New in 2024:
Gelato in Venice
An introduction to Italian ice cream, with a guide to Venetian gelaterie.
Gelato, the Italian ice cream, is one of the best food bargains in Venice. For €2 or less, you can buy a cone or cup of tasty gelato made with milk, sugar, and flavorings that range from fresh fruit to coffee, hazelnuts, or tiramisù.
If the thought of clogging your arteries with cholesterol makes you feel guilty, take heart: Gelato typically has less than half the butterfat content of Anglo-Saxon ice cream, so you can eat twice as much before your blood vessels are blocked. [Disclaimer: The previous statement is literary hyperbole, not legitimate medical advice.]
Gelaterie are scattered throughout the city, so you're never far from an inexpensive ice-cream fix. Like the product they sell, gelato vendors come in several flavors:
The best gelato comes from artigianale or artisanal producers who make fresh gelato every day on the premises, but there's no need to be obsessive about labels: Any gelato is better than none, and if you want something even better, you can always try the next gelateria and the one after that.
Tips for buying gelato:
A sampling of Venetian gelaterie:
Il Doge, on the southern edge of the Campo Santa Margherita, has been a longtime favorite with our family. Try the tart and refreshing limone, which is reminiscent of a French sorbet.
Note: The Campo Santa Margherita has several ice-cream shops, but in our opinion, Il Doge has better gelato--and offers better value--than its competitors. (It also has a consistently friendly staff, and it's open fairly late into the evening. Look for a newer satellite branch of Il Doge just north of the Campo San Tomà in San Polo.)
Gallonetto (formerly WalksInsideVenice. It's also recommended by several guidebooks.) gets a big thumbs-up from us, and from the three Venetian guides who operate
The tiny shop, which was remodeled and renamed in 2021, has been family-owned since 1985. It's on the Salizzada San Lio in Castello, not far from the Campo Santa Maria Formosa.
is the creation of an ice-cream artisan named Carlo Pistacchi who concocts imaginative--and often delightful--gelato flavors from such unlikely ingredients as carciofi (artichokes) and cardomom.
Paolin, on the Campo San Stefano, has a good reputation. Take-out prices are on the high side. (To its credit, Paolin has outlasted the Häagen-Dazs shop that opened nearby and failed to to win over Paolin's customers.
Nico, a popular gelateria and bar on the Zattere in Dorsoduro, is more expensive than most of its rivals. Still, the location is hard to beat: You can enjoy a gelato or an ice-cream concoction as you watch ferries, vaporetti, and ships cruise along the Giudecca Canal.
Gelateria Rosa Salva, on the Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo, is a popular stop with tour groups. Its prices are stiff, and portions are downright stingy.
Gelateria C'a D'Oro is hard to miss if you're walking from the railroad station to the Piazza San Marco or vice versa: It's on the Strada Nova, the main pedestrian route through Cannaregio, just west of the Campo SS Apostoli. Prices are reasonable, the gelato is tasty, and the shop is open until fairly late in the evening.
Durant Imboden has
written about Venice, Italy since 1996.
He covered Venice and European travel at About.com for 4-1/2 years before launching
Europe for Visitors (including
Venice for Visitors) with Cheryl
Imboden in 2001.
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