As you know from my previous post, I got a free trip to Zurich for work to give a talk at the Mycorrhizal Symbiosis Symposium. The talk went well and I had fun at the conference, which was awesome scientifically and intellectually, but I found the food in Zurich lacking. I am just not a heavy Germanic food kind of girl. Happily for me, my cousin Aaron and his wife Kate live in Naples, so after the conference I flew to Italy to visit. As you can imagine, I took my eating very seriously on this trip, especially when it came to gelato! I knew you all would be interested in the gelato I ate in Italy so I kept a list of flavors I tried. So here it is!! Another day another gelato..
gelato #1: nocciolata and stracciatella – chocolate hazelnut goodness and creamy milk based gelato with chocolate strands thrown in – analogous to chocolate chip ice cream but so much better because the chocolate is melded throughout rather in discrete chips. Here I am enjoying a gelato in a gelateria in my cousin’s building before I even go upstairs to put down my luggage:
Enjoying Nocciolata and Stracciatella gelato before I even put down my luggage
gelato #2: pan di stelle – After a disappointing Nutella festival with no nutella (What!?!?) and then walking a mile to the world famous pizzeria da michele, where allegedly pizza was born, only to find it closed, I definitely needed gelato! I tried a mysterious flavor called pan di stelle, which I believe is an Italian chocolately star cookie. It was ok but not my favorite.
gelato #3: pistachio, baccio, straciatella – After a day of trekking around Herculaneum in the rain, which was a wonderful rainy day activity in fact and I highly recommend a visit, I decided I needed to go for a three-fer gelato this time. I tried pistachio, baccio, and returned to the delicious straciatella to make sure I had at least one familiar favorite. Baccio is chocolate hazelnut, and is delicious, although I recommend nocciolata over baccio for you nutella lovers.
gelato #4: ambroggio e fragola – Kate and I took a lovely day trip to Capri, which is a gorgeous resort island an hour ferry ride from Napoli. It is soo soo pretty and luxurious, but be prepared to watch the dollars drain out of your pockets. We spent nearly 40 euros to get 5 minutes in a cave called the Blue Grotto, which admittedly, was pretty cool:
Blue grotto cave in Capri
But the real highlight of Capri as far as I’m concerned was the galeto. Hands down some of the best gelato I’ve ever tried..ever! It was sooo good!!! I tried a flavor called ambroggio, which as far as I can tell was ferrero rocher flavored gelato, and was to-die-for. I paired it with fragola, which is strawberry. Here I am living the life of luxury and enjoying gelati in Capri:
Ecstatic after discovering the most amazing gelato flavor ambroggio in Capri
Kate also got the delightful ambroggio, but she paired it with after eight (mint chocolate candy for those of you who don’t know what this epic candy is):
Kate enjoying gelato in Capri
gelato #5: torta caprese e melone- Kate and I decided that the gelato in Capri was so good, that after taking this seriously scary chairlift ride to the top of a mountain, we deserved to treat ourselves to gelato again. While scary (Aaron thought I was totally lame for thinking this was scary, but I’m afraid of heights, so it was scary for me!), the view was pretty epic:
Chairlift ride up the mountain in Capri
The view from the top was just incredible:
View from top of mountain in Capri
While the view was gorgeous, I was still a little rattled from the chairlift ride up and was seriously dreading the ride down, which looked scarier. I decided I needed a little prosecco to calm my nerves before taking the scary ride back down the mountain:
Enjoying la dolce vita in Capri
And finally, back to the gelato! After surviving the ride back down the mountain, Kate and I enjoyed another gelato. I tried something called torta caprese, which really I’m not sure what it is, but it was the best gelato OF MY LIFE. Seriously, it was so good. If you go to Italy, go to Capri just for the torta caprese and ambroggio gelato. DO IT.
