Gelato Day will be celebrated on 24 March: Italy always in the spotlight for the election of the flavour of the year.

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Simple gourmets or authentic gelato masters, for over ten years now all lovers of artisan gelato, a delicious, complete and healthy food, have a day entirely dedicated to their sweet passion.

The European Artisanal Gelato Day also called Gelato Day is a feast for the palate but not only that, in Italy it is something more, it is an opportunity to highlight the talent of the gelato masters who every day give life to one of the most loved desserts of the Italian culinary tradition all over the world.

Between classic or incredibly imaginative flavours, between traditional recipes or created ad hoc for the occasion, in Italy all fans have many excellent reasons to celebrate.

Why Gelato day?

Gelato Day, Italy

Ice cream, although in a very different form from how we know it today, has a history stretching back thousands of years, but tradition has it that its modern version was invented by the Italian Bernardo Buontalenti to please Caterina de' Medici. The fresh and delicious 'discovery' enchanted Renaissance Florence, but it was only later that ice cream became famous, thanks to the Sicilian Francesco Procopio Cutò or dei Coltelli, who exported it to France at the end of the 17th century. Procopio founded the oldest café in Paris, called Le Procope in 1686, becoming a true institution and a landmark in the French capital where one could eat real Italian ice cream.

From then on, the popularity of ice cream only grew, until, in 2009, it also attracted the attention of the highest institutions. In fact, the European Parliament established Gelato Day because, as the official motivation states: 'among fresh dairy products, artisanal gelato represents excellence in terms of quality and food safety'.

European Artisanal Gelato Day is the only day that the European Parliament has so far dedicated to a foodstuff. Celebrated on 24 March each year in all European countries, with events, meetings and initiatives aimed at spreading the culture of artisanal gelato, "Gelato Day" is a unique opportunity to contribute to the enhancement of this product, the promotion of artisanal knowledge and the development of the sector's gastronomic tradition.

The real Italian gelato: craftsmanship and high quality

Gelato Day: Italian artisan ice cream

European Artisanal Gelato Day, as the name itself suggests, celebrates artisanal gelato. Italy is particularly fond of its own, different from the packaged ice-cream in terms of the ingredients used and, of course, the manufacturing process.

There are almost 40,000 artisan ice-cream parlours throughout Italy and the sector is never in crisis. Thanks to the mild climate, in several regions of Italy, particularly in the south, the ice cream season lasts practically 12 months of the year, which is why Gelato Day is a very special day for the beautiful country.

There are some very specific characteristics that distinguish an authentic Italian artisan gelato from the industrial version: the lower amount of fat, the lower amount of air incorporated during processing. Milk and cream are obviously the absolute protagonists of the basic preparation, they must be extremely fresh and the additional ingredients, from which the various flavours are created, of the highest quality, to guarantee an unparalleled flavour and aroma. These are the indispensable characteristics that make artisanal ice cream cream cream cream more creamy, tasty and healthy, a fresh and sweet velvety treat.

Discover with us the tried and tested recipe for homemade ice cream.

A homemade ice cream also stands out because it tends to melt more quickly because it does not crystallise but always remains very creamy and soft as a cloud, and it has a lacklustre colour, unlike industrial products where colouring agents often abound to make the ice cream more appealing to the eye.

Generally, artisan ice cream is produced by the retailer itself, to shorten the supply chain and ensure that the ice cream is always stored at the optimum temperature. Many artisanal ice cream parlours such as Gelateria Mennella in Torre del Greco and all locations in Naples, for example, process the ice cream directly in front of the customer, so that the consumer can witness its creation process, guaranteeing a fresh, quality product.

In order to emphasise the great importance of the tradition of Italian master gelato makers, the idea of obtaining recognition from UNESCO for 'The Art of the Italian Gelato Maker' is increasingly gaining ground, a little like it has already happened for the art of Neapolitan pizza makers.

I doubt there’s a more shocking surprise in the world than the first time you taste some gelato

Heywood Campbell Broun

Fantastic flavours and where to find them

Italian cuisine is passion, tradition, but also imagination and a pinch of audacity. This also applies to ice cream, which can be found in such a variety of flavours that it would be impossible to count them all. Among the most popular flavours among Italians are cream, pistachio, hazelnut, Nutella and, of course, whipped cream. The 10 most delicious cities? Rome, Milan, Turin, Palermo, Naples, Florence, Catania, Bologna, Bari and Verona. With the passage of time and the advancement of technology, ice cream artisans have managed to experiment with a modern, new cuisine that uses any ingredient to transform it into something unique.

