I imagine asking someone from Florence where to get the best gelato is like asking someone from Chicago where to get the best deep-dish pizza or someone from Tokyo where to get the best sushi – you’ll probably get different answers from every person you ask.
Still, I’m sharing my picks for the Best Gelato in Florence in 2023. There are some excellent gelaterie that have opened in the last few years here in Florence, and the classics remain.
Why is gelato such a big deal in Florence – even more so than in the rest of Italy?
Florence claims to be the birthplace of gelato. In the late 1500’s, Bernardo Buontalenti created the creamy cold treat by adding some milk and honey (and possibly eggs or liquor) to sorbetto (sorbet). Then, in 1979, there was a competition in Florence to recreate Buontalenti’s invention. And, it was decided that Gelateria Pasticceria Badiani’s recipe was the closest.
Whether or not Florence is really the birthplace of gelato is debatable, but the fact that Florence has amazing gelato is not.
While you’re here, be sure to sample gelato at least once a day (even in the winter)! And, if you need some variety, you’ll also find sorbetto (sorbet), mousse, cakes with gelato, and frozen desserts at Florence’s gelato shops.
Good To Know: Most gelaterie in Florence have vegan gelato, dairy-free gelato, and gluten-free gelato.
Map of the Best Gelato in Florence
Blue = my picks for best gelato in Florence
Green = other popular gelato shops in Florence
What’s the Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream?
They’re both delicious, but there are a few main differences when comparing gelato to ice cream.
- Has less fat
- Uses more milk (vs cream)
- Is slow-churned, which creates few air bubbles and a dense final product
- Relies more on natural sugars (from fruit, for example)
- Is softer (stored at a higher temperature)
- Usually doesn’t contain eggs
Quality Gelato – What To Look For
You want to find gelato artigianale (artisanal, hand-crafted, homemade).
The best gelato is made with simple ingredients (milk, sugar, and a flavor like fruit or chocolate) and doesn’t include preservatives, chemicals, artificial colors, or artificial flavors.
Gelato that is stacked high usually means it’s got preservatives. Gelato outside of a cool container (like stainless steel bins you’ll see at quality gelaterie) without preservatives and chemicals would just melt.
Bright colors? Probably a bad sign. The gelato should reflect what the actual fruit or food looks like when crushed or mashed and added to gelato. Pay particular attention to pistachio gelato (should be a dull brownish-green, not bright green) and banana gelato (should be a grey-ish brown, not bright yellow).
Is the shop selling anything besides gelato? If so, give it a pass. An excellent gelateria focuses on gelato, and nothing else. Get your pizza slice at the pizzeria next door.
Gelato Flavors to Try in Florence
- Buontalenti – named after Bernardo Buontalenti, the Florentine who invented gelato in the 1960’s at Gelateria Pasticceria Badiani. It’s a creamy flavor.
- Pistacchio (pistachio)
- Crema (cream)
- Fiordilatte (‘flower of milk,’ made with the best milk)
- Nocciola (hazelnut)
- Limone (lemon)
- Cocomero (watermelon)
- Fichi (figs)
The Best Gelato in Florence
(via dei Tavolini, 19r. +39 055.2398969)
This little gelateria tucked into a side street has been serving its creamy gelato to Florentines since 1939. Its name translates to ‘Why Not?’ which I ask myself each time I walk by. The owners are delightful and so passionate about creating high-quality, flavorful gelato for their customers. I love the delicate flavors like lavanda (lavender), cacchi (persimmon), or miele e sesamo (honey sesame). I’ve never been disappointed. If you’re in centro and can’t bring yourself to walk out to Gelateria de’ Medici, stop by the excellent gelateria Perchè No.
Good To Know: They have a tiny bench across the lane from the shop – snag it to give your legs a rest and do a little people-watching while you enjoy your cone (or cup)!