gelato #6: nocciolata e mandarlo- After several days of hanging out in Naples and enjoying day trips to Positano and Sorrento in the amalfi coast, Herculaneum, and Capri, Aaron, Kate, and I took a road trip up north to experience the Cinque terre. Cinque terre is five towns located about a 6 hour drive north of Naples on the coast. They are gorgeous picturesque villages with cute painted houses etched into the rocky coast. We stayed in the largest and northern most village, Monterosso. Our first full day in Cinque terre we took the train to the southern most village, Riomaggiare, and enjoyed a gelato. I returned to an old fave, nocciolata, and paired it with a new flavor for me, mandarlo, which is almond. Mandarlo was delicious! Another flavor that I highly recommend! Here I am enjoying nocciolata and mandarlo in Riomaggiare:
Nocciolata and mandarlo gelato in Riomaggiare
Here are Kate and Aaron enjoying their gelati:
Kate and Aaron enjoying gelato in Riomaggiare
gelato #7: stracciatella e cioccolotto – After relaxing in Riomaggiare, we took the train to Manarola and enjoyed an epic swimming hole. Manarola was totally one of my favorite towns. Check out how cute it is:
The town of Manarola in Cinque terre
After the relaxing day we were ready to check out the nightlife in Monterosso, which Rick Steves claims is the nightlife hub of the Cinque terre. Let me tell you, it was dead! We were walking around at midnight on a Friday night, and everything was closed! A middle aged couple saw us walking around and asked us where the nightlife was, and we had to let them down that we couldn’t find any. Luckily, one gelateria was still open and we got the last gelato of the day before they closed their doors. Since I wasn’t super inspired by the late night flavor options, I returned to my old fave stracciatella and paired it with cioccolotto, or milk chocolate.
gelato #8: mandarino e tiramisu – For our second day in Cinque terre, we decided to hike from Monterosso to Vernazza, the next town over. The hike took nearly 2 hours and was pretty hilly, but it provided us with gorgeous views of the Cinque terre:
View on the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza in Cinque terre
View of Vernazza from the trail
After enjoying Vernazza, which was another fabulous town, we decided to take the train to Corniglia. We should have read Rick Steves’ account of Corniglia being for the “hermits, anarchists, and mountain goats” more carefully before we attempted to visit. You have to walk up a stair case of 365 stairs before even being able to enter the village! It was torture! Needless to say, Corniglia was NOT our favorite town. We were there for barely 45 minutes total but we did manage to squeeze in a gelato before we left. At least the gelato was delicious. I tried mandarino and tiramisu, which was delightful:
Tiramisu and mandarino gelato in Corniglia
Kate enjoying dark chocolate and coconut gelato in Corniglia
gelato – the only part of Corniglia we enjoyed!
gelato #9: Fichi e caramelli e ciocco crok – After a heavenly 2 days in Cinque terre, we took a four hour road trip to Lake Como. What can I say about Lake Como other than I desperately want to go back? We were only there for half a day but I could easily imagine spending several days there. It was BEAUTIFUL. Warm weather, alpine lakes, and the Alps in the background. It was gorgeous:
While we were only there for half a day, we did manage to squeeze in a gelato. I had “Ciocco crok” which was chocolate with hazelnuts and almonds mixed in, and fichi e caramelli, or caramelized figs, gelato. Fichi e caramelli was really realy good!
Fichi e caramelli e ciocco crok gelato in Lake Como
gelato #10: Swiss chocolate and passionfruit mango – Kate was disappointed that I did not make it to number 10 while in Italy, but luckily for me, Switzerland also has good gelato :) I took the train from Milan to Zurich across the alps, and when I landed in Zurich I was ready to search for gelato number 10. Unfortunately, Zurich is a zillion times more expensive than Italy, and I had to shell out 7.90 francs for gelato in Zurich compared to 2 euros for gelato in Italy. Of course, francs and euros are both worth more than US dollars, so it was a freaking expensive gelato! Luckily I didn’t know the price before I already had the gelato in hand, because I might have backed out if I had known in advance it was nearly $9 for a cone. Then I would not have gotten to experience the joy of swiss chocolate gelato! You pay dearly for it, but man is it delicious. I paired it with passionfruit mango, which my sister Leslie claims is a weird combination, but I thought was great:
Swiss chocolate and passionfruit mango gelato in Zurich that I paid nearly $9 for!
So there you go, gelato eating endeavor. Over the course of 1.5 weeks in Italy I ate gelato 9 times, with my 10th in Zurich, and then an 11th on the plane because Swiss Air served swiss chocolate gelato on the plane. So what do you think, did I get my gelato’s worth out of Italy? Could you have eaten more?