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25 Jan

A Gelato Tour Of Italy

One of the pleasures of Italy, especially in the summertime (or at least anytime it’s sunny), is Gelato. Gelato or Italian ice cream is a denser more flavor packed version of North American ice cream.

On a recent trip to Italy we made is a point to research and try to visit the cream of the crop (so to speak) of Gelateri in the three recognized capitals of the art Florence, Rome and Venice.

First up, Firenze (Florence) generally held to be the Mecca, where aficionados claim the best is made, where Gelato was invented in the 16th century and from which the Medici’s introduced it to the rest of Europe.

There are probably hundreds of Gelateri’s in Florence with at least a dozen that are considered top flight and battle it out for supremacy. The gelato wars are so highly contested no one can agree on THE best place and it is often broken down by flavor. This gelateri has the best Pistachio, this other the best Banana etc. and so it goes. The best gelato by nature is made in small batches using fresh ingredients and on the premises. This also means inconsistency (part of the charm) which means that the best Banana gelato this week may be so-so the next because the fruit is not the same. Que sera sera!


Vivoli Gelato Florence

Vivoli was the first stop as it is one of the most famous and a darling of the guidebooks. Indeed my first inclination to go there was from my Let’s Go tour book but nothing in Florence is easy to find so I coupled that with directions and input from the tourist office who agreed that it was certainly good but others were as good.

A three scoop cup was our order (knowing the etiquette of choosing a size of cup or cone - determining the amount of scoops and/or flavors and paying first before handing your receipt to the server is helpful here as this procedure is followed more often than not in Italy). 3 euros was the tab. Chocolate, Pistachio and Raspberry were the choices here with the Raspberry being a standout and quite simply the best single flavor I’ve ever had. It was the star of the tour and could not be matched due to it’s fresh and intense flavor. There was nothing to criticize!


Grom Gelato Florence

Grom is (an upstart pick) more modern but getting great buzz for some innovative flavors and high quality. Really nice staff who spoke English and advised to try one of their signature flavors which could be tasted nowhere else. Caramello a Sale topped with Limon Granite(sorbet) in a cone was the choice here ~2E. The Caramello was nice and the Lemon very refreshing so a satisfying if unorthodox combo. Grom is very close to the Duomo which makes it convenient to get to (although still a bit convoluted to find). No disappointment here and a nice looking store.



Rome was the next stop and being such a large city there was only time to hit one place as we toured around. The well reviewed Old Bridge Gelato near the entrance to the Vatican museum was the stop. We’re weren’t really looking for it specifically but saw the crowd and knew it couldn’t be too bad. This turned out to be the gelato bargain of the trip. 2E bought us a very generous three flavor cup (Bacio/Pistachio/Coconut) and although maybe not quite a good as what we had of the more artisan shops in Florence it was certainly good enough to keep you walking the next time you see Breyers in the grocery freezer! I’ve seen many reviews say that this was their favorite in Rome. Location is in this one’s favor as you will be visiting the area for sure so check it out!

Old Bridge Gelato
Viale dei Bastioni di Michelangelo 5


Venice is definitely the sleeper Gelato destination of the trip, although high in the global Gelato hierarchy it’s usually takes a back seat to Florence and Rome. With that in mind I found two good and one so-so place.

The so-so place was just one of the first places we saw and their Gelato was mass produced and you could taste the difference(*See tips below). The 2nd shop was a let’s go recommended and it was very good. On par on what we had in Rome, we even sampled from a third shop but I was beginning to get a little gelatoed out at that point (is it possible?). See the site below for some recommended spots sure to please!


General Gelato Tips:

These are not my own but are general wisdom from those who take their gelato seriously. I follow them myself and they have never steered me wrong when in unfamiliar Gelato territory or when making a decision between many Gelateri that are often crowded together.

*Most quality gelato shops use long stainless steel containers as batches are small and made on site. If you see large plastic containers then it is probably made off site in bulk and is likely inferior. Don’t waste your calories or money!

* Look at the Banana flavor. If it is a bright yellow then move on as it it artificial. The real stuff will be a brownish color and shows that the Gelato is probably made in-house and care has been taken with the ingredients.

* Similarly for Pistachio (one of my favorite flavors and often used as a benchmark of a quality Gelateri) as the nuts are an expensive ingredient so many places skimp on this flavor using artificial enhancers and colors. If it is fluorescent green then run don’t walk to the next store.

24 Jan

The Arcone, Florence

the Arcone Florence

The porticos (entrance) to
the Piazza della Repubblica
features a huge arch called the Arcone.
It was designed by Micheli

L’antico centro della citta da secolare squallore a vita nuova restituito
(The ancient centre of the city restored from age-old squalor to new life)
is inscribed on the arch.

Read More About Florence

23 Jan

Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali, Florence

Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali Florence

The Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali is also situated in the Piazza della Signoria. Built in 1871, it blends in with the other buildings but it was never a private or royal residence. It was built as the head office for the General Insurance Company. Yep, completely commercial. The Rivoire, a cafe, and the retail store Chanel inhabit the street level space.

Read More About Florence

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