Experimenting with professions: how I unveiled all the secrets of Italian gelato

Once upon a time in my life I’ve tried the shoes of gelataia. That was a very short, but, I should say, really interesting experience of seeing, how all is functioning in the absolutely different field, than I am standing in. Yes, first of all, trying to sell ice-cream, the iconic sweet treasure in Italy, granted a chance to see the inner world of long lasting tradition of gelato! Because, everybody is crazy about this milky ice: Italian streets are full both of locals and foreigners, pleasuring their palates with various sweet flavors. Then secondly, that gave a possibility to have a direct communication with people and even measure the cultural differences between visitors from different countries.

I’ve chosen to tell this story by asking my questions, which I had about gelato before trying out this occupation, and answering them by myself – after. So, let’s check out this conversation!

How do they put gelato on the waffle cone that it doesn’t fall down?

Of course, all needs practice, but actually to put the huge amount of ice-cream on the cone is really quite easy. That is hard to explain in words, but once you try it – you immediately understand how it works.

However, frankly speaking, sometimes it happens too that all the beautiful combination of tree scoops of ice-cream really falls down…

How they put the right amount of ice-cream?

Want the truth? Actually, only the professional gelataio is really able to put the right amount. It takes time to start feeling, how much to take on the pallet. So, for the first timers always the small size becomes medium, and medium – extra large. By the way, if speaking about really very large portions, always order not the biggest possible! Because the previous one on the list is cheaper and usually have the same amount of ice-cream as the biggest one!

Are there any specific rules how to put the ice-cream?

Yes! It’s not an absolute rule, but really better to follow it: firstly goes bright colours and only after – the dark ones. Pay attention, when next time you’ll order your ice-cream: the vendor at the beginning will put the yoghurt and continue with chocolate gelato.

What invisible discomforts ice-cream sellers may face?

The incredible wrist pain!! Yes, because it is totally not a monkey business continuously taking out the frozen gelato… And, the worst part is that you can’t switch your hand: it’s the same as with writing, when one works perfectly, and another – doesn’t listen to you at all…

How to understand, which ice-cream in Italy is really good?

Ok, this is the question, which I don’t remember asking myself, ‘cause since I have no idea when I know how all that works. Never, like never, buy unnaturally colourful gelato from the main streets, unless you have very good recommendations and 100% know about their good quality! Because usually these vendors are always buying commercial ice-cream instead of making them by themselves. They know that the only buyers there will be one-off tourists, who will never come back there again, because Italians and foreigners, living in Italy, never go to such places. Money is made, what to need more? So, exactly these vendors are selling pistachio ice-cream in the colour of green grass… Then may I ask you a question: what is the colour of natural pistachio? That is beige mixed up with a greenish accent. So, from where comes that intensive green? My only advice is to buy gelato, where the lemon one is white, pistachio – very very light khaki, and banana – lightly dirty yellowish. ‘Cause these are the signs of quality!

This small experience as gelataia I had in a very good Florentine gelateria, where every day they make ice-cream in their own laboratory: morning starts with cutting fresh fruits, mixing the right ingredients in right proportions, freezing the substances, decorating them and bringing to the sweet tooth clients. After seeing this pure quality from a beginning to an end, I became even more sensitive to the artificially coloured frozen heaps in the main streets and squares…


My experience about gelato I would like to finish with a borrowed story. A story of one lovely American couple, with who we had a chat while they were eating their gelato. “For fifteen years we were living in Paris, but one day we decided to move to Florence. Something started to be missing, and we decided to make this change. Why Florence? Because we were having there our holidays quite often, and always felt the crazy chemistry with this city. So, that was not a question, what may be the next step after Paris”, explained to me the happy woman in her late seventies. It was a perfect example from the real life that there is no wrong time or age for making big changes. All depends on how much you want something. And, if you need it like crazy, just go for it without listening the canary, in her golden cage singing the restraining songs about the society’s norms!

by Gintarė Adamonytė


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