The best ice cream in Italy

The Italian obsession with ice cream and the media guide consumers to the best ice cream in Italy.

Italians have an obsession with ice creams. Many families round off every meal at the kitchen table with a few litres of Carte d’Or. There are thousands of ice cream shops with long queues in residential areas. And in Italian media gelato forms a regularly recurring theme during summer in line with Danish media’s desire to describe the curvature and size of cucumbers.

On July 26, La Repubblica ran an article, promoting Torino as the ice cream capital of Italy because of the quality of their artigianali. The newspaper quotes a famous food critic for saying that the two secrets of good ice cream is the quality of the ingredients combined with freshness and texture – “che deve essere come velluto, sulla lingua, non si devono assolutamente sentir cristalli di Ghiaccio”.

best ice cream in italy

On August 1st, British Financial Times picks up the thread with an article on ice cream history. ‘The Grandfathers of gelato‘ claim that the first ice cream was invented and developed in Sicily in the 8th century, when invading Arabs found a way to cool sweetened fruit juice with snow from Mount Etna. On this evidence the author of the article concludes that the best ice and the greatest ice cream enthusiasts can be found in Sicily.

Finally on August 12, Il Giorno brought an article which, based on a number of private ice cream tests appoints Milano la Capitale italiana del gelato“. The article refers to a study counting the total number gelaterie artigianali in Italy to 36,400. Of these 511 are placed in Milano, while Napoli has to make do with only 205 ice cream vendors. Northwestern Italians also spend most money on ice creams, with an average family ice cream budget of 94 euros per year.

Il Giorno adds that the most popular flavours are crema followed by Fragola, Limone and pistacchio. This is confirmed by a study published by Eurisko-IGI (Istituto del gelato italiano) some years back. According to Eurisko 95 percent of the Italians like ice cream, and on average each Italian eats 60 servings of ice cream annually. Their taste favourites are cioccolato, Nocciola, limone, Fragola, crema, stracciatelle (ice cream with pieces of chocolate) and pistacchio, so in this respect there is little or no development, although it is estimated that the Italians have over 600 different flavours to choose from.

Given these facts it can be difficult to decide what kind of ice cream to buy where. Personally, I go with the flow. Italians are true ice cream experts; so long queues usually guarantee high quality. In addition, I try to avoid the most colourful creations. Blue-blue mint ice cream, green-green pistachio, and yellow-yellow banana can be a sign that not all ingredients are completely natural.

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