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All About Gelato
Gelato is Italian "ice cream", but is different from American-style ice cream. Gelato is made from whole milk, eggs, sugar, and flavoring. Some of the fruit flavors are dairy-free; just fruit and sugar. (None of them are sugar-free, so keep in mind you are getting lots of sugar in gelato.)
Gelato is very popular in Italy with Italians and tourists. There are stores that specialize in gelato (gelaterie). Many caffes sell gelato. Some places make their own gelato, others get it from small Italian gelato factories. Not all homemade gelato is the same; some places use commercial mixes, some places use fresh ingredients.
Look for these signs to designate quality gelato:
The Gelateria Menu
Here is a menu from a gelateria in Lerici (Liguria). The photo was taken in June 2000 before the conversion to the euro, so prices are listed in both lire and euro.
cono - cone (plural: coni, pronounced: KOH-noh, KOH-nee)
This price list is for cones. You can also order your gelato in a paper cup. From this menu you can see that a cone with two scoops (two flavors) costs just over 1 euro.
You can ask for whipped cream (panna) to be added for an extra charge (0.52 euro).
Granite (pronounced: grah-NEE-teh, a flavored iced drink) and Frappe (pronounced: frahp-PEH, a more milky kind of milkshake) are also on the menu.
Many flavors are available. All will be on display in the gelato stand and will be labeled. Some flavors are more creamy: hazelnut, chocolate, coffee, etc. Some are more fruity: lemon, strawberry, melon, etc.
nocciola (pronounced: noht-CHOH-lah) - hazelnut
There is a good list of flavors in Faith Willinger's book "Eating in Italy".
How to Order
Prices are for the number of scoops (gusti). You can order in a cone (cono) or paper cup (coppa). The gelato is displayed with all the flavors labeled. Wait in line, or in the crowds in front of the ice cream case, until the server asks you what you would like. Tell them if you want a cup or a cone and how many scoops. Then tell them the flavors you want.
Don't order too many scoops on a hot day; the gelato melts quickly and will become a sticky mess. You can select a flavor for each scoop you order. In many places you can have fresh whipped cream on top (panna). There is an extra charge for this.
Usually you pay at a cashier after you have been given your gelato. Many gelaterie have no tables. The custom is to eat your gelato while strolling along the streets.
Two cones, each with two flavors and topped with
Photos: Gelato and Gelateria
Brivido Gelateria in Siena, San Crispino in Rome, and other shots of gelato and gelateria.
Slow Travel Italy - Restaurant Reviews: Recommendations for gelato places are included by region.
Slow Travel Italy - Grinisa's Gelato List: Recommendations for Rome, Florence, Venice, and the Island of Lipari.
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