Gelateria de’ Medici
(Piazza Beccaria, 7r. +39 055.3860008)
It’s the best of the best! We even had a cart full of Gelateria de’ Medici gelato at our wedding. De’ Medici uses the freshest, in-season ingredients and they have incredible combinations. For example, try basilico (basil) and pinolo (pine nut) together and you’ll taste – that’s right, pesto! It’s worth the little walk to Piazza Beccaria and you can saunter down the pedestrian shopping street Borgo La Croce on your way there and back. It’s so good, I even take my kids there after a visit to their dentist (it’s just around the corner, and yes, I know I’m not winning a mom award for it).
Good To Know: There’s some seating in front of the shop, but it’s near the busy street. Take your cone and wander back toward centro and do some window shopping along the way.
(Piazza Tasso, 11r. +39 055.512.0336)
We often stop by this gelateria in the evening and there is almost always a line of locals waiting for their fix. It’s in Piazza Tasso, which is just inside the city walls. It’s relatively new on the scene but has been welcomed with open arms. The husband-wife team is passionate about gelato, and it shows! My husband loves to get a ‘yo-yo,’ a gelato ‘sandwich’ made with gelato stuffed between two wafers.
Good To Know: This is a nice spot to get gelato with kids in the late morning or early afternoon because you can walk across the street to the small playground in Piazza Tasso.
Good To Know: La Sorbettiera has opened a second location in Santo Spirito, at via Mazzetta, 9/a.
Gelateria La Carraia
(Piazza Sauro, 25r. +39 055.280695)
This is one of my son’s favorites, and he’s in good company, as you’ll see by the lines out the door, especially in the evening. Don’t worry – the long lines move quickly.
It’s a good pick if you want to get a gelato and wander onto the bridge (Ponte alla Carraia).
We love the mousses, the fruit flavors (cantaloupe and watermelon) and special flavors like cantuccino (cream with Tuscan biscotti) and After Eight Mint (kind of like Junior Mints).
Good To Know: One bridge over, toward the Ponte Vecchio, is Gelateria Santa Trinita. It’s pretty similar to La Carraia. Try the mascarpone or black sesame flavors!
Good To Know: If you’re in the Santa Croce neighborhood, you can stop in at the second La Carraia location near Piazza Santa Croce (via dei Benci, 24/r).
Gelateria della Passera
(via Toscanella, 15, +39 055.291882)
I don’t go out of my way to get gelato here, but having a scoop here is worth it if you’re nearby. Piazza della Passera is charming and on a summer evening, it (and the surrounding side streets) feels like a movie set. It’s a good stop after dinner (at a pizzeria or a Michelin-starred restaurant) or for a pre-dinner snack.
They have a small but creative selection of gelato and sorbetti. Try the mojito in the summer!
(via Ricasoli, 60r. +39 055.289476)
This is the place to go if you’re craving a granita or a fruit-flavored gelato or sorbet. The owner is from Sicily and you can feel the Sicilian inspiration in the gelato flavors – along with citrus combos, you’ll also find delicious cannoli gelato. This is my favorite place for fichi (fig) gelato in the summer or after a visit to see Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery.
(via del Campanile, 2. +39 055.216158)
Yes, Grom is a chain. But this chain does gelato right. I’m a huge fan of the salted caramel and their monthly specialties. I appreciate that they show where they source their ingredients (whenever possible, from Italy).
Good To Know: Grom’s gelaterie are gluten-free.
(via de Ginori, 49r, +39 393.0696042)
New-ish on the Florence gelato scene, this tiny place is run by a passionate husband-wife team who source their ingredients from the nearby Mercato San Lorenzo. Try their fiordilatte with mint and basil, black sesame, or stick with their excellent classic flavors.
Other Popular Gelaterie in Florence
Gelateria dei Neri
(via dei Neri, 9/11r. +39 055.210034)
This place has a loyal following, especially amongst the study abroad crew and returning visitors. The shop has delicious flavors like cheesecake with berries, salted caramel and ricotta and pistachio cream. The granite (granitas) are some of the best in Florence, especially the mango flavor.
(via Isole delle Stinche, 7r. +39 055.292334)
Famous in Florence and serving gelato to Florentines since 1929, Vivoli serves up an excellent scoop. Don’t ask for a cone (they say it detracts from the flavor of the gelato), and don’t expect a lot of ‘bang for your buck.’ Still, the quality is high, and the classic flavors of gelato are worth a visit. If you love coffee, this is the place to try an affogato – a coffee with ice cream.
