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“Gelato is to Florence like Starbucks is to Seattle- there is a strong gelato culture with a shop nearly every 20 meters! Florence is a tiny city- a village I like to say. You can walk from one end of the historic center to the other in 30 minutes tops!
In just the small quarter of Sant’Ambrogio spanning no more than 200 meters, there are at least 5 gelato shops within that neighborhood. Imagine how many are in the historical center from Piazza della Repubblica to Santa Croce- loads!

So how do you go about going to the good gelato shops in Florence if you are only in town for a few days or you just arrived on an extended trip and overwhelmed by the array of choices? There are also a few parameters in keep in mind when gelato hunting:
> Anything in “mound” form is not natural and is not artisanal.
> If it has a neon color, chances are it’s not going to be gourmet.
> Avoid gelato shops that also serve pizza inside. This communicates “fast food”.

Here are five of the best gelato shops in Florence you can’t miss:

1. Carabe’
Address: Via Ricasoli, 60R; Website: http://www.parcocarabe.it/
A Sicilian style gelato shop in stone’s throw from the Academia where the David is on display, has a strict motto for “quality without compromise.” All products are 100% natural and artisan made daily.
Here you can enjoy Sicilian granite which are a type of slush-ice dessert made from seasonal fruit and sometimes nuts like almond and pistachio, where they grow deliciously in Sicily. If you are a fan of citrus fruit gelato and sorbets, try the “Spirito Siciliano” which is a fragrant sorbet made with Sicilian sourced citrus fruits like mandarins and lemons.

2. Carapina
Address: Via Lambertesca, 18; Website: http://carapina.it/
This gelato shop is owned and operated by one of Italy’s most caring modern gastronomy purveyors, Simone Bonini. Celebrated by the nation’s most revered gastronomic journals like Gambero Rosso, Bonini has started a new kind of gelato shop which focuses on fine, raw ingredients and distinct flavors while celebrating regional traditions like a gelato flavored after Vin Santo, Tuscany’s most traditional dessert wine.
Address: Via Lambertesca, 18; Website: http://carapina.it/

3. Gelateria Badiani
Address: Viale dei Mille 20/r ; Website: http://www.buontalenti.it
In the very off-the-beaten-path residential neighborhood of Campo de’ Marte, lies one of Florence’s most famous gelato shops among native Florentines. During the warmer months, it is not uncommon to find locals perched outside till midnight with friends socializing over authentic Florentine flavors. It is said that the “Buontalenti” is the best in town at Badiani. Buontalenti and Crema Fiorentina are two of the oldest gelato recipes in Florentine history and dates back to the renaissance. They are simple flavors in a base of sweet cream, vanilla and a dash of dessert wine but have cultural significance in the world of Florentine gelato.

4. Il Procopio
Address: Via Pietrapiana 60r
Eccentric concoctions like La Follia (the madness) and high quality raw ingredients (like alpine fresh milk) define the characteristics of the completely handmade gelato production at Il Procopio. Classic flavors like dark chocolate and coffee gelato are not to be missed however this gelato shop is ideal for those with a curious appetite.
Creative mixes like Apple Pie and Sacher Torte or Il Procopio: a blend of dried citrus peel, caramelized fig and Sicilian almond, is award winning from the annual Gelato Festival in Florence. These gelato servings are to be highly considered.

5. La Sorbetteria
Address: Piazza Torquato Tasso 11R; Website: http://www.lasorbettiera.com
This is more like a gelato stand than a shop as there is no inside seating or store to take a cool off from Florence’s unforgiving heat. However, there is a little bench seating area in front of the stand where locals of the neighborhood slurp down their flavorful gelato before it melts away. Located in the Oltrarno near Piazza Santo Spirito in Piazza Tasso, this gelato stand is really good for more modern flavors like salted caramel, dark chocolate sorbet named “Tar” as well as a selection of refreshing citrus sorbets blended with Italian herbs like sage or mint. All gelato and sorbets are made from whole fruits and pure ingredients.

Source: Italy magazine.