Finding the best gelato in Florence is as much about identifying what isn't good gelato, as it is knowing the best gelato makers.
Keep reading for all our top tips!
There is so much gelato in Florence that it can be hard to figure out what exactly is the ‘good stuff’ and what isn’t.
Of course we’re here to help you figure it out!
On this page we'll cover what to look out for, and of course, my favorite 10 places to go to for a good, real and affordable Italian gelato, including:
There are many different versions of when, by whom and where gelato was invented.
Here in Florence we like to stick to our own version of it.
An architect named Buontalenti apparently made gelato for Caterina de’ Medici, who took it with her to France when she married into the French royal family.
Buontalenti was the one who started adding eggs to the icy sorbets that already existed, and it is even said that he designed a special machine to produce his new recipe.
Even to this day in many Florentine gelaterie (gelato shops), you can find a flavor dedicated to this man which is a very rich, yellow-ish cream, that kind of tastes like pastry cream.
Try it, as it’s one of Florence’s unique gelato flavors!
Gelato and ice cream are similar but definitely not the same.
The main difference is the temperature at which they are kept and served.
Gelato is about 10-15°F/6-8°C warmer than ice cream.
It therefore has a softer texture, which enhances the flavors of the product and the flavors and colors typically are natural.
Ingredients look the way they look in nature so you won't find authentic, brightly colored gelato.
Ice cream has a much higher percentage of butter fat than gelato, technically making gelato healthier!
The lack of butter fat is also what gives gelato its dense and non-whipped texture.
When the compact freezer was introduced, ice cream gained popularity over gelato because with the freezer on hand it was much easier to keep it at the right temperature.
That’s how ice cream became the default product internationally instead of gelato, which to a large extent remained an Italian product.
With the characteristics of classic gelato above in mind, it becomes a lot easier to find the best gelato in Florence.
Skip the shops with spectacular looking, piled up, colorful heaps on display.
These have a lot of artificial colorings and flavors in them.
They’re basically a very artificial version of ice cream and definitely not gelato.
My rule of thumb is to look at their pistachio ice cream, a flavor that pretty much all gelato shops in Italy from busy Rome to tiny village stores will have year-round.
If it is bright green then stay away.
If instead it looks darker and less vibrant, it's likely made with natural ingredients and you can trust that it is actual gelato!
Another sign of a good gelato shop is how they store their gelato.
The large piles of gelato in a counter indicates that it has been treated with some kind of chemical enhancer to stop it melting quickly.
Authentic gelato will melt fast if not kept cold enough, so one sign of a great shop is that they store their gelato in covered tubs.
This makes it a lot easier to keep the gelato at the right temperature, and therefore rich and creamy without ice crystals forming.
However, this doesn’t mean that all shops without lids are bad.
On this page you’ll find some gelato shops that don’t have lids on the gelato, but they have other ways (like keeping only small quantities in the display trays) of keeping the low temperature constant.
It was hard to pick a number one, as I was in serious doubt between number 1 and 2.
Both are in my neighborhood and have me as their frequent visitor!
The reason La Sorbettiera became my number 1 gelato spot in Florence is because I’m madly in love with their Buontalenti gelato.
It’s rich, creamy, but not heavy.
They also do a ton of other flavors that change on a regular basis, creating combinations with seasonal fruit and fresh ingredients.
Besides Buontalenti, in the summer I love their Lemon and Sage sorbet.
It’s fresh with just that bit of acidity that makes for a delicious creamy treat on a hot Florentine summer day.
La Sorbettiera has two locations:
Sbrino has been around for a couple of years now, and they’re always expanding, which is a good thing, because I really can’t get enough of their gelato.
It’s everything that good gelato needs to be: packed with flavor and nice and creamy.
They are always changing their flavors around, and they have some interesting flavors that I have never seen at other gelato spots.
My favorite is their Speculoos, a cream based gelato with chunks of cinnamon cookies mixed in.
Their pistachio gelato is amazing too and so are their sorbets.
Another great thing about Sbrino is that in summer they have Sicilian granita, shaved ice with different flavors that makes for the perfect snack on a hot summer day!
