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Global cuisine

The scoop on ordering gelato in Italian

Dec 05, 2019 by Laura Barber

Out of the hundreds of reasons to go to Italy, “for the gelato” sits pretty close to the top of the list. It’s tasty, easy to find, and the perfect grab-and-go treat—day or night, summer or winter, for breakfast or dinner. The secret to making it taste even better than it already does? Ordering it in Italian! Not only will you feel accomplished, but you'll impress the locals too.

As far as basic Italian phrases go, the ones you’ll use to order your gelato are easy to learn and to remember. These are the key terms you need to know:

  • Piccolo (PEE-koh-loh) – Small
  • Medio (MEH-dee-oh) – Medium
  • Grande (grahn-day) – Large
  • Cono (KOH-noh) – Cone
  • Coppetta (koh-PET-tah) – Cup

To order your gelato, all you need to do is fill in the blanks!

Buongiorno, vorrei un gelato piccolo in cono, per favore.” In English, that’s “Hello, I would like a small gelato in a cone, please.”

Now comes the best and most important part—picking your flavors (il gusti)! In Italy, this typically happens after you’ve chosen what size you want and the way you want it served (i.e. in a cup or in a cone). Here’s a rundown of some of the most common gelato flavors:

Amarena – Sour cherry

Caffè – Coffee

Cannella – Cinnamon

Cioccolata – Chocolate

Cioccolato fondente – Dark chocolate

Fior di latte – Directly translated, this means “flower of milk.” This flavor is most similar to what we’d call sweet cream.

Fragola – Strawberry

Nocciola – Hazelnut

Pistacchio – Pistachio

Stracciatella – Chocolate chip

What gelato flavor would you order in Italy? Tell us on our Facebook page!

Watch our guide to gelato in Florence

Did you know Florence was the brithplace of modern gelato? Expert tour director, Stefania, talks about the history of Italian gelato, how it's made and the best places to try it on tour in Florence.

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About the author | Laura Barber
It all began on a school trip to London in 7th grade. Since that first jaunt across the pond, Laura has been hooked on all things travel (and British for that matter). When she's not at work using her words to help people find their own adventures, she can be found running 5ks, refining her cribbage game, or rewatching The Office for the 100th time.

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