The fourth of October was marked on my calendar with bright yellow highlighter and pink arrows because it was a very important Sunday, at last to me. That day marked the day of the Festival del Gelato that began in Florence in May, makes its way down the boot of Italy and ends in Florence at the beginning of October. Anyone who has been to Italy knows just how heavenly gelato can be and anyone who knows me knows my obsession with ice cream. So this was definitely right up my alley.
This Sunday was the same weekend as the archaeology excavation of Roman ruins in Fiesole, so this was the perfect way to end the weekend.
My Australian roommate, our new-found friend Randi, and I marched our way up to Piazzele Michelangelo and were greeted by throngs of people and a plethora of gelati to try. When you bought your pass for twelve euro, you got a gelati card that was good for five samples. When Americans think samples our minds immediately go to Costco samples, which are small, however abundant. The Italians have a different definition of sample apparently, because the cups of gelati we were given were completely overflowing and well worth at least two euro each.
There were tons of people and trucks, like food trucks, lining the piazza where you could line up to get gelato. The trucks were white like American ice cream trucks and had television screens that showed the name of the flavor and the ingredients. Also, each flavor had been the winner of the gelato contest that had been held in all of Italy. Each TV screen then showed the name of the creator of the flavor and where in Italy they were from, most were from Milan, Naples, Rome and Venice.
Taste One: We went with a semi-adventurous flavor here that consisted of pistachio, peanuts, hazelnuts and a cream base. It was a lovely combination of salty and sweet from the sugary cream base and the salty nuts. Solid 7/10.
Taste Two: This was completely decadent; cream base with homemade salted caramel and peanuts. The cream base tasted like a good simple sugar cookie covered in homemade salted caramel with roasted peanuts. Solid 8.5/10.
Taste Three: This flavor was so completely necessary because it was Nutella. Nutella comes from Italy (and is so much better here!) but this was Nutella gelato with warmed Nutella on top. This was by far the biggest cup that we got and at this point all three of us started to slow down. Nutella doesn’t even need a rating because it is just a staple here.
Taste Four: This flavor was straight up strawberry cheesecake. Creamy vanilla base with homemade strawberry jam mixed into it. Fruity and light. Solid 7/10.
Taste Five: We went out on a limb here which was very odd. It was a flavor that was in its own truck and being promoted. It was a lilac color with cereal on top. We thought we would go for it. The best way to describe it was that we were eating our grandmother’s houses and drinking their perfume. It wasn’t bad, however, it wasn’t good either. It was just something so odd that it was basically indescribably until you tasted it; all three of us agreed that it was like eating perfume.
The thing about gelato is that it’s the furthest thing from American ice cream, but also the closest thing. It is so creamy and decadent that it doesn’t melt in your mouth right away, it takes a moment and then it begins to melt on your tongue, the different flavor combinations spreading on your tastebuds making each one explode. Most gelati are pretty simple combinations but that just makes them so much better than American ice cream because you taste each flavor and how they interact with each other. It creates pure heaven in a cone.
All in all the gelato festival was a complete success and worth the twelve euro. By the end of it, we were all holding our stomachs and walked slowly back to our apartments, sluggish and lethargic. An end to a great Sunday.