also says Incendio Corruptum Rest, which means restored after a fire.

Inscription on the Porticus of Octavia tells of a rebuild by Septimus Severus and his son Caracalla after a fire
The inscription across the front of the Porticus tells of the rebuild after the fire.

In 442 A.D an earthquake felled the original columns along the front, which were then replaced by the arch you see now.

The Middle Ages

After the fall of Rome the beautiful Porticus of Octavia fell to ruin and became a fish market, remaining so until the late 19th century. In 770 A.D the church of Sant’ Angelo in Pescheria was built in the back of the ruins, Translated in means Church of The Holy Angel In The Fish Market

RELATED POST: 15 BOOKS SET IN ITALY TO READ BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

In my book Glam Italia! 101 fab I give you a breakdown of everything you are seeing and show you some incredibly cool details to look for, such as which stones are B.C and which correspond to the various centuries A.D.

You are also mere steps away from one of my favorite eateries in Rome, where I have spent endless evenings dining al fresco and tourist free. It’s all in the book – order your copy from Amazon today!

Want something else that’s really cool to do in Rome? I have a Free PDF of the Best Rooftop Bars In Rome. These are places with gorgeous views and wonderful drinks. Any of them are the perfect place to end a long day of sightseeing, taking in the sunset, the view and an icy cold Prosecco! Download your Best Rooftop Bars In Rome PDF HERE

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Plane Gorgeous ~ How To Look Fabulous When You Land

Stand at the arrivals gate watching international travelers pushing their luggage carts through and you will notice most people look hungover after a long flight.

Their skin is grey, hair is all over the place, clothes are crumpled and they look well worse for wear.

But you don’t need to. After an entire lifetime of flying around the world, half the time having to bounce off the plane and straight in to a business meeting, a shoot or a dinner party, I’ve learned some tricks to help you look lovely after a long flight.

Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy available in paperback and digital on Amazon.com. Bestseller Italy travel guide

Hydrate During Your Flight

That grey skinned, beat up look that most flyers get comes from dehydration. Every hour you are flying the friendly skies you are losing an extra glass of water, so the trick is to keep hydrating before, during and after your flight.

It doesn’t hurt to add in some electrolytes from a hydration packet or an EmergenceC either.

RELATED POST: HOW TO SLEEP ON A PLANE – 10 TIPS FOR SUCCESS

This post contains affiliate links. Should you purchase anything through these links a (very) small commission will be paid to this blog to help offset the hosting costs.

Fly Makeup Free

Maybe you don’t want to cavort through the airport with a bare face, but either arrive with no makeup on or remove your makeup with some facial wipes once you take off. Wipes are notoriously destructive to the area around the eyes, so go easy on mascara that morning or don’t wear any. If you do have eye makeup on you do need to remove it gently.

Don’t fly overnight with mascara on. Even if you don’t sleep you will probably snooze a bit/go into twilight sleep, and those long luscious lashes you boarded with will look like morning after drunk girl lashes.

Facial Spray

makeup artist favorite Caudalie Beauty Elixir spray in travel size
Makeup Artists and customers alike have turned Caudalie Beauty Elixir into a cult favorite

Invest in a travel sized facial spray and spritz your skin throughout the flight. It feels nice, and helps your skin stay hydrated. Recommended product Caudalie Beauty Elixir is available in travel size at Sephora.com

RELATED POST: BUSINESS TRAVELER TRICKS – 10 Things To Know Before You Fly

Complexion Superfood

Apply a supersonic moisturizer either before your flight or after takeoff (depending on whether you board with makeup on). Weleda Skin Food is one of the most amazing deep moisturizers ever. Even after a 12 hour flight you will deplane with a glowy complexion.

Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask is perfect for travelers
Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask is the perfect travel companion.

Another option is Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask. It wears like an intense moisturizer while you fly and leaves your skin beautifully prepped when you land. All three Summer Fridays Masks are available at Sephora.com

Keep Your Under Eyes Hydrated

The skin under your eyes dries out faster than any other skin on your body, so needs some extra loving if you are going to arrive looking fabulous. My latest favorite under eye product when I fly is this Cooling Water stick by Milk. It comes in a travel size and not only hydrates but has a very cooling effect as well.

