Two weeks in Italy. Summer. Temperatures soaring to 39 degrees- in the shade.

Gelato is a perfectly reasonable substitute for a meal, right?

For The Hungry One it’s nigh impossible to go past chocolate – though sometimes he’ll bend to vanilla studded with it and go for straciatella. For me? Hazelnut gelato is an absolute weakness. Hook me up with a single scoop in a cone and I’m the happiest of campers.

It seems here the true connoisseurs shun cones- but to me there’s nothing more gleeful than wandering around nursing something cold and sweet in a consumable container. It just feels…thrifty. With a finely patented twist and nip move I can make one scoop last for half an hour. The Hungry One will usually demolish his in around five minutes.

For anyone wanting to live vicariously, here’s quick run down on the favourites we found.

Rome
San Crispino
Vie della Panetteria, not too far from the Trevi fountain.

The best of the best. No cones. Just cups. Worth the wait in the queue. Closed Tuesdays.

Favourite flavours:
Ginger and cinnamon
Sardinian Acacia honey
Hazelnut meringue
Valhrona chocolate
Crema
Blackberry

Bologna
Gelateria Pecca
Via Marsala

A sweet little hole in the wall across the way from Enoteca Italiana; a delightful haven where four euro will have you scoffing a glass of ice cold Friuli and a panini with freshly shaved prosciutto. An espresso with a cloud of perfect crema and a gelato is all you need for the perfect lunch.

Flavours tried:
Dark chocolate
Crema
Hazelnut
Ricotta

Gelateria Il Sogno di Walter





At this sweet little place near the main square of Bologna even the cups come with kooky little hats of cone.


Flavours tried:
Blackberry
Marscapone
Dark chocolate
Straciatella

Il Gelatauro 

Il Gelatauro
Via San Vitale, 98/B

Considered by some to be the best gelaterie in all of Italy.

Il Gelatauro is on a slightly shifty looking street in the old town, towards the University but is worth the excursion for their slow food pedigree. There’s your standard strawberry and hazelnut but then they let it all go.

You’ll see specific regions assigned flavours- bringing their hero ingredients together for a sweet regional celebration. A Sicilian will have you eating gelato flavoured with cannoli and ricotta, a Principe di Calabria will be bergamot, jasmine and sponge cake. It tastes like afternoon tea at my grandmother’s in an ice cream. Then there are fruits and vegetables which are given a kick with spices like apple and cinnamon, or pumpkin with cinnamon. Worth a trip.


Florence

Carabe
60 Via Ricasoli
A Sardinian style gelataria, not far from the Duomo which is well known for its nut flavours. Both the hazelnut and the almond have a sound base and a nubbly texture where tiny fragments of nuts are suspended all the way through. It’s a little like crunch peanut butter.

Santa Trinita
Piazza Fresconbaldi 11

This artisan ice cream parlour was our favourite in Florence. It’s just near the Ponte S. Trinita, a happy walk with a cone back to the Ponte Vecchio. They scoop generously and the creamier flavours have a slow melting point. A bonus during hot days.

Flavours tried:
Hazelnut
Coffee
Sour cherry
Chocolate

Vivoli
Via Isole delle Stinche 7/R. Close to Piazza Santa Croce

Reputed to be one of the best in Florence -particularly when it comes to fruit flavours-Vivoli seems to be particularly popular with US exchange students. There are well worn dark wood tables if you want to eat in; but take away in a cup seems the most popular option.

Flavours tried:
Peach
Apricot
Strawberry
Plum- a winner