Italian Festivals of Gelato

by Gord Kerr
The art of making famous Italian ice cream is celebrated at gelato festivals.

The art of making famous Italian ice cream is celebrated at gelato festivals.

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If you love ice cream, a gelato festival in Italy is well worth planning your vacation around. As an added bonus to experiencing the history, heritage and charm of Italy, learn about making gelato in the dessert classes and visual demonstrations. Best of all, taste the creamy-smooth, uniquely flavored samples and vote for your favorite.


Italian gelato differs from regular ice cream in most of the world because it contains less air, which provides a more intense flavor. Gelato may be healthier; it contains all natural ingredients from fruit, cacao and nuts with fewer calories and less fat. Some of the many flavors include chocolate, banana, mint chip, almond, sour cherry and liquorices.


One theory is that gelato in Italy may have been introduced by Marco Polo in 1288 A.D. when he returned from China. When Bernardo Buontalenti, a native of Florence, introduced it to Catherine de' Medici during the mid 16th century, it became famous. It is also argued that the Arabs brought gelato to Sicily in the Middle Ages. In either case, the art of making gelato was passed down through generations and into the 20th century.

Florence Gelato Festival

The Florence Gelato Festival is an annual five-day event at the end of May that transforms Florence's main piazzas into a world of ice cream shops. In 2011, Medici Piazza Pitti hosted the Sammontana Village in Piazza della Repubblica. Italian gelato masters demonstrated the art of making gelato desserts. Samples from Gelaterias all over Italy presented unique flavors such as cinnamon, ginger, rose and licorice.

Sicily Sherbeth Festival

The Sherbeth Gelato Festival has been held every year since 2007 in Cefalu on the mid-north coast of Sicily. The name "Sherbeth" is an Arab term, first called the "sorbet Granite" ice cream, then became "sorbetto" in Italian. For four days, Cefalu transforms its historic centre into the Gelato Village for international gelato conferences and tastings that feature ice cream makers from around the world. Each demonstrates his craftsmanship and presents quality gelatos with many diverse flavors.

About the Author

Gord Kerr's professional background is primarily in business and management consulting. In 1991, Kerr started writing freelance for a small local newspaper, "The Summerland Review," and a leading sailing publication, "Cruising World Magazine." Kerr has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Wilfred Laurier University.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images