Summer is approaching, and the idea of an ice cream starts to be very tempting. Even more so if one spent the whole day visiting museums, or strolling through the streets of the city. Morover, the ice cream tradition is rooted in Florence since the Renaissance. For this reason the city is hosting one of the ten stages of the Ice Cream Festival, the most important European Italian-style ice cream contest. While waiting to know who will be the winner of the 2016 edition, we decided to suggets you 10 ice creams you have to try in Florence. Follow us, and discover 10 ways to interpret one of the most appreciated Italian delicacies.
Perché no! …
Launched in 1939, Perché no! … was one of the first ice cream store to open in Florence. It still serves a homemade ice cream, freshly prepared every day according to the tradition and made only from natural ingredients. Besides a good selection of creamy tastes (try the cream with sesame and honey and the one with black cherries), Perché no! … offers a wide range of sorbets (ice cream based on water and not milk), including an excellent dark chocolate and various fruit flavours. Perché no! … is located in Via dei Tavolini 19 red, a few steps from Piazza della Signoria. Therefore it offers a pleasant stop for those who have spent the day discovering the beauties of the historic center.
Launched in Florence in 2008, Carapina introduced a new way of approaching the ice cream tradition, that founder Simone Bonini likes to call Gourmet Ice Cream. The philosophy of Carapina is based on a limited offer of flavours (about a dozen), quality raw materials (often purchased locally) and use of strictly seasonal products (you will not find peach-flavoured ice cream in winter, to be clear!) . But it is also based on the will to dare: next to classics like pistachio, the Piedmont IGP hazelnut or Artusi Climited, you might find bold proposals, such as salted ice cream and cheese-flavoured ice cream. Carapina is located in Via Lambertesca 18 red: the ideal place to have an ice cream before a romantic walk on the Ponte Vecchio.
Gelateria Santa Trinita
Continuing our sweet path, let’s cross the river and stop in Piazza Frescobaldi 11-12 red, in front of Ponte Santa Trinita, where we find the Gelateria Santa Trinita. Also launched in 2008, it aims to offer a handmade product of superior quality in the heart of the historical center. Meaning: great attention to raw materials and fresh ice cream, prepared daily. The sorbets, made with seasonal fruits, are many and assorted, and even semifreddo are excellent. Try the black sesame ice cream, the yogurt with strawberries and honey, Buontalenti mascarpone and the fabulous dark chocolate. In the shop beside the ice cream store you can also find artisanal food products such as chocolate and biscuits.
Gelateria La Carraia
A short walk along the river and here we are in Piazza Nazario Sauro 25 red, just in front of Ponte alla Carraia. Here is a real florentine ice cream institution: the Gelateria La Carraia. Opened in 1990, this ice cream store has always been much appreciated by Florentines, and can provide the opportunity for a rest, before a visit to the Santo Sipirito artisan district. The Gelateria La Carraia offers an easily digestible ice cream, free from hydrogenated fats. In addition to the classic flavors, mousses (tiramisu, chocolate, coffee) and especially their trademark ice cream, the variegato (can’t miss the sour-cherry cream and the stracciatella), are definitely worth trying.
Let’s cross the river once again and head to Borgo Ognissanti 150 red. Here is located B.Ice, a recently opened ice-cream shop. Still little known in the city, this ice cream is very popular in the neighborhood. The homemade ice cream produced by B.Ice is free of preservatives and hydrogenated fat, and only uses natural thickeners (guar flour and locust bean flour) and fresh ingredients such as milk, eggs, seasonal fruit, water, sugar. In terms of flavours, the highlights are the cream with cantuccini and sweet wine, the dark chocolate and the apple-and-cinnamon. Besides the classic ice cream, B.Ice offers excellent homemade popsicles (on request, dipped in dark chocolate) and natural yogurt with no added sugar, to be tasted with fresh fruit, cereals or grain.
Needless to say, ice cream originated in Sicily, during the Islamic domination. Around the ninth century the Sicilians learned from the Arabs the art of mixing the ice, sugar and flavorings, and spread it throughout Europe in the following centuries. Since 1989 Carabé brought a piece of Sicily to Florence, standing out as the first true ice cream shop in the city to follow the tradition of the original Sicilian ice cream. At Carabé ice-cream is freshly prepared everyday, low in fat and sugar to ensure maximum digestibility. The flavours mainly consist in fresh and dried fruit sorbets (try the almond) and in Chocolate variations (flavored with chili, liquor and orange). Also try the original Sicilian granita (coffee, chocolate, almond and various fruits), a tradition started in Florence by Carabé itself. The ice cream shop is located in Via Ricasoli 60 red, a stone’s throw from Piazza San Marco and the Accademia Gallery.
Just around the corner from Carabé, in Via degli Alfani 127 red, you will find Arà. This typical Sicilian food shop, recently opened, is not exactly an ice cream shop. Or rather, not only. Arà proposes a wide range of gastronomic delicacies. The ice cream, however, is great and – just like Carabè’s – follows the traditional Sicilian recipe. Arà offers a more limited choice of flavours than Carabé, but is equally committed to the ice cream tradition. Try the ricotta ice cream, preferably along with typical Sicilian pastries. Not exactly fat-free, but it’s worth it! In addition to the store in Via degli Alfani, you can find Arà also at the New Central Market of San Lorenzo.
Venturing more deeply in the district of Sant’Ambrogio, let’s walk up to Via Pietrapiana 60 Red, and find Procopio. This ice cream is deeply inventive in terms of flavours, both concerning the fruit sorbets and the milk-based ice creams. The sorbets are very delicate (lemon and mint, fresh and light), while the creamy flavours (try the Follia del Propocopio) reveal a remarkable flair in the choice of ingredients but are less suitable for those who are on a diet. Obviously the quality is great in both cases. No coincidence that the Procopio ranked first for several years in a row at the Firenze Gelato Festival. At Procopio you can also find delicious popsicles, ice cream cakes, and semifreddo.
Gelateria de’ Medici
Heading to the edge of the Sant’Ambrogio district, let’s reach Piazza Beccaria 7 red, and one ice cream shop that many, in Florence, believe to be the absolute best. We’re talking about Gelateria de ‘Medici. In accordance with traditional recipes, and using only natural and genuine ingredients, the Gelateria de ‘Medici offers forty-four flavors of homemade ice cream, ranging from classics (their famous Crema de’ Medici) to more innovative and original creations (mousse marron glacé, rose-scented chocolate, yogurt and ginger).
Let’s close this overview with another Sicilian ice cream that, in recent times, has gained a considerable following in the city. We are talking about Re Gelato, managed by chef Toni Cafarelli. Besides the classic ice cream and sicilian first quality granita, to be eaten with the typical sicilian pastries, Re Gelato offers unusual culinary delicacies (ice cream with Teroldeco wine, pomegranate sauce and hazelnut biscuit, lemon cream from Tindari Valley) and salty flavours that will challenge your idea of ice cream. Some examples? Try the frozen cream made of Turkish feta and cucumber, with hot bread and parmesan cheese, salt, olive oil and parsley, or else the frozen oil cream with black salt from Cyprus and red pepper flakes, to be served with grilled vegetables and small pieces of toast. Re Gelato is located in Viale Strozzi 8 red, in front of the Fortezza da Basso and a short walk from the historic center.