It’s starting to heat up all over Italy and with it comes a true changing of the seasons. Italians have a beautiful way of existing around mother nature. Around June 1st, as the spring breezes die down, and the sun begins to beat down a little harder, mothers and grandmothers all over Italy are pulling down the family’s summer clothes that have been stored for almost a year. The beaches are “open” for all to enjoy; the afternoon snack that for so many months was destined to consist of bread and cold cuts or a slice of pizza has now been replaced with gelato. Yes, you read it correctly. It is perfectly acceptable, and even considered healthy, for all to indulge in a late afternoon gelato.
It is not surprising that, like all things in Italy, gelato is deeply rooted in tradition. Although sorbets and icy desserts probably existed as early as the Old Testament times, gelato as we know it today was invented by two Florentines. A man named Ruggeri won a competition for a unique dessert that was organized by the Medici family. His version of gelato was so popular that Catherine de’ Medici wanted to take Ruggeri with her when she moved to France to marry Henri d’Orleans. The other Florentine credited with the invention is probably more famous- Bernardo Buontalenti. Yes, we in fact owe much gratitude to the famous sculptor, architect, painter and designer who devised a way to store snow in its solid form which allowed for the addition of cream and eggs.
The rest is history. Thankfully, for gelato-lovers all over the world, innovative chefs and artisans continue to invent and re-invent this frozen divinity with unique flavors and textures. One of the most unique ways to experience cutting-edge gelato is at the Gelato Festival in Florence. You may have already had the chance to experience the festival in April when it made its appearance in Florence for the preliminary round. It since has traveled throughout Italy and Europe gracing everyone with its amazing flavors and talent. It’s back in Florence for the All Stars awards on September 14-16, 2018 in Piazzale Michelangelo.
I really can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be than tasting heavenly gelato flavors ’til my heart’s content (or my palate in this case) while overlooking the magnificent city of Florence from the Piazzale. The best part is that tickets are available online prior to the event (which means no cues) and they are all-inlcusive! You and a panel of professional judges will be voting for your favorites. You won’t want to miss this event that will go on to crown the World Master of Gelato in 2021. Sounds like a good 3-year travel goal to me (location to be announced).
Copyright photos: gelatofestival.it, europeanjournal.eu, italyxp.com