By Marina Nasi
Yes, sure: we all know that Bologna is renowned for tortellini, lasagne, mortadella and crescentine. But what your guidebook probably didn't tell you is that real local foodies have only one topic for debate: which is the best gelato in Bologna. The last few years have seen a massive improvement in the already good local ice cream art, taking it to peaks of excellence. As a gelato lover and food connoisseur myself, I embarked in the lovely task of verifying all information and trying every gelato in Bologna. And again. And again. So here's the ultimate top ten if you want to taste the best of Bologna's ice cream - heaven under the porticos of this Italian city.
“Who? You mean Stefino?” is what you'll hear from locals who still remember this gelateria in Bologna by its former name: we're a town of nostalgia, you'll soon learn. This renowned, multi-awarded gelato shop in Bologna is one of my two favourite in town and despite its humble look (just a kiosk on a not very fancy part of via Galliera) their organic, sustainable gelato is just a-ma-zing. What flavour? Don't miss Crema Mediterranea (Sicilian almonds and pistachios, pine nuts and amaretto liquor), any fruit sorbet and the free whipped cream.Vegan friendly? Definitely: loads of tasty seasonal options from fig to peach to almond to vegan pistachio.
Cremeria Santo Stefano
Here's my other gig love. Mouthwatering, creamy gelatos to die for and a tiny, adorable little gelato shop in Bologna with a French look and tasteful windows and décor, plus the option to look at the process at the adjacent lab. Cremeria are great with milk and egg based creams, but also manage to make soft and tasty sorbets. In Bologna, this ice cream is a must try. What flavour? Their Budino Provenzale is a stylish and more sophisticated evolution of classic flavour “bacio”, made with chocolate and walnuts. Also worth a mention, “Crema delle zitelle” (“Spinsters' cream”!) with mascarpone and melted chocolate. Vegan friendly? Try the amazing mango and passion fruit, available all year round, or the sunny and seasonal apricot.
Cremeria San Francesco
Residents of the Pratello area swear San Francesco make best in town. Despite suspecting there's some local pride there, this little gelateria in Bologna is owned by Francesca Poggi, a lover of organic ingredients and vegan flavours, provides really good quality gelato plus great pastries. Here you can find some of the tastiest ice cream in Bologna, and Italy! What flavour? Amedei ricotta (a rich, soft ricotta cheese cream with Amedei chocolate) and raw hazelnut. Vegan friendly? Indeed.
I often come to Delizie on my way to and from the Cinemateque (where I advise you to go if you're a film geek like me) and love their rich, creative and creatively named Bologna ice cream. I wouldn't go there if you’re on a diet, but if you want to reward yourself with some solid gelato from Bologna, that's the place. What flavour? Psyche has a secret mix of sultry creams. Vegan friendly? There's some fruit sorbet everywhere but I'd go here mostly for the milk and egg based creams.
Be prepared for a long queue at Funivia, because the central branch of this gelateria in Bologna- originally located near a funicular (hence the name) near the hills, where there's still their other shop - is always full. People are attracted by its fame, its central location and the richness of the best ice cream in Bologna and Italy. Do not go if on a diet! What flavour? Tortino Funivia, a luxurious cream of chocolate cake. Or, if you're from the States and feeling nostalgic, New York New York, with maple syrup and pecans. Vegan friendly? Yes, within moderation.
La Sorbetteria Castiglione
Life is too short for bad gelato in Bologna. Which is why I love La Castiglione so much. You will only find quality Bologna ice cream here. I love how serious the owners of this shop take their gelato in Bologna style. They are always looking at ways to improve their flavours and quality and have a strong focus on health by offering low-sugar, lactose-free, gluten-free ice creams that are vegan friendly. What flavour? The Cremino Ludovico, which features creamy ice cream with hazelnut and cocoa butter pralines and caramelized whole hazelnuts. Vegan friendly? Oh yes!
Stefino Gelato Biologico
This is such a great little gelateria in Bologna. Aside from offering delicious ice cream, this shop focuses on using only raw and organic ingredients. Think raw milk, sprouted brown rice milk, fresh fruit and fair trade Trinitarian cocoa and Arabic coffee... mmmm, it certainly makes for amazing gelato in Bologna. What flavour? The nougat is a winner, along with the Matcha ice cream and Wasabi gelato. Vegan friendly? Indeed.
Where can you taste some really delicious and unique gelato in Bologna? Il Gelatauro of course. This joint was founded in 1998 and is a much loved spot among the locals and artisan gelato lovers. Here you will taste some incredible Bologna ice cream as well as chocolate, biscuits, and pastries. What flavour? Pumpkin and cinnamon, spiced to the right point and providing loads of warmth and comfort. Vegan friendly? There's some fruit sorbet available, but it’s not the most vegan friendly gelateria in town.
Passion is what drives this gelateria in Bologna. In fact, the shop's motto is: “I live for the passion and my passion is the ice cream ” so you know you are in for some of the best ice cream in Bologna, and Italy. This is a family business that first started out way back in 1976 and their focus is on the customer. What flavour? The Vertical Limit, a creamy ice cream made from milk and hazelnut. Vegan friendly? Yes!
The Gelateria Mauritiu
For ten years this gelateria in Bologna has been serving the community some of the best ice cream in town. You will taste authentic Bologna ice cream here. Made with fresh ingredients, you can indulge in a gelato or cake while sitting at their outdoor patio in the Corticella park, so this is somewhere I like to come during the summer months when you can make the most of your ice-cream by savouring it in the park. What flavour? Delirium, made with mascarpone and soft chocolate - it really is deliriously good! Vegan friendly? There are fruit sorbets available, but this isn’t what I’d come here for.
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