You simply cannot visit Florence and not try gelato – the Italian version of ice cream. Tasting gelato in the Cradle of the Renaissance is a delightful and memorable experience that involves all your senses. Florence is home to some of the best gelaterias in the world, and the city is often considered the birthplace of gelato.
Discovering the best gelato in Florence can be quite challenging given the ubiquity of this iconic Italian frozen dessert throughout the city. Continue reading to explore our selection of the 13 best Florence gelato shops.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Gelato vs. Ice Cream: What’s the Difference?
- 2 Why is Gelato in Florence So Special?
- 3 How To Spot Top-Quality Gelato in Florence?
- 4 Traditional Gelato Flavors in Italy
- 5 Where To Get the Best Gelato in Florence
- 6 How Much Does Gelato in Florence Cost?
- 7 Further Reading For Your Florence Visit
- 8 More Information About Italy
Gelato vs. Ice Cream: What’s the Difference?
Before we delve into our selection of the best gelaterias in Florence, it’s important to note the main differences between gelato and ice cream.
Fat Content: Traditional ice cream has a higher fat content (usually around 14-25%) because it is made with more cream. Gelato, on the other hand, uses more milk and less cream, resulting in a lower fat content (usually around 4-8%).
Churning Process: Ice cream is churned at a high speed, which incorporates more air into the mixture, making it lighter and fluffier. Gelato is churned at a slower speed, resulting in a denser and creamier texture.
Serving Temperature: Ice cream is usually served at a colder temperature (around -18 to -15 °C), while gelato is served at a slightly warmer temperature (around -12 to -6 °C). This makes gelato softer and more elastic in texture.
Flavor: Because gelato has less fat and air, it tends to have a more intense and pure flavor than ice cream.
Why is Gelato in Florence So Special?
As I mentioned earlier, Florence is considered the birthplace of gelato. It is unclear who exactly is the original inventor of gelato, but a widely accepted version of its history credits Bernardo Buontalenti, a Florentine native, with the creation of a version of what we now know as modern gelato.
In the 16th century, Buontalenti was commissioned to organize a grand feast for the Spanish king’s visit to Florence. For this occasion, Buontalenti created a new frozen dessert made of sweetened cream, flavored with bergamot, lemon, and oranges, a precursor to modern-day gelato.
Today, gelato in Florence is big business. Jacky and I have sampled a lot of gelato in Naples, Rome, and Venice but the gelato in Florence is simply on another level.
Many gelaterias in Florence are family-run businesses that still employ traditional methods and natural ingredients to create their gelato, resulting in a high-quality, flavorful product.
How To Spot Top-Quality Gelato in Florence?
There are several places in Florence serving mass-produced gelato that is not at all authentic or superior in taste. The following are signs of potentially lower-quality gelato in Florence:
Bright, Artificial Colors: Genuine fruit flavors, like lemon or banana, shouldn’t be neon-colored. Natural gelato uses real ingredients which result in more muted colors.
Overly Puffed Up: Gelato that is piled high in containers has often been aerated too much, indicating it might contain fillers and artificial stabilizers.
Too Creamy: If gelato is overly soft and creamy at room temperature, it might have too much fat or contain artificial stabilizers.
Excessive Sweetness: Overly sweet gelato can indicate the use of lower-quality ingredients, masked by the sugar.
Thus, spotting top-quality artisanal gelato (gelato artiginiale) in Florence is vital and involves paying attention to several key details:
Color: The color of the gelato should be natural and not too bright.
Texture: The texture of the gelato should be smooth and creamy, not icy or grainy.
Presentation: High-quality gelato is usually stored in metal containers with lids, not piled high in display cases. This is because exposure to air and light can degrade the quality of the gelato.
Serving Style: Gelato should be served using an instrument similar to a spatula, not a scoop. This helps to preserve its dense texture.
Flavor: The taste should be rich and intense but not overpowered by milk or sugar.
Traditional Gelato Flavors in Italy
Fior di Latte: A simple and classic flavor made with milk and sugar.
Stracciatella: Vanilla gelato with chocolate shavings or chocolate chips mixed in.
Zabaione: A flavor based on the Italian dessert of the same name, made with egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine.
Where To Get the Best Gelato in Florence
We dedicated a significant amount of time to sampling a diverse range of gelatos from various gelaterias in Florence. The city is a major competitor for having the finest gelato in Italy, boasting an array of exceptional gelato stores.
