Florence is known for its great art, fashion, and (most importantly) its gelato. As the birthplace of this dessert that is arguably better than ice cream, Florence has a lot of life-changing gelaterias. But like any tourist destination, there are crappy knock-offs not worthy of your taste buds.
As a notorious sweet tooth and lover of a good challenge, I decided to find the best gelaterias in each neighborhood in Florence. As a disclaimer, I only tried places in central Florence because 1) I did not have a Vespa to get around in, and 2) I did not have an Italian boyfriend with a Vespa to get around in.
I almost exclusively went to Edoardo’s my first couple of weeks in Florence because it’s that friggen good. Grom, an Italian chain, is a block away, but unless you’re in the market for a gluten-free cone they’re nothing special. Edoardo’s makes their waffle cones fresh in front of you, with the buttery goodness wafting blocks away. It’s all organic and there are vegan flavors as well.
#SpoonTip: The gianduja (chocolate and hazelnut) is a must, but the pistachio, cinnamon, and wine-sorbet flavors are also amazing.
La Strega has two locations in Florence: one by the Duomo and a larger one over the river en route to Piazzale Michelangelo. This is the classic creamy gelato that dreams are made of. It’s stored in tins, which means it’s high quality and was probably made that day.
#SpoonTip: The nocciola, buontalenti (mascarpone), and lavender flavors are all to die for.
The Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio is gelato mayhem, with mountains of neon-colored gelato and cones bigger than your face. Pass on the artificially colored crap and go to Venchi. Honestly, I didn’t want to like Venchi because it’s a chain, it looks way too bougie, and the gelato is €4.50 for the amount you can get for €3 almost anywhere else. But it’s actually pretty good and, as it’s across from the leather market on the same road as the Ponte Vecchio, it’s a safe haven from that slew of BS.
#SpoonTip: Don’t miss out on the mascarpone with figs and honey.
If you’re studying abroad and looking for someplace to become a regular, this is it. Marco makes the gelato and his wife works the counter, and not only do they make amazing gelato, but they’re also incredibly friendly and have a punch card for students so you can holla for that free food.
It’s down the street from the more well-known Vivoli, but the flavor and texture of Ottaviano’s gelato is far better. All the ingredients are high quality and locally sourced, with the ricotta coming from a farm 20 minutes away. There are also GF and sugar-free options.
#SpoonTip: The best flavors are the chocolate banana, ricotta with figs, and peanut (especially if you’re missing the US).
It’s not easy for me to choose a favorite gelateria, but this is it. The gelato is creamy, with crazy deep flavors and usually a textural element like crunchy almonds. I might write an ode to Rivareno, I might marry it, we’ll see.
#SpoonTip: You absolutely have to taste the Alice (mascarpone with chocolate hazelnut sauce drizzled on top) and the Contessa (almond).
Piazza della Repubblica
Around since 1939, Perché No is a Florentine institution with a lot of lasting power. It’s Slow Food certified and makes gelato fresh every day. My Italian teacher Francesca also loves this place, so if you want to be like Francesca you should probably go.
#SpoonTip: Get the salted caramel and the ginger, which is only available on Tuesdays.
Piazzale Michelangelo has great views and some awesome gelaterias en route, including La Strega and Vivaldi. Vivaldi uses fresh, all-natural ingredients to make some baller gelato. It is necessary to get a cone after making the trek to and from Piazzale Michelangelo because #foodisfuel.
#SpoonTip: Try the ricotta or the dark chocolate (or both).
Just over the Santa Trinita bridge, this place almost always has a line out the door. The gelato is good, classic, and creamy. No complaints. Go in the evening to grab a cone and watch the sunset from Ponte Santa Trinita and marvel at how damn beautiful Firenze is.
#SpoonTip: The flavors you need to try ASAP are pistachio, dark chocolate, and the sesame if you’re feeling adventurous
This was the most unique gelato I had in Flo-Town and is the place to go for sorbet flavors. It’s a tiny shop in Piazza Della Passera, which is prime for eating an afternoon gelato on one of the benches. The flavors rotate often and the owners don’t speak English very well, so I’m not even entirely sure what I had there but it was good.
#SpoonTip: Get the mojito sorbet (yeah, seriously), the Monnalisa, or the almond.
After trying gelato from 15 different places, these are my recs, but there’s always more gelato to be discovered in Florence. Happy travels and stay hungry, my friends.