Anyone traveling to Italy cannot come home without eating gelato. Gelato plays a huge role in the Italian culture. Every town in Italy has at least one gelateria. Even the local bars serve gelato which is ok in a pinch, but you will always find the best gelato in a gelateria.
In most gelato shops in Italy there is no orderly line, but instead many people standing around waiting to order gelato. As tourist, it can be very intimidating, which is why I am here to take you through the process of ordering gelato, so once you know how it works things flow much more smoothly.
Step 1: Flavors
The first thing you want to do is check out the flavors, or gusti in the case. Since gelaterie are heavily frequented, it's important to know what you want before you order. Instead of listing the flavors most gelaterie have the flavors usually artistically displayed right in front of you.
Most gelaterie have a great selection of flavors. The more popular flavors, such as cioccolato, nocciola, stracciatella, pistachio and caffè can be found in all locations. There are, however, certain gelaterie known for having over 100 hundred flavors, like Gelateria Vivoli in Florence. Here you can certainly find the popular flavors, along with unusual flavors such as avocado and sesamo croccante (sesame crisp).
For other unusual flavors you might want to head over to Gelateria Fatamorgana in Rome where they now have three locations. Open since 2003, they specialize in unique flavors such as parmigiano cheese, bruschetta, baklavà, basil, prunes with green tea, vanilla with rice, sesame, fennel honey and licorice, poppy seed, Kentucky, which is chocolate and tobacco, and Sicilian tomato, to name a few.
Another famous gelateria in Rome which offers unusual flavors is Gelateria Centro Storico located right in Piazza Monte d'Oro near Villa Borghese. There are over 25 different chocolate flavors alone, as well as flavors such as strudel, wasabi, celery, blue cheese, sunflower and chocolate, chocolate paprika with chili and cashew with Ceres beer.
Step 2: Pay
Find the cashier or cassa and pay first, making certain to obtain and retain the receipt. All you need to know at this point in the process is what size you want to order. Gelato comes in small, medium and large sizes and a sign with the corresponding prices is always displayed. The price is the same for a cup, coppa or a cone, cono, so it's not necessary to tell the cashier how you want your gelato.
Step 3: Be Agressive
Take the receipt back to the ice cream case and grab the server's attention. It helps to hold the receipt up in the air especially when the server looks as if he or she is ready to wait on the next customer. Don't be afraid to nudge your way to the frontâItalians are very used to this.
Step 4: Order
Now that it is your turn and you have given the server your receipt you can place your order. Tell the server if you want a cup or a cone. It is expected that you order at least two flavors. Even if you order a small proportion, you are allowed two different flavors. You can ask to taste a flavor with no commitment, but if there are a lot of people you will want to be considerate.
Lastly, enjoy! The best way to really savor a gelato is to take a passeggiata or sit on a bench and observe the view or people watch. Remember, although it is a dessert, gelato is not too bad for you, thanks to its pure natural ingredients, low fat and less sugar. In fact, they say it is healthier than a pizza margherita, so eat up!