Much like the discussions that arise among Neapolitans when asked about the best pizza places in Naples, or among Philadelphians when questioned about the best spots for cheesesteak in Philly, querying the locals of Florence about the best gelato in the city is bound to spark a heated discussion.
More often than not, what is deemed as “the best” is influenced by a combination of local pride and the history of the establishment, rather than just the consistency, texture, ingredients, or innovative flavors offered by the gelateria.
Nonetheless, listed below are our top 13 places for the best gelato in Florence, in no specific order. These are spread across various parts of the city, ensuring that you are always near exceptional gelato, no matter your location in Florence.
1. RivaReno Gelato
If you’re a gelato connoisseur, then a stop at RivaReno Gelato is a must. RivaReno is a popular Italian gelato chain known for its high-quality gelato made with the highest quality ingredients, and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
They use fresh milk and cream, seasonal fruits, and premium ingredients like Piedmont hazelnuts and Sicilian pistachios. The establishment has received numerous awards and recognition for its high-quality gelato.
RivaReno offers a wide variety of flavors, from classic favorites like gianduja and pistachio to unique and innovative flavors like ricotta with fig or caramelized sesame seeds with strands of saffron.
I must confess, the gelato at RivaReno is possibly the finest Jacky and I have ever tasted. The ‘Strawberry Fields’ is deliriously indulgent with its combination of strawberries and creamy mascarpone as is the ‘Mango Heera’ made from highly sought-after Kesar mangoes.
But the real standout is their ‘Cremino RivaReno’ flavor made with a blend of white chocolate, hazelnut, and cream interspersed with layers of gianduja cream. It is so lusciously rich and smooth that it nearly transcends into a spiritual encounter!
In Italy, requesting two or three distinct flavors in a single cup is customary, so don’t hesitate to experiment with various combinations.
I was somewhat insincere earlier when I mentioned that our recommendations are not ranked in any specific order, because, in our opinion, the gelato at RivaReno Gelato undoubtedly ranks as the best gelato in Florence we had!
Stepping into this establishment is a decision you won’t regret, although your waistline might beg to differ 😉.
Opening Hours: RivaReno Gelato is open daily from 12:00-24:00.
2. La Sorbettiera
La Sorbettiera is a charming and cozy gelato shop located in the Oltrarno district of Florence. Run by a passionate husband-wife duo, the gelato at La Sorbettiera is made in-house, in small batches, and with a lot of care and attention to detail.
While they offer classic flavors like hazelnut and pistachio, La Sorbettiera is also known for its innovative and unique flavors, such as ‘pear and gorgonzola’ or ‘New England 1776’ which combines a fior di latte base with maple syrup and candy bacon.
The gelato here isn’t visible because it’s stored in silver containers deep within the counter to ensure a consistent, soft-serving temperature.
The texture of the gelato at La Sorbettiera is smooth and creamy. Some of their best flavors are pistachio, chai tea, lemon, and dark chocolate. One bite of any of these and you’ll be begging for more!
Opening Hours: La Sorbettiera is open daily from 12:00-24:00.
It’s hard to pick the best gelato in Florence but Sbrino sits right up there among the crème de la crème. Hardly a day goes by without long queues of tourists and locals alike waiting for their sweet fix at this shop in the bohemian Oltrarno district.
Sbrino produces their gelato every day in limited quantities. This approach guarantees that each serving is of top-notch freshness and quality. With a broad and inventive range of flavors, patrons are continually offered novel tastes to explore.
Three of Sbrino’s standout flavors are ‘Cremino di Sbrino’, pistachio, and ‘Speculoos.’ The latter is a gelato with a creamy base containing pieces of cinnamon biscuits. It’s so good, I nearly soiled myself!
For those who enjoy the intensity of the traditional pistachio flavor, the pistachio at Sbrino is a must-try.
Opening Hours: Sbrino is open daily from 11:30-01:00.
4. Gelateria dei Neri
Gelateria dei Neri is one of the most renowned gelato shops in Florence. Located a short walk from the Uffizi Gallery, it’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
One of the standout features of Gelateria dei Neri is its extensive flavor selection. While they offer many traditional Italian flavors, they also provide more unique and inventive combinations like ‘Gorgonzola and Nuts’, and ‘Pistachio and Chili’.
Jacky and I loved the gelato here, it’s sinfully rich and creamy, with transcendent flavors. Be sure to try the flavors of ‘Ricotta and Figs’, ‘Tiramisu’, and ‘Pistachio Ricotta Cremino’ at Gelateria dei Neri.
