Gelato Championships Finale: Taste the Winner

Four hundred and fifty-eight years after Bernardo Buontalenti first served gelato in the Court of the Medici, lovers of the creamy treat will flock to Piazzale Michelangelo to sample the best of the best. In its eighth year, the Gelato Festival will be back in Florence from September 14 – 17 for the competition’s finale.

After touring Italy, England, Poland, and Germany, the top two finalists from each city will vie for the top spot, followed by an award ceremony on September 17 at 8 pm. The Festival will be accessible to the public on Friday and Saturday from 2 to 10 pm, on Sunday 12 noon to 8 pm.

One of the 16 contestants will be awarded the technical winner, voted for by a panel of journalists and experts, and one will be awarded the popular winner, voted for by all festival-goers. This year also introduces the junior category, to highlight the achievement of young gelatai and up and coming businesses.

With the purchase of a wristband, gelato lovers will have the opportunity to get in on the sampling and voting process.

The innovative flavors competing this year include Vincenzo Lenci’s spicy-sweet Strawberry and Red Pepper flavor; Lucia Cosentino of Catanzaro’s Nonna Rosa, a flavor containing mascarpone, biscotti, and strawberries; and Londoner Akash Vaghela’s Crème della Baklava, taking inspiration from the Turkish dessert made from phyllo dough, honey, and chopped nuts.

Competing for Florence is Carmelo Pannocchietti with his crema di ricotta Azteca al bergamotto (ricotta cream with bergamot) flavor in the senior category, and Roberta Rabatti’s Ettamo Fragola flavor in the junior category.

Guests will also have the opportunity to participate in activities and demonstrations to learn about the process of making gelato. Wristbands can be purchased prior to attending the event for €13 on the festival’s official website ( or at the festival itself.

Aside from indulging in delicious taste testing, guests will have the opportunity to appreciate the craft and history of gelato in the very city the creamy treat was first created, making for a special chance to revel in this sweet facet of Italian culture. (kathryn schultz)