A day is not a day in Bologna without gelato. Whether you are living in Bologna or traveling in Bologna, it’s important to understand the world of Italian gelato. In this post, we share our local tips on how to find the best gelato in Bologna. But, it’s one thing to just look for the closest gelato shop or focus on a search for a gelateria in Bologna Centro. But, there is more to understanding gelato in Italy, and what truly is the best gelato. When looking for a Bologna gelateria, we want you to look for the best, and that means looking for artisan gelato.
Time needed: 10 minutes.
In this Bologna blog post, you will learn:
- What is artisan gelato and how to find it
We offer one major tip on how to tell whether a gelato is mass produced or artisanal
- How to find the best gelato in Bologna
We offer suggestions on where to go to find the best gelato!
- How to order gelato in Italy
We offer some tips for travelers to make the most of their Italian gelato experience.
What Is Artisan Gelato – The Best Gelato In Italy
The best gelato in the world is generally not smurf-colored. But, what does this mean? There is so much more to quality gelato in Italy than you might guess. There is a trend in Bologna many gelaterie are becoming specialists in artisan gelato. But, how do you tell whether gelato is of the highest quality; if it’s what might be called “artisan” gelato?
First, an artisan gelateria will only use natural products and no artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors. With no artificial coloring or flavoring, the gelato is not going to be bright red or purple, unless it is due to fresh fruits being added. Gelato makers may freeze fresh berries in the summer for use in the fall and winter – but they will not use artificial strawberry flavor in their gelato. This means that artisan gelato is not brightly colored like you’ll see elsewhere in Italy. If you see Smurf-blue gelato, it is certainly not artisan. With no artificial preservatives, it means gelato is fresh and generally made daily.
The second clue: pay attention to how the gelato is stored in the shop. Artisan gelato makers store their gelato not in giant vats, open to the air and the elements, but deep inside the countertop, temperature controlled and covered by a metal lid. This storage method controls the temperature so the gelato is not exposed to oxygen or light. This is particularly important because they don’t use artificial preservatives. Gelato makers take their job so seriously so they control the temperature within a tenth of a degree.
This doesn’t mean that other gelato shops don’t offer tasty treats as well. There is nothing wrong with popping into a more typical Italian gelato shop for a cone on a hot day. But, if looking for something truly special, look for shops that have the silver topped, under-counter vats.
How To Find a Great Gelateria In Bologna
Keeping this in mind, we offer recommendations for some of the best Bologna gelato shops. We offer gelato places that are more traditional, as well as those that specialize in artisan gelato. After the list, we include additional recommendations on how to learn more about gelato in Italy, particularly for travelers visiting Bologna.
La Sorbetteria Castliglione Bologna
Located a good 15-minute walk south of the Piazza Maggiore, La Sorbetteria is a traditional pastry shop as well as a gelateria. Their gelato has a creaminess and a softness on the tongue that is unique among the Bologna gelato shops. They are popular with locals and tourists alike, so try to avoid peak times to avoid the lines.
Cremeria Santo Stefano Bologna
Set on the outskirts of the old town center, Cremeria Santo Stefano has an almost cult-like following and is most people’s first recommendation for gelato in Bologna. Artisan gelato with typical flavors, as well as flavors of the month, including ricotta e visciole, or ricotta cheese and sour cherry. They also offer fresh fruit flavored gelatin candies, or gelatine, as well as freshly baked pastries.
Gelateria Galliera 49 Bologna
Often found on lists of top gelato shops in Italy, and known for their Sicilian granita, Galliera is well known among Bologna locals for their list of traditional flavors, as well as specials, including ricotta with pear and chocolate, and a version with local nougat. The owner is also a bit of a personality in his own right. If they have their gorgonzola and nut gelato, give it a shot!
Gelateria Gianni Bologna
Centrally located, just around the corner from the Mercato delle Erbe, Gianni doesn’t serve artisan gelato, but it is reliable and always busy. They have a few other locations in the city and are popular with locals. They are also a reliable spot to visit for an affogato, a gelato mixed with a shot of espresso. The perfect pick-me-up on a hot day.
