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A Lot O’ Gelato: A Guide to the Perfect Scoop

Lauren A

Italy is known for its pasta and wine, but don’t forget about its legendary gelato! Some people may think that gelato is just ice cream, but it’s much more than that and is on a whole other level than its American counterpart. Although you may be an expert on how to order a good old fashioned scoop of ice cream, you might be surprised about what will differentiate the tourists from the locals in Italy.

Check out some tips about how to have the best gelato experience possible on your tour of Italy!

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Look for quality

The biggest mistake that travelers will make is choosing gelato that is not authentic. Some “tourist traps” like to present their gelato in big, flashy piles to get your attention. However, due to the traditional temperature and density of real gelato (which is slightly warmer and less airy than American ice cream), it should be too soft and malleable to create a hill that stands on its own. When you’re looking for real gelato, you have to make sure it is stored in low basins or tubs, not mini mountains. Below is a picture of the piled gelato to avoid as well as a picture of the basins to search for.

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Pick your style

When ordering gelato, you can choose to get your gelato in a cone (un cono) or a cup (una coppa). I like getting a cup because I can avoid sticky-gelato-fingers but my sister loves eating a cone, especially if the gelateria adds melted chocolate into the base (make sure you try !). Some places even have other fun options like homemade waffle bowls!

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Choose a size

Sizes may vary from place to place, but usually you have the option of choosing small (piccolo), medium (medio), or large (grande). I almost always get small; it’s enough to fill you up but doesn’t leave you feeling stuffed afterwards. However, it’s never bad to try a medium or large at least once on your trip!

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Getting your scoops

The gelato is so soft that it is usually scooped out with a spatula or spade. Certain flavors may appear to be more sorbet-like than other flavors – this is usually a sign of fresh ingredients. Technically, fruit flavors such as lemon or peach are actually considered to be sorbet even though they are commonly referred to as gelato.

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Don’t want a gelato right now? Try a granita!

If you’ve been eating gelato every day (like me) and you want to switch it up a bit, a granita is the perfect option. They’re sold in almost every gelateria and are similar to what we call slushies. However, a granita is made with fresh fruit, ice, and sugar – providing an extremely natural and refreshing taste that puts a Slurpee to shame. Lemon is traditional but some places have other flavors, such as orange or mint. A few gelaterias also allow you to add a scoop of gelato to your granita – just imagine all the possible flavor combinations! Stay tuned for more tasty tips coming up soon!

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