This year, 18 European gelato makers battled to determine who is the best gelato maker in the world. Each gelato shop created new, never before seen (or tasted) gelato flavors and the public voted for a winner of the 2016 Gelato Festival.

There were a total of ten stages that took place throughout the year in ten different European cities including Rome, London, Berlin, Milan and Naples. The festival began it's first round in Florence and—luckily for me—finished the final round there, where  I happened to be studying abroad.

The Sunday of the final stage, it was around 95 degrees and I was definitely more than ready for gelato. I arrived at the Piazzale Michelangelo and was overwhelmed by over 25 gelato pop up shops. 

A woman handed me a “gelato passport." In order to vote, you needed to have every single gelato stamped on the passport. I was on a mission.

beer, coffee, wine, tea, water
Claire Dinhut

The flavors ranged from delicious to bizarre and everywhere in between: lemon buffalo milk, fresh mojito, or my personal favorite, pistachio pesto. It sounds weird, but between the crunchy pistachios and the creamy basil after note, it was to die for. 

ice, cream, caramel
Claire Dinhut

As is the Florence standard, the star of the festival was the “Buontalenti” flavored gelato. Even after living here for less than a week, I was already familiarized with Badiani, the gelateria that produces this flavor. 

Named after the man credited for inventing gelato, Bernardo Buontalenti, this flavor most closely resembles the taste of condensed milk. All I can say is thank you to Bernardo’s parents for raising their son in Florence, the only city where one can find the joy that is the Buontalenti flavor. 

cream, sweet, chocolate, candy, cake, milk
Claire Dinhut

In the end, the popular vote went to Eugenio Morrone from the Roman Gelateria "Il Cannolo Siciliano." His mandarino tardivo - mandarin, ginger and peppermint just could not be beat.