A Reason to Fly to Italy: The Florence Gelato Festival

Florence, what some consider the mecca for gelato lovers, will host the Florence Gelato Festival from May 28th through the 31st. Gelato (to call it ice cream is to not do it justice) is practically a staple food in Italy and especially in Florence. The festival expected to draw 300,000 visitors to the city for the weekend event.

Piazzas and squares all over the city will turn into outdoor gelato markets where the public can line up to sample the rich, creamy ice cream served in biodegradable, earth-friendly cups. The Gelato Festival will also incorporate gelato-making demonstrations and games for children.

Visitors can also attend meetings and seminars in Piazza Santissima Annunziata to learn about the history and consumption of gelato in Florence, starting with the man who invented gelato – Bernardo Buontalenti, a 16th-century Florentine architect, painter, and food enthusiast – and continuing to present-day gelato artisans. These workshops will also educate participants about the range of techniques used in the production of gelato.

The festival aims not only to provide visitors with delicious ice cream, but also to educate foreigners about the quality and importance of gelato as an indispensable Italian product. Besides its large contribution to the Italian and global economy – gelato has increased in sales and production during the current recession – the unique ice cream is also recommended by some Italian doctors for the reported “happy effects” it produces in consumers. — Elaine Murphy