When we travelled to Italy in September, the weather was sweltering, with the sun tanning our skin till we were several shades darker.Thankfully, we were lucky enough to be in Florence at the same time as the annual Gelato Festival Finale was taking place!
Gelato, for those not in the know, is basically Italian for ice-cream, and often considered lower in fat but higher in sugar than other styles of ice-cream, possessing a higher density and richness. In Italy, gelato is found on almost every corner in every city, many of which proudly stick a Yelp or TripAdvisor sticker on the windows. In all honesty, most of Italy’s gelato tastes great. But why go for great when you can go for the best?
After travelling Italy and beyond for 5 months, the final 18 contestants of the annual Gelato Festival set up store at Piazza Michelangelo from 1-4 September 2016. Piazza Michelangelo is a beautiful location situated atop a hill in the south of Florence, allowing gorgeous panoramic views of the city, and marked by an iconic replica of Michelangelo’s Statue of David.
To take part in the festivities, visitors can purchase a Gelato Card, a one stop pass that allows them to taste all 18 gelatos, as well as additional stores by promoters and sponsors. Prices start from €12 for just one card, but cost less the more cards you buy – an incentive to come with more friends (or make new friends)!
Of course, we had to try all 18 flavours available. Here they are in order:
Here’s a hot tip: bring along your own bottle of water before jumping in to try all the flavours. The festival itself doesn’t sell any water, but there is a water tap nearby that dispenses potable water, so feel free to keep going back to refresh those tastebuds and get the full flavour of all the gelato!
Alongside the competing flavours, some other activites included a Gelato Cocktail stall, booths by sponsors, such as Qatar with a special rose flavoured gelato and main sponsor Cookies The Original, as well as live cooking demonstrations. We caught a presentation by last year’s Gelato Fest winner Paolo Pomposi, who showcased his creation of an olive oil gelato served on bruschetta! Strange but delicious!
The winner of the Gelato Festival is decided by voting, which only Gelato Card holders can do at the venue itself. We came on the very last day, and voting officially closed at 630pm, when TV crew and other media came down to record the results.
At around 9pm, the winner of Gelato Festival 2016 was finally crowned – Finalist number 13, Eugenio Morrone, with his unique creation of Mandarino Tardivo [Mandarin Orange, Ginger and Peppermint] Check out the video of the final announcement here:
Congratulations to Eugenio and the rest of the contestants!
Overall, this was a really fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. You’d think we’d get sick of gelato after eating so much, but Italian gelato is surprisingly easy to consume, and the servings weren’t very big either, so in all honesty, we could probably have kept on going if we wanted to! We’re convinced that Italy truly is the home of the best gelato around, and that you should definitely pencil this activity into your calendar if you happen to be around wherever it’s taking place next year.