The Best Place To Get Gelato In Italy, According To Stanley Tucci

Italy and gelato go together like ... well, most good things in life. Undoubtedly one of the country's most famous treats, gelato is synonymous with indulgence, flavor, and authenticity — especially when done right. That said, when it comes to scouring Italy for the best scoop, things can get a little tricky. Whether it's tourist-focused gelaterias trying to draw you in with cheap tricks or overpriced scoops that don't live up to the hype, it's easy to get lost in the options.

Luckily, TV host, author, and actor Stanley Tucci isn't just going to let that fly. Backed by his extensive, first-hand knowledge of Italian food and culture — both of which are showcased in his TV series, "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy" — the star is all about helping travelers navigate the often overwhelming world of Italian cuisine to find authentic, delightful experiences. And although Tucci doesn't consider himself "a big gelato eater" according to a 2022 conversation with Eating Well, there's one specific spot that stands out in his mind: Vivoli Gelateria in Florence.

Sampling some classic gelato at Vivoli Gelateria

Home to what's considered the best gelato in all of Italy (according to travel experts and casual tourists alike), Florence is often hailed as the birthplace of modern gelato, with local spots serving the best of the best in terms of freshness, flavor, and texture. Vivoli Gelateria is no exception.

Tucked away just a quick 10-minute walk from Florence's iconic Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the family-owned gelato shop has been in business since 1929, which makes it the oldest gelateria in the city. With its old-fashioned and classic look, the gelato spot is favored by both locals and tourists alike and currently boasts a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor with more than 2,000 reviews.

Specializing in traditional Italian goodies like affogato — a combination of espresso and gelato — as well as pastries, cakes, cookies, and homemade gelato with no additives or artificial flavors, Vivoli is all about celebrating Florentine tradition. Specifically, in terms of its gelato, the shop doesn't serve cones — only cups — and all of the ingredients it uses are homegrown by the owners themselves, except for the pistachios and hazelnuts. Honestly, it doesn't get any more authentic (or delicious!) than that.

Spotting authentic gelato in Italy

One of the standout qualities of authentic gelato is how fresh and natural it looks and tastes. This means you probably won't find any neon yellow or bright green options while trying to make your pick at a place like Vivoli — unlike what you might see at the classic tourist traps near most major attractions in Italy.

With this in mind, it's worth noting that, when it comes to finding some really good and authentic gelato in Italy, it usually all boils down to one very simple thing: how the shop displays its gelato options. This typically means staying far, far away from joints that showcase sky-high mountains of gelato. Instead, the gelato should be in metal tins and only to the top of the tin (to avoid melting). In addition to this, one other thing you'll want to avoid in terms of choosing a gelateria includes paying attention to places that claim to sell "fresh" gelato made out of fruits or ingredients that aren't even in season. Why? Because it's a dead giveaway that what you're tasting isn't real fruit, just some sort of artificial sweetener.

At the end of the day, while tourist-focused gelaterias typically peddle to travelers who are just in it for the convenience and flair, authentic gelato, like the one served at Vivoli, doesn't need to overwhelm — it just needs to delight.