Then there are the flavours derived from traditional Italian cakes or desserts, such as the Sicilian cassata, the Sicilian cannolo or the Neapolitan baba, and of course there is tiramisu, which was chosen as flavour of the year on Gelato Day 2019. Every gelato maker has its own secret, an idea, an intuition, a fusion of ingredients to create the perfect mix, as the gelato makers of Gelatosità, a well-known gelato parlour in the Vomero district of Naples, have done with the Regno delle Due Sicilie (Kingdom of the Two Sicilies) gelato flavour, made with Bronte Pistachio, Modica Chocolate, Giffoni Round Hazelnut and Sorrento Blonde Orange.

The curious and daredevils can celebrate Gelato Day by sampling some truly unusual flavours. The pizza-flavoured one, for example, could only have originated in Naples. Here is where a recipe was invented with tomato, oregano, garlic and fior di latte, complete with pizza crumbs and San Marzano tomato jam to top it off. In Milan, on the other hand, wine ice cream was invented, both white and red, made from the best wines of the region, including, for example, Franciacorta or Moscato.

In Piazza Duomo, in the Tuscan town of San Gimignano, there is the Dondoli ice-cream parlour, one of the best in the world. Dondoli in 2006/2007 and 2008/2009 won the award for the best ice cream in the world. Ice cream that also makes use of local ingredients, as there are flavours that are designed to be unique such as Crema di Santa Fina (saffron and pine nut cream), Champelmo (pink grapefruit and sparkling wine), Dolceamaro® (herb cream) and Sorbetto di Vernaccia.

Parmigiano Reggiano, another excellence of Italian cuisine, has also been transformed into ice cream. It is a true taste experience, not salty but definitely not sweet, with a strong flavour, often served with bread croutons instead of the classic cone, for a more suitable and tasty combination. It is widespread in the same production areas as the cheese from which it derives, Emilia Romagna.

Particularly tasty but not very sweet is rosemary ice cream, often combined with meat dishes. It is an eccentric dessert and can be found in well-stocked ice-cream parlours or in restaurants of a certain level at more chic lunches.

In Rome you can also find salmon ice cream, or strawberry and pepper ice cream. In fact, when it comes to the creativity of Italian gelato masters, there really is no limit. All over Italy, with a bit of luck, you can come across ice-cream parlours serving the most eccentric flavours, including imported ones, such as wasabi, created in a New York City ice-cream parlour, Sundaes and Cones or beer-flavoured ice-cream, invented in Germany, in Munich at the Sarcletti ice-cream parlour. The taste changes depending on the type of beer, but it seems that the favourite is Guinness, which goes well with chocolate.

You can also find one of the best ice-cream parlours in Campania, winner of the Gambero Rosso's Three Cones for the year 2024: Cremeria Gabriele, mother of one of the best lemon delights in Campania.

Of course, there are also many variations to meet the needs of those with food intolerances because good food is everyone's heritage and has always been an occasion for joy and sharing.

Italy protagonist of Gelato Day 2024

Every year, to celebrate Gelato Day, many events and initiatives are organised with the aim of enhancing and promoting an Italian and other heritage: ice cream. Traditions and family recipes that still live on in Italian ice cream parlours must be handed down, but above all they must innovate, discover and bring to the attention of customers more and more attractive and special flavours aimed at satisfying even the most curious palates.

Each of the countries of the European Union, in turn, is also entrusted with the task of choosing a particular flavour, which will be the annual symbol of the event, available in all participating ice-cream parlours. 2024 elected the flavour of the year: Gaufre de Liège, making Belgium the protagonist of this day dedicated to ice cream.

Now it is the turn of Europe's best artisan ice-cream makers to get to work making their own version of the Gaufre de Liège, the new flavour of the year that can be enjoyed all over Europe. Gaufres are a type of waffle, and it is from waffles that the idea for this new flavour was born, a neutral-based ice cream flavoured with vanilla and cinnamon, variegated with salted butter and accompanied by a waffle wafer.

Gelato World Cup: Italy is world champion

Every year SIGEP - the International Exhibition of Gelato, Pastry, Artisan Bakery and Coffee - is held in Italy, an event that sees the participation of more than 160 different countries, 1,200 exhibiting brands and, of course, the Gelato World Cup: a renewed format, with teams from all over the world competing for the title of Gelato World Champion, a competition held every two years, now in its tenth year.

For 2024, Italy has been proclaimed world champion of gelato, qualifying first in the world ahead of South Korea and Hungary. The home of the world's best-loved dessert is confirmed as the best creator of ice cream on the planet - a very tasty prize!

The tricolour team consists of: Davide Malizia, Team Manager; Rosario Nicodemo, Ice Cream Maker; Vincenzo Donnarumma, Pastry Chef; Filippo Valsecchi, Chef; Domenico di Clemente