Good To Know: Vivoli also has a nice selection of pastries.
Gelateria Pasticceria Badiani
(viale dei Mille, 20r. +39 055.578682)
Badiani, the proclaimed birthplace of gelato, is still serving up artisanal gelato, including its special buontalenti flavor. The shop is large and in addition to gelato, it also has a selection of beautiful pastries.
Good To Know: Badiani is close to the Campo di Marte train station and about a 30-minute walk from the Duomo. If you’re not up for the walk, take the train or a quick taxi.
(via Calimaruzza, 2-4. +39 055.288505)
(via Calzaiuoli, 65r. +39 055.264339)
Venchi is a famous Italian chocolate brand, and they serve chocolate gelato as well. The stores’ walls of liquid chocolate draw the crowds in and many people leave with a cone. I recommend the dark chocolate sorbetti (sorbets).
(via Pietrapiana, 60r. +39 055.2346014)
Il Procopio has classic flavors and some interesting combos as well, like cioccolato al peperoncino (a spicy chocolate).
(Piazza del Duomo, 45r. +39 055.281055)
Organic gelato right with a view of the Duomo. Stop into the small gelato shop for a frozen treat after you’ve climbed the Cathedral’s dome or Giotto’s bell tower. They have some quirky and interesting flavors that are hit-or-miss.
Good To Know: Edoardo’s gelato doesn’t just contain natural ingredients – it’s certified biologico (organic), which is a big deal here in Italy. Many places (farms, restaurants, etc) in Italy are organic but don’t want to go through the difficult and expensive process to get certified. Going through with it shows a huge commitment on the part of Edoardo.
La Strega Nocciola Gelateria
(via Ricasoli, 16r, and other locations. +39 055.217375)
La Strega Nocciola has a cult-like following among tourists. I don’t know of any locals who get gelato here, but the shop has plenty of visiting fans that flock for its classic flavors like buontalenti and nocciola.
How to Order Gelato in Florence
You’ll almost always order and receive your gelato first and then pay for it. If in doubt, watch the people in line in front of you.
- Choose a cup or cone.
- Choose how many scoops.
- Choose your flavors.
- Pay at the register.
Good To Know: Want to try a flavor before you order? Go for it, but it’s best not to ask to sample 5 different flavors, especially if there’s a long line of customers waiting.
Gelato in Florence Helpful Vocabulary
|un assaggio||oon ahs-SAHJ-joe||taste/sample|
|un cono||oon COH-no||a cone|
|una coppetta||oo-nah kope-PEHT-tah||a cup|
|un gusto||oon GOOSE-toe||one flavor|
|due/tre gusti||doo-eh / treh GOOSE-tee||two/three flavors|
|per favore||pair fah-VOH-ray||please|
|vorrei…||vor-RAY||I would like…|
|quanto costa?||KWAHN-toe KOHS-tah||how much does it cost?|
Florence Gelato FAQ
Yes! Many say that gelato was even invented in Florence in the 1960s. There are fantastic gelaterie scattered throughout the city.
Yes, you’ll find a gelateria in all but the tiniest of Tuscan villages (and sometimes they have a gelateria too!). Some other well-known gelato shops in the area include Gelateria Dondoli in San Gimignano and Gelateria di Castellina in, you guessed it – Castellina (in Chianti).
Yes, most gelato shops (gelaterie) in Florence have vegan options. You can ask ‘È vegano?’ (Is it vegan?). Usually the sorbetti (sorbets) are vegan, but it’s always a good idea to ask.
You can ask ‘È senza glutine?’ (Is it without gluten?). It’s a good idea to tell them you’re celiac (Sono celiaca/o) if that’s the case, so you can find out if contamination is an issue or not.
Florence has an uncommon address system for businesses. The ‘r’ after a number in a Florentine address (for example: via de Ginori, 49r) just means it’s a business, versus a personal residence.