Location: Via Monte Grappa, 11/A, 40121 Bologna BO
Gelateria Grom Bologna
A major gelato chain based in Turin, with locations as far west as . . . Hollywood, California. They also have locations in Emilia Romagna. They promise no artificial flavoring, coloring, or preservatives. Their caramello al sale is made with caramel and Himalayan pink salt. Or try an affogato, made with gelato and espresso.
Other Gelato Shops in Bologna
Another reliable option for gelato in Bologna includes OGGI, which stands for Officina Gelato Gusto Italiana. They are an Italian chain, which is spreading quickly. Their Bologna location on Via Ugo Bassi is in a prime location near the Mercato del Erbe. Or, if visiting Bologna’s famous two towers in the city center, try Il Gelato di San Crispino on Str. Maggiore. They specialize in flavors made with liquors and wine, definitely, a must try. If looking for gelato outside of the city center, check out Gelateria Scirocco Bologna on Via Agostino Barelli or Gelateria Funivia Bologna on Via Porrettana.
Gelato Museum Bologna
There is one way to learn more about gelato in Bologna. Just outside of the city is the Museo Del Gelato Bologna. Here’s it’s possible to learn about the history of gelato and ice cream as well as learn how to make gelato in Italy. Carpigiani Bologna manufactures some of the top gelato-producing machines in the world. They also operate the museum as well as their own Gelato University Bologna.
Carpigiani is one of the main manufacturers of ice cream machines and one of the oldest. Their headquarters is located on the Via Emilia, the food and wine route running through Emilia Romagna. They have ice cream cone art all over the walls, and even on the doors to the bathrooms. The museum includes information on the history of ice cream and shows off some historic gelato-related memorabilia.
Attending Gelato University
For a more intense immersion, you can take a full course at Gelato University, run by Carpigiani. It is a pretty intense affair that can run up to four weeks and cost thousands of dollars. The program is perfect for someone who is looking to open their own gelateria somewhere in the world. Alternatively, it is possible to take a one-hour course at Gelato University, which is more manageable for the average food traveler. During the first part of the experience, the gelato teacher explains all about gelato, and how it differs from ice cream, and sorbet. Then, the hands-on training begins.
Just like any other university, the best part of attending Gelato University is learning new skills, right? Wrong. The best part of attending Gelato University is actually getting to taste the gelato. As much as you want. In the end, it is possible to “graduate” from Gelato University, with a diploma and everything. If you really want to open your own gelato shop, however, it would be necessary to take the full course. Still, the diploma is a great souvenir and an interesting way to learn more about gelato.
Carpigiani Gelato University and Gelato Museum
The basic gelato workshop is called the Discovering Gelato Tour, which takes less than two hours and includes a hands-on demonstration. The Discovering Gelato Tour costs €20. A more thorough Gelato Masterclass costs €45 and lasts over 3 hours. Then there is the full-blown Gelato University for wannabe gelato professionals! If Gelato University is not a possibility, the museum alone is worth a visit, as it traces the history of gelato and ice cream from 12,000 BC to present times.
Carpigiani Gelato University and Gelato Museum on Via Emilia, 45, 40011 Anzola Emilia (BO). Carpigiani is located outside of Bologna in Anzola dell’Emilia. The Gelato Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., but reservations are required.
FAQs – Bologna Gelato
A cup or a cone of gelato in Bologna ranges from €2-5 depending on the quality of the gelato and the size of the portion. Many Bologna gelato shops offer many different sizes, from a piccolo (or small) to a large take-home size, and everything in between
At busier gelato shops, you might have to pay at the register, then take your receipt to the counter to actually choose your flavors. It’s customary for a single gelato cup or cone to have two flavors in one. Choose wisely by selecting flavors that complement each other.
Gelato is not merely the Italian word for ice cream. There are distinct differences between the two cold treats: Gelato generally has less fat than ice cream, mostly because it is made with whole milk, whereas ice cream is made with cream. Also, American-style ice cream has a lot of air churned into the product. With gelato, there is less air so it is smoother and creamier, despite having less fat.