Spring has well and truly sprung here in Florence. The trees are heavy with blossom, the sun has finally come out of hibernation and the temperature is rising. This weekend, it reached 25°C (77°F, for my American readers!) for the first time this year. Teamed with Firenze’s famous humidity, this Saturday was particularly warm, granting me the perfect conditions for my first gelato of the season! Finally!
Personally, I’ve never been much of an ice cream lover. I ate more than my fair share of mint choc chip ice cream as a child and managed to completely put myself off the stuff for upwards of ten years. I didn’t touch it until moving to Florence, where I suddenly rediscovered what I had been missing all this time. Let’s be honest: it would have been rude to come to Italy and not taste their world-famous gelato, wouldn’t it?! And boy am I happy that I did. “But where is the best place to buy it?” I hear you ask. Well, as sheer luck would have it, we live just next door to one of Florence’s most traditional, well known – not to mention reasonably priced – ice cream parlours.
There are hundreds of gelato shops in Florence, and it’s difficult to weed out the best from the average and the average from the plain rubbish. A piece of advice: a classic tourist trap is to pile up the ice cream into huge mountains complete with fresh fruit and covered in sauces or chocolate in order to lure in tourists and charge them upwards of €5 per cone. Do not fall for this! In places such as this, particularly in the most famous piazzas, you will not find the best gelato.
The place to go is Gelateria Dei Neri. It’s on Via Dei Neri in the Santa Croce district of downtown Florence and boasts excellence and prestige. It has all the traditional flavours like vanilla and chocolate, and some wonderful inventions of their own too such as ricotta and fig. I’m a huge fan of their mango and passion fruit sorbets – they are fresh and fruity, the perfect cool down on a warm spring afternoon. You also can’t spend a sunny Saturday without trying their stracciatella. Think milky-vanilla ice cream with huge chunks of rich dark chocolate. A perfect treat. Now excuse me, I’m off for another…
Cones and tubs are available from €1.80 at Gelateria dei Neri on Via dei Neri, 9/11, 50122, Florence. Open all day from 10am – midnight.