Saturday, August 13, 2011

Vivoli Il Gelato (Florence, Italy)

Last Wednesday we took a day-trip from Siena to Florence.  I was particularly excited about this visit, not because I would get to see many statues of naked men (OK, I concede, Michelangelo's David was pretty incredible), but because a few people had mentioned to me that Florence is where good gelato can be found. Even though I had pretty decent gelato at Caffe Fonte Gaia in Siena, I was excited by the prospect of even better gelato.  (Remember, I'm quite a snob in this department)

Following a walking tour of the town that, yes, included a fair amount of nude statue-ogling - we ended up in Piazza Santa Croce with some free time to ourselves.  My ears perked up when our tour director recommended a place on a little street just a few minutes' walk outside of Piazza Santa Croce, called Vivoli, for gelato.  So what if it was time for lunch?  Gelato must be had!

Vivoli is a pretty cramped space that sells gelato but also coffee, salads, and probably other goodies that I wasn't paying attention to.  You first pay the cashier at the front and then bring the receipt over to the gelato lady and let her know what flavors you want.  Vivoli has a pretty good selection of gelato flavors.  I couldn't resist two of the rather unusual flavors: Sesamo Croccante (or Sesame Crisp) and Avocado.  I got a cup with a small scoop of each, and I think I paid 2.50 euros for it, and I absolutely loved it!  The avocado flavor isn't very strong, but it is quite good and tasted like what you would expect avocado gelato to taste like.  The sesame, complete with crispy bits of fresh toasted sesame, was absolutely divine.  As a huge fan of sesame, I was an instant fan of this gelato.

Vivoli il Gelato in Florence
Gelato at Vivoli

Sesamo Croccante and Avocado gelato at Vivoli in Florence
Avocado and Sesamo Croccante Gelato

Vivoli's gelato is very rich, and the flavors match what they should taste like, which unfortunately isn't something that can be said for some of the other gelato places I visited in Italy.  I mean, the Italians invented gelato right?  So they should all know how to make it well, no?  OK, apparently not.  The superior quality of the gelato at Vivoli is on par with my beloved Jeni's Ice Creams in Columbus (which by the way, was recently named one of top 5 ice cream parlors in the WORLD - and you wonder why I'm an ice cream snob).

After Vivoli, I set out to find another gelato place I had heard good things about.  I did find the place, which shall remain unnamed, and long story short, it was no match for Vivoli.  So despite having already had six (small) scoops of gelato that day, I went back to Vivoli later for one last treat before our day in Florence was to come to an end.  So maybe I had a lot of gelato that day, but hey, I did skip lunch!  That makes up for it, right?  Yes?? ;)

Sesamo Croccante & Chocolate Hazelnut gelato at Vivoli in Florence
Sesamo Croccante and Cioccolato Nocciola Gelato

This time, I just had to have the Sesamo Croccante again because it was so darn good, but for the second flavor I got the Cioccolato Nocciola (or Chocolate Hazelnut) which R. had enjoyed on our earlier trip to Vivoli that day.  The richness of the chocolate hazelnut reminds me of Jeni's Dark Chocolate ice cream - strong, flavorful, and phenomenal.

Vivoli was the knock-my-socks-off gelato that I had been searching for in Italy, and it remained the best gelato I had during this 10-day trip.  I only wish we got to stay in Florence longer so I could go back for more!

Restaurant info:
Il Gelato Vivoli
Via dell’Isola delle Stinche 7r, Firenze, Italia
Phone: 055/292334
On the web:

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