You can find Sbrino shops at:
In the middle of the historical center you will find this gelateria that is one of the older ones in town.
Their homemade gelato made with quality ingredients has been a staple in the Florentine center for decades.
Many restaurants get their gelato from this place as well.
Just walk in, order your gelato (cups only!) at the counter, pay and take the receipt to the other counter to pick your flavors.
Not feeling like gelato?
They do some nice coffee as well!
Find Vivoli at:
Before walking into La Strega Nocciola you’ll pass by some of the ‘no go’ gelato places with big, shiny mountains of frozen ‘gelato’.
Make sure to skip all of these!
Walk straight to this artisanal gelato place near the Ponte Vecchio and cross the street to enjoy views of the Arno river and the Ponte Vecchio.
They also have a gelateria near the Duomo in Via Ricasoli.
Find La Strega Nocciola at:
My Sugar is thought to be one of the best gelato shops in Florence by many, and rightfully so.
This small shop in the San Lorenzo neighborhood is easy to overlook, but you definitely shouldn't, as you’ll be missing out on some amazing gelato!
All of their flavorful gelato is made with so-called ‘KM0’ ingredients, which means they’re local and fresh.
They follow the seasons and their gelato is completely natural and bio.
This almost makes it sound like a healthy stop during your day, doesn’t it, so don’t miss out on this gem!
Find My Sugar at:
Gelateria dei Neri is probably the first gelateria that I discovered in Florence when I first came to the city 15 years ago.
It was still in a different location and lining up for your gelato wasn’t really a thing back then.
How different things are now!
In high season you’ll probably have to wait for a bit, but this gives you some time to think about which of the delicious gelato artigianale flavors you're going to choose.
Besides gelato they do some ‘cremini’ as well.
These are thick pastes of chocolate or caramel that they scoop into your cone or cup instead of gelato.
Absolutely delicious, and you definitely won’t need dinner after!
Find Gelateria dei Neri at:
This gelateria used to be at the end of the Ponte alla Carraia bridge, but a few years ago they opened up a shop in the historic center as well.
Just steps away from the famous Santa Croce church you can indulge with flavors like strawberry cheesecake or their own signature flavor of Carraia with swirls of chocolate, orange and pieces of biscuit.
Another favorite of mine is their raspberry with mint combination, perfect to refresh yourself with whilst enjoying the beauty of Florence!
They do some beautiful cakes as well to pair with the creamy gelato for a special occasion.
The two locations of Gelateria La Carraia are at:
Another gelateria that has been around away for quite a while is Perche no!
This small place is hidden away in one of the side streets near the Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Repubblica.
I especially like their seasonal fruit flavors and you should definitely give their rose gelato a try if they happen to have it, it's truly special!
Find Perche no! at:
Tucked away in a residential part of Florence called Statuto, a bit outside of the city center, you’ll find this historic gelateria that makes some of the top gelato on offer anywhere in the city.
Gelateria de Medici is a very local place, so don’t expect English menus or tons of tourists, but that’s precisely what makes this place so charming.
You’ll find yourself picking out your delicious flavors surrounded by very excited local kids.
I really like their milk and dark chocolate options, even though I’m not even that much of a chocolate gelato lover!
Find Gelateria de Medici at:
Gelateria della Passera has been named of one of the best gelateria’s in the world.
Is is good? Definitely!
Is it the very best of the many gelato shops in Florence?
At least not for me.
As you can see I have a bunch of other places that I like better, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like this one!
Their gelato is rich with a creamy flavor, and they change their range around on a regular basis.
However expect to wait in line for a while.
After various publications named it as one of their favorite gelato shops it has become tremendously popular!
Find it at:
I already explained what to avoid when you’re looking for the best gelato in Florence.
The most important tip is avoiding all neon colored mountains at all costs!
Other than that, I’m not a fan of (most) bigger chains like GROM.
To me it’s more ice cream than gelato and it tastes a bit bland.
Same goes for bars that do a bit of gelato ‘on the side’, with signs that have logos of big Italian ice cream brands on them like Sammontana or Carte d’Or.
Go for the real deal and look for a great gelato shop.
I promise you it’ll be worth it!