Eating ALL the Gelato in Florence

I think it’s safe to say there are hundreds of places that sell gelato in Florence and we wanted to make sure we got the best of the best. Matt did a lot of research before we left and largely used this article to figure out where to go.

In order to give those of you living vicariously through this blog the full experience of Florence gelato, we figured we needed to try as many of the top places as possible.

So we did…and ended up eating gelato seven times in two and a half days.

My flavour of choice is lemon and Matt’s is some sort of berry flavour with chocolate following a close second for both of us. In order to figure out who had the best of these flavours, we stuck to them pretty much every time.

The article proved invaluable as the one time we strayed from it, we ended up with a pretty average gelato. Name and shame? I think so.

Bar Due Ponti provided us with the worst gelato out of the bunch (bad gelato is still pretty good so it’s not like we didn’t enjoy it). What left a bad taste in our mouths (see what I did there) was that we got half as much as other places for double the price. Should’ve know better as it was near the Ponte Vecchio and clearly targeted at tourists but to be fair, it was the only place in the area that had a place for us to sit down after a morning full of walking.

Bar Due Ponti

Second from the bottom was Gelatissima. Also located by the Ponte Vecchio but unlike the other place, not blatantly trying to just get money out of tourists. This place was actually really good (as you can tell from the photo as I couldn’t wait until after Matt took a picture to have a taste) but I was a little disapointed in the lack of flavours.

Gelatissimo

Carabé comes in at number three. Rumored to take the top spot for gelato in Florence our hopes were high for this one. Especially when a couple articles said it had the best lemon gelato in the city. Carabé is on the way to Accademia (which houses the statue of David) so we had to make our way through a lot of tourists to get there. It may have been the time of day (gelato for breakfast!) but there weren’t many flavours on display. Lemon was one of them but unfortunately it didn’t live up to the hype. The flavour was definitely the best but the texture wasn’t nice and soft like it’s meant to be.

Carabe

Festival del Gelato was definitely the busiest of the stores we visited and for good reason. Definitely recommend them on selection alone (over 40 flavours), it took us a while to decide which flavours to get. Add in the flouro lights and loud music…who wouldn’t love a gelato disco! They were also the only store that had orange chocolate which made them a contender for my favourite place.

Festival del Gelato

It’s a tie for first place since Matt and I both had different favourites. Matt’s was Gelateri dei Neri where the Chocolate Amaro flavour “tasted like an amazing dark chocolate bar was melted and turned in to Gelato”.

Gelateria dei Neri

Mine was Vivoli. Largely regarded as the best gelato in Florence, it was the only place we went to twice. Their lemon flavour was my favourite for both taste and texture and the chocolate was amazingly rich and delicious.

Vivoli

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go wipe the drool from my face and look up flights back to gelato heaven…

Advertisements

Firenze

If I was to sum up our time in Florence in to one sentence I would probably have to go with “That holiday we went on where we walked around a lot and ate ALL the Gelato”.  So much (amazing) Gelato was eaten that we’re going to have to do it justice with a whole other post on just our Gelato eating exploits.

So what did we get up to in Florence other than eat Gelato?

Well we got off to a bit of a rough start when we left the train station armed only with the street address of our hotel and a rough idea of the general direction to walk in.  Turns out a map would have been a great idea as we drifted off in the wrong direction and turned a 15 minute walk in to an hour of getting grumpy at each other’s stupid ideas for directions.  Through a bit of a fluke we did stumble upon our hotel eventually and got to drop our bags before setting off to explore Florence.

And what a city to explore!

Our first taste of Florence was the walk along Arno river from our Hotel towards the main (tourist) part of town with the sun setting behind us.

Me by the Arno

A series of beautiful bridges spans the river so we ended up getting a little trigger happy with the camera.

Arno

Eventually we got to Ponte Vecchio to cap it off.  It’s a unique looking bridge due to the amount of buildings squeezed on to it – it looks  like it should be sagging under the weight of them (pretty much all jewellery stores in case you’re curious).

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

Once we hit Ponte Vecchio we set off to get lost in the winding cobbled lanes.  This first walk around the city was repeated every day as we wandered around and every day we seemed to uncover another area we hadn’t explored yet.  The winding lanes are all walled in by old stone buildings punctuated by the odd giant square every now and then so it’s easy to go around in circles without anything to walk towards.  You do sometimes get a glimpse of the giant Duomo to head towards though.

