How to Spot Fake Gelato in Italy

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Buying Gelato in Rome Italy

It’s hot in Rome, and you’re melting in the humid, sticky heat of the city. Suddenly you spot it. Gelato.

Your eyes devour the towering mound of sweet icy goodness and you want it bad. The vivid pinks, neon greens and brilliant yellows behind the glass counter are beckoning, calling ‘eat me, lick me!’

You part with some euros and watch hungrily as they scoop out a portion of gelato into your cup. You raise the plastic spoon to your lips. Finally it’s there, ice cold, the flavor swirling around in your mouth and… it’s just ok. What happened? Unfortunately you’ve discovered one the many places in the city selling fake or artificial gelato made from a powder. A whooping 85% of gelato sold in Rome is fake.

On our recent food tour with Eating Italy Tours, GirlsGetaway found out how to spot the fake stuff. Here’s a couple of tips to help you get the best-tasting artisanal gelato into your hot, sweaty hands.

Artisanal Gelato in Rome Italy

Look at the Colors in Your Gelato

The gelato pictured above may not look as pretty to the eye but it will win the taste test over artificial powdered gelato.

Is the banana gelato a bright yellow? Fake. Pistachio a brilliant green? Fake. The colors in homemade artisanal gelato should be muted (pistachio, raspberry, strawberry), or white (banana, lemon, mint). After all, when you peel a banana what color is the fruit?

Look at the Shape of the Gelato

Are you looking at a towering, piled high mountain of gelato? Fake. Real Gelato is HEAVY. You can’t whip this stuff. Artisanal gelato should lie flat to the container.

To find out more insider tips on all things gelato, Italian food and where to discover awesome food, especially gelato, in Rome, book a tour with Eating Italy. Your mouth and tummy will thank you.

To book contact Eating Italy Tours

(+39 3338479138:

Comment on this story:

What all the girls are saying:

  1. These are some great and unique tips! I know I definitely got the good stuff a few times in Italy, but unfortunately, yeah, I wound up with the fake stuff too. Now I know how to tell the difference!

  2. Mic says:

    I don’t understand. Why is there such a huge amount of the fake versions? Same price?

  3. Sherry says:

    Wow! I didn’t realize there was even one way to spot a fake gelato. I never cared much for gelato, but maybe because I’ve been eating the fakes all along. I’ll be more careful and use your advice the next time.

  4. Frank says:

    Good tips, I would never have known. Nothing worse than being screwed on gelato! 🙂
    Frank (bbqboy)

  5. Mmmmmm! Who doesn’t enjoy gelato?! Thanks for the tips on how to spot the good stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Love this post! I will add it to my blog page on Travel Tips.
    To answer a query from below, the prices are about the same. Prices go up at tourist areas, but in the fringes are fantastic (my little gelateria hasn’t raised prices in years – povero)…

    Another thing I’ve seen, however, while in search for the most glorious gelato in Rome is that yes, many many new gelato places are opening – everywhere. They are amazing. The gelato also tastes creamy, like your best, American, whipped up & fab ice cream. It’s awesome, but not what we wanted.

    Hundreds of other places scream “Gelato Artigianale” – artisan gelato but trucks come every morning to deliver it…So, there’s that. I say, get recs of the top places by bloggers in the know and stick to the classics.
    Although, when it comes to gelato, you’re rarely disappointed even with the electric blue Puffo (Smurf) flavor!

    FMaggi @irreverentitaly
    Burnt by the Tuscan Sun

  7. Jennifer says:

    Good tips! Also, the fruit sorbets will only be flavors of fruits currently in season from a true artisan gelato shop.