Milk Makeup Cooling Water is the perfect undereye product when you travel. Hydrating and cooling it is ideal for long flights
Milk Makeup Cooling Water is the perfect travel companion. It both hydrates and cools tired under eyes, leaving your skin fresh and nourished. Available at Sephora.com

Allowing for the fact that every surface on a plane is a germ-fest I love that this particular product comes as a wind up stick, so your fingers don’t have to pollute your jar of expensive eye cream. It is the perfect travel companion.

Keep Your Lips Luscious

Another sign of dehydration is grey, cracky lips. Avoid this my using a good hydrating lip balm. I love the little round EOS lip balms. They travel well, don’t dry out and make your lips more cracked, aren’t too waxy, and if you apply a couple of times during your flight you will arrive with soft, lipstick ready lips.

RELATED POST: HOW TO PACK A SUITCASE LIKE A PRO

Before You Land/When You Land

Either before you land or in the space between de-boarding the plane and your bags arriving into baggage claim, do a quick tidy up. Quick as in under 5 minutes.

1. Brush Your Teeth

Trust me, your breath stinks after a long flight. A fresh, minty mouth makes you feel better, and shiny, clean teeth look 1000 times better than mossy, dirty teeth!

2. Avoid Foundation And Powder

Instead of applying base or powder gently use a facial wipe to clear away any remnants of the flight, give your skin another spritz and some moisturizer. It will love you for it. If you really do need some color support use a lightweight BB or CC cream

3. Groom Your Brows

Your eyebrows are one of the most important features on your face. Give them a quick tidy up and pencil in a little color. This draws the viewer’s eye up and away from your under eyes, and makes you look polished.

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4. Luminize Your Under Eye

Apply a little luminizing color correction under the eye to neutralize dark rings and pop a little light off. My favorites are YSL Touche Eclat and recently ColoreScience Total Eye. Either of these will hydrate, color correct and brighten, leaving you looking fresh faced and lovely

5. Show Your Lashes Some Love

Lancome definicils mascara
Lancome Definicils mascara has been around for a while. It is a tried and trusted mascara that will probably be around forever..

If you feel so inclined add a couple of coats of a lash defining mascara. Nothing goopy or thick, just something to make the lashes look defined, lush and shiny. I have been using Lancome Definicils for the past year and love it.

6. A Bright, Bold Lip

The best trick to wake up your skin and look fresh and fabulous is to apply a bright lipstick. Reds will highlight the blue/grey in your skin and unless you are JLo will make you look more haggard and beaten up, so I avoid them when flying. My favorites are fuchsias. They are bright but don’t fight with your skin tone. Even if you just wear a hint of it.

I also avoid matte formulas when I’ve been flying as they can make already dry skin and lips look dead. I prefer a sateen or very low gloss.

7. Put Your Hair Up

Sometimes something as simple as a fluffed up high ponytail can add layers of glam to your look. If there is absolutely no redeeming my hair I will backcomb it a little and put it into a high pony. This at least looks fresh.

8. Palazzo Pants

Heads up ladies, palazzo pants or pants with a little movement in the lower leg are God’s gift to frequent fliers! For the past 10 years or so I have been flying in simple black palazzo pants. They are comfortable to wear, especially in cramped seating, but even better, they swish when you walk.

Miranda Kerr walking through airport in Palazzo pants

Have a look at your fellow flyers. Their clothes look bunched, wrinkled, and slept in. On the other hand a palazzo in a travel friendly fabric that swishes a little as you walk makes you look fresh and fabulous.

If you have read my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) then you will already know about my FREE RESOURCES for travelers. These are downloadable PDFs that help you with everything from planning your trip to pre-travel checklists that help you to travel stress-free! You can download your FREE RESOURCES TRAVEL PDFs HERE


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