Duomo

Duomo

We found out the hard way that Italians like to eat late.  We would be hungry at say 6/6:30 but  a lot of the restaurants didn’t even open until more like 7:30/8.  Even then there wouldn’t be many people in them until after 9 so it made choosing somewhere to eat a bit hard.  At least everywhere gives you free bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (can’t go wrong with that!).

We suffered a bit of a let down on the food front probably due to our high expectations and the fact that some of the restaurants we went to were aimed at tourists where they didn’t expect repeat business anyway.  We did have some wins with food too (as well as on the Gelato front where every time was a win) – the number one recommended restaurant on TripAdvisor even lived up to its glowing reviews.  All’Antico Vinaio is this fast paced little sandwich shop which had queues out the door every time we walked by.   I learnt on our visit there that the best way of ordering is to let the guys behind the counter just take over and choose most of the ingredients for you.  I ended up with an amazing salami sandwich on freshly baked focaccia bread with mozzarela, sun dried tomato, sweet pepper sauce and a few other things which I didn’t really catch but sounded good.  It was definitely worth the 4 odd euro for the sandwich!

Yummy Sandwiches

We spent so much time walking around the city that most of the money we spent ended up being on drinks.

Wine and food

Free food when you buy a bottle of wine!

I think we did our bit for the Eurozone debt crisis by propping up Italian beer and wine companies.  We got all of this after a particularly long slog around town in the heat:

All the drinks

All the drinks

One of the things Florence is famous for is it’s art so we of course had to check out at least one of the museums.  The most famous museum there is the Uffizi gallery which often has queues out the door with people waiting for hours just to get in.  I managed to book tickets via phone to jump the queues which I wasn’t sure had worked (I had booked something but wasn’t sure what due to the fast speaking Italian lady on the other end of the phone).  Turns out it had worked fine and we got in bright and early and avoided the crowds forming outside.

Unfortunately neither of us was too impressed by most of the art there other than the few famous paintings that we recognised (maybe we weren’t in “museum-y” moods).  I did love the fact that the paintings have been there for hundreds of years though. Oh, and if you’re blind then don’t let that stop you going to the Uffizi – they cater to the blind as well (hot tip for all our visually impaired readers).

Art for the blind

One common theme of Italian art that we couldn’t help noticing is the tiny…err…”representations” of the men in all the statues.  Also the sheer number of these tiny representations is crazy.  We lost count in the Uffizi somewhere around 40 but the naked statues are everywhere.  It’s definitely a different representation to that of say, Maori statues.

Touching the floor

David

Not so much touching of the floor here

So after a few days we noticed some common themes of all the statues we were seeing.  They seem to be grouped in to a few different categories of statue.  There’s the classic Statue of David type ones of just one guy posing (like the one above);  there’s some weird orgy ones with everyone all over each other; and then there’s the weird violent ones with naked guy’s beheading people and holding up there heads.  I don’t really get it but hey, they’re all very well carved though I’m sure.

Weird Statue

Statue

Statue

We spent one afternoon slowly making our way to Piazzale Michangelo to see the view (we got distracted by a few restaurants and bars on the way).  It is pretty much just a car park as I heard it described before we went but it was worth the walk up the hill just for the view alone.

Florence

Florence

We spent an afternoon exploring Boboli Gardens, another spot famous for it’s views across Florence.  Our romantic stroll in the gardens took a turn for the worse though when Dayna ended up in tears from being eaten alive by the bugs there.  I don’t know what it is they love about Dayna because for the most part they left me alone.  We did still manage to explore most of the gardens and soak in some of the views of the hills around Florence and I loved it anyway (can’t speak for Dayna who was left bleeding and itchy).

Gardens

Gardens

Lizard

face

Gardens

Gardens

Gardens

A spot we returned to most nights (along with most of the tourists) was Ponte Vecchio.  This bridge is famous for being a romantic spot where couples come to add a lock to the railings but we felt takings photos of the locks was enough for us (because we have enough romance in our lives already right Dayna?).