Given its proximity to major tourist attractions and its reputation, it’s often busy, but it’s definitely worth the wait.
Opening Hours: Gelateria dei Neri is open Wednesday-Monday from 10:30-24:00.
5. Gelateria Della Passera
Nestled in the charming Piazza della Passera, Gelateria Della Passera has garnered a well-deserved reputation for serving some of the best gelato in Florence. The shop is known for its high-quality gelato, made using fresh, natural ingredients without any artificial additives or preservatives.
The gelato here is hand-churned, and you can sense the artisanal touch in every scoop, which is rich, creamy, and flavorful. The taste lingers in your mouth long even after you’ve finished.
Flavors run the gamut from classic (chocolate, pistachio, hazelnut, stracciatella) to the exotic and incredible (Crema ai Sette Profumi, Brunelleschi, Scheherazade, Crema del Beltra, Mona Lisa).
The Mona Lisa with its combination of eggs, milk, chestnuts, honey, apple pure, walnuts, and sultanas rehydrated in Vin Santo is simply mindblowing.
Also, the Crema ai Sette Profumi with its infusion of cinnamon, clove, star anise, coffee beans, vanilla, and lemon and orange zest is a gelato lover’s delight.
Opening Hours: Vivoli is open Tuesday-Sunday from 12:00-24:00.
6. Gelateria De’ Medici
Gelateria De’ Medici is a respected name in the gelato world of Florence. Located slightly off the main tourist tracks, this gelateria has become a beloved stop for those seeking quality over convenience.
Gelateria De’ Medici attracts pedestrians with its classical ambiance, dark wood walls, and visible chandeliers. They use premium ingredients and traditional equipment to craft their gelato, resulting in a texture that’s creamy, dense, and perfectly melt-in-the-mouth.
De’ Medici stands out for its unique and delectable flavors. While they have a range of regular favorites, some of their more renowned flavors include Marron glacés (candied chestnut), various chocolate variants made with top-grade cocoa, and Sicilian pistachio.
Ultimately, whichever flavor you get, you can’t go wrong with any choice here!
Opening Hours: Gelato De’ Medici has two locations in Florence. Both are open Tuesday-Sunday from 09:30-24:00.
7. Gelateria Edoardo
Located right in the shadow of the legendary Duomo, Gelateria Edoardo is an esteemed gelato spot in Florence, making it a favorite for both locals and tourists.
Edoardo is known for its commitment to using only organic ingredients. Two distinctive features of this gelateria are that they make their own cones on-site and that they have a lot of vegan flavors.
The mix of traditional and innovative flavors means patrons always have something new to try. The standout flavor here is the ‘Zabaione Nonna Antonietta’, closely followed by ‘Honey and Lavander’, and ‘Cinnamon.’
Given its prime location near the Duomo, the place is a perfect spot for tourists to indulge in gelato while soaking in the views.
Opening Hours: Gelateria Edoardo is open daily from 11:30-23:00.
8. My Sugar
This small gelateria on a quiet alley near the famous Accademia Gallery doesn’t always get the attention it deserves — but it’s a local favorite.
Premium raw materials, including milk and sugar, are used in the gelato without any emulsifiers, colorants, preservatives, or artificial tastes, and it’s made in small quantities. The gelato here is purely natural, devoid of artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives, and spans from traditional flavors to innovative ones.
Jacky and I concur that the gelato we had there was right up there with the best gelato in Florence, very rich and extra creamy. While you can’t go wrong with any of the flavors there, try the ‘Salted Caramel’ and ‘Black Sesame’.
Opening Hours: My Sugar is open Wednesday-Monday from 12:30-22:30.
9. La Strega Nocciola
Our first taste of gelato in Florence was at the renowned La Strega Nocciola. Situated in the historic center of the city near the Duomo, La Strega Nocciola provides a quaint respite from the bustle of the city’s tourist centers
The interior exudes a charm that is both cozy and elegant. Warm lighting and rustic decor make for an inviting atmosphere, creating a perfect backdrop for indulging in a scoop or two of gelato.
Three standout flavors at La Strega Nocciola are ‘Lavender’, ‘Hazelnut’, and ‘Bergamot’.
Opening Hours: La Strega Nocciola has three locations in Florence. All the locations are open daily but have slightly different operating hours.
10. Cantina del Gelato
If you’re going to indulge in some gelato near the famous Ponte Vecchio Bridge, then your first stop should be the popular Cantina del Gelato, which serves up some of the best gelato in Florence!
Along with time-honored favorites like vanilla, chocolate, and pistachio, they offer a spectrum of unique flavors, some inspired by local ingredients or seasonal produce. Plus, the gelato is very, very good.
Two of Cantina del Gelato’s must-try flavors are ‘Turmeric & Fig’, and ‘Black Rice’. Another flavor Jacky and I really liked is the ‘Gusto della Cantina’ which consists of a hazelnut base featuring Nutella ribbons and chunks of chocolate.
Opening Hours: Cantina del Gelato has two locations in Florence. Both are open Tuesday-Sunday from 12:00-23:00 (summer) and 13:00-23:00 (winter).
Opened in 1930, Vivoli is the grand old dame of gelato shops in Florence making it a bonafide Florentine institution. Located in the heart of Florence, near Santa Croce, Vivoli has been frequented by generations of Florentines and visitors, given its long-standing history and commitment to quality.
A large selection of flavors and fresh, high-quality gelato make Vivoli an essential stop on your Florence gelato route. Plus, the shop’s interior exudes a quaint, old-world charm that transports visitors back in time.
Being a stickler for old school, one of the distinctive elements of Vivoli is that they serve their gelato not in cones but in cups.
While they serve a plethora of flavors, there are certain signature scoops and combinations. The ‘Gelato alla Crema’ and ‘Zabaione’ are peerless.
Besides gelato, Vivoli also serves an array of delectable pastries and desserts. Sample the affogato, an Italian dessert combining hot espresso poured over a scoop of vanilla gelato. It’s nearly a heavenly experience.
Opening Hours: Vivoli is open Tuesday-Saturday from 08:00-23:00 and Sunday from 09:00-20:00.
12. La Gelateria
You might easily overlook La Gelateria while hunting for the best gelato in Florence, but this under-the-radar spot is a treasure for those seeking hidden delights.
Far from a flashy gelato store, its simplicity, minimal sugar usage, powerful tastes, and undeniably creamy consistency have earned it a spot as a local favorite in the San Lorenzo district.
La Gelateria serves classic Italian gelato flavors along with some exquisite mixes, presenting gelato in its purest, most refined form.
Opening Hours: La Gelateria is open from 13:00-23:00 (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday), 12:00-23:00 (Friday, Saturday), and 13:00-22:30 (Wednesday).
13. Gelateria La Carraia
Gelateria La Carraia is one of the standout gelato shops in Florence, known for its premium quality and rich flavors. Using fresh and high-quality ingredients, the gelato here is creamy and dense which showcases the true essence of traditional Italian gelato.
La Carraia offers a wide range of flavors, from the classics like stracciatella and pistachio to more unique and inventive ones. Seasonal ingredients often inspire new additions, ensuring there’s always something fresh to try.
Its reputation as one of the best gelaterias in Florence often means there’s a queue.
Opening Hours: Gelateria La Carraia has two locations in Florence. The main location near the Ponte alla Carraia bridge is open daily from 11:00-24:00 while the other location in the historic center is open daily from 12:00-24:00.
How Much Does Gelato in Florence Cost?
In Florence, gelato is typically sold by the size of the cup or cone, rather than the number of flavors or scoops. The price of a small (piccolo) cone or cup of gelato ranges from 2.50-3.00 EUR at all the gelato shops we’ve featured on our list. A small cup usually includes at least two scoops.
While most gelaterias in Florence do accept card payments, it’s always a good idea to have some loose change on hand. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss out on a mouth-watering gelato because you’re short on cash.
Further Reading For Your Florence Visit
That summarizes our definitive guide to the best gelato in Florence. We reckon you’ll find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Florence!
More Information About Italy
Herculaneum: Check out our definitive guide to visiting Herculaneum!
Do you agree with our list? Where did you find the best gelato in Florence? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Hello there, fellow globetrotters! I’m Mihir, a passionate travel blogger with an insatiable wanderlust. My journey across the world is fueled by curiosity and a hunger for unique experiences. As a travel writer, photographer, and adventurer, I’ve explored more than 35 countries, aiming to provide readers with a distinctive glimpse of our diverse world. Join me as I blend captivating storytelling with stunning visuals, guiding you through hidden gems and cultural treasures. Besides traveling, my other loves are my beloved cats, architecture, art, craft beer, classic movies, history, and Australian Rules Football (Go Dons!).