This might seem strange, but when I go for my favorite gelato in Florence, the way the colors and textures are layered so beautifully, I find it a perfect metaphor for the City itself.
The striations of gelato flavors mesmerize to the point that I am grateful for the long queue so I can “scoop” it all up with my eyes before I have to make a decision (although my choice is almost always pistachio and chocolate ganache).
Gelato is not the same thing as ice cream. It has a lower percentage of both fat and sugar and because it is churned at such a slow rate, it takes in less air, so it is incredibly dense. The result is intense, natural flavor in a silky, sinful consistency.
This is, once again one of the things you must come to Italy for. Yes, there are commercial gelato brands in our grocery store freezers and some makers who try their hand at it, but those are few and far between.
Like churches, there is a gelateria practically on every block in Italy. Italians consume gelato daily. And so do I when I’m there. And so would you!
Because the gelateria I frequent is on the Arno, I oftentimes walk across the street to the Santa Trinitá bridge to enjoy this treat. I am not alone in doing this and it is a wonderful spot to take in the sweeping views of the City at the same time.
#Gelato is sublime. What a pity it is not illegal. - Voltaire
What do I mean when I say, “Florence between the layers?” Because like many great cities with rich histories, the “must see” places are obvious and because one normally has a limited time to sight see, these take up the itinerary. Rome: The Sistine Chapel, The Colosseum, The Forum. Florence: The David, The Ponte Vecchio, The Uffizi. Paris: The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, The Champs Elysee.
With the doors of travel so open and accessible these days, it is normal to want to see as many places in the world as possible. It is a wonderful time to be alive and to taste different cultures.
I have traveled extensively, but for so many reasons, mostly personal, I return to Italy.
I find the familiarity an alluring reason to return. I enjoy the comfort of people and places I am coming to know quite well. There is a depth to this that is very satisfying.
But I also have to say that each time I return, I discover incredible places that are not on the tourist list of “must sees”. Gardens, libraries, chapels, works of art, vineyards and artisans that are located in the layers of Florence and Tuscany that one has to dip into over time to discover.
Sort of like tasting your way through a scoop of my favorite, pistachio gelato. First, looks are deceiving. It’s not bright green, unlike what we are used to seeing, rather almost grey. You try a taste and it is sweet, yes, but then in awhile you begin to taste the salt, a whole new experience and a bit of a surprise, but quite delicious. Then there is a crunch as a piece of the nut comes through. If you have added a scoop of another flavor, like I do, chocolate ganache, the dark, deep almost bitter taste is a knock out chaser to the pistachio. It’s a journey in a waffle cone!
As I take in the tastes, I look out over the Arno, watching the layers of the sky change, looking at the buildings and neighborhoods along the river I am coming to know intimately.
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