Locks

The main attraction of Ponte Vecchio at night was the buskers that set up in the middle of the bridge.  It was a great spot to just relax and listen to live music.

Busking on the Ponte Vecchio

Busking on the Ponte Vecchio

I think we both felt like we had an actual holiday at the end of our stay in Florence.  It’s really the first proper trip we’ve done since travelling around SE Asia (other than our little Brighton/Bath road trip) and it felt a lot easier and more relaxing than that for sure.  The pace of life in Italy is a lot slower and being able to understand a bit of the language also helps (well more than in Asia anyway).  I felt like I could speak Italian after a few days of adding “-o’s” to the end of words and learning new phrases (when a waiter said Prego to Dayna the first time I thought he might of been asking if she was pregnant but turns out he was just saying “Of course”).

Random thing we started noticing in Italy was the funny little cars they drive. This is just a few of the ones we saw but it was pretty common to see tiny little things with three wheels driving around.

small cars

Weird cars

More weird cars

All up, Florence would be very high up on my list of favourite holiday destinations and I’m sure we’ll be back there again.  I think the Gelato alone will bring us back there actually but I’ll leave that for our next blog!

Until next time, I’ll leave you with this little postcard.

Funny postcard

From Matt and Dayna

Buongiorno Italia

Alley way

After a relatively smooth 2 hour flight with the infamous Ryanair (they’re not that bad!), we arrived in Pisa late Thursday night. There was a bit of confusion when we booked our Pisa accommodation so we were a little worried that the night may be spent sleeping under a bridge. Our worries nearly came true when the guy that was meant to pick us up wasn’t there when we arrived. We ended up walking out of the airport, waiting around for a bit and then going back in eventually to see the sign with Matt’s name on it.  We confused the poor man by awkwardly coming to meet him from an entirely different direction than he was expecting.

Michele is a very sweet man who reminds me of a turtle with the voice of Luigi. He was very helpful and showed us around the area as we drove to his guesthouse. Once there, he made a point of telling us which room we had booked and surprised us with a free upgrade! The conversation went a little like this (just imagine his broken English with an Italian accent):

“You booka dis rooma here with share-ed bathrooma, si?? Di dooble rooma for one night, you remember dis? You booked it.”

<us nodding>

“So I know dis and I give you new room with own bathrooma. It is very nice and I give to you, no charge. And tomorrow I show you room you were meant to have.”

Arrived safe and sound in Pisa and got a free upgrade on our room! Also, LOVE the Italian accent.

We didn’t get to see the room we were meant to have and we’re not too sure why that was important. Either way, the one he gave us was indeed very nice and once Michele gave us a very thorough tour and the wee-fee ackchess (wifi access) we were left to watch badly dubbed-over TV before drifting off to sleep (CSI in Italian doesn’t improve the show apparently).

The next day after breakfast (which Michele cooked, he does everything at the guesthouse), Matt asked if he had a safe place for us to keep our things while we explored Pisa before catching the train to Florence. An honest question, but one that was met by a look that said Matt had offended him to his innermost soul.

“It is safe because it is my guesthouse.”

His ‘safe place’ was on the floor of kitchen, so kind of a fair question!

Leaving our bags behind, we headed to cross off #61 from our list – Take cheesy photos by the leaning tower of Pisa.

Coming up to the tower was an experience in itself. We had got a bit lost trying to find it (which Matt’s always saying is the best way to see a city. He’s right, but don’t tell him that) but suddenly turned a corner and it was right in front of us. You see so many photos of the leaning tower so seeing it in real life is quite a trip. I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t another picture and I was experiencing it in real life.

Leaning Tower

Accomplishing our goal was actually pretty hard. We had to climb up on these concrete posts to get into position:

Trying to get up

Then we had to awkwardly twist our hands so that it lined up properly in the shot (just look at the concentration in Matt’s face):

Holding it up

But we managed to get a couple decent ones (apparently some Asian tourists thought we were doing a good job so they were snapping photos of us posing as well):

Holding it up

Pushing it down

Us
We wandered back through the city to pick up our safe bags and had an interesting antipasto platter for lunch before catching our train to Florence.

Hover over the photos for captions and as always, there’s a bunch more on Flickr.

Ruins

Dayna

Riverside

Tiny church

Crooked building

Train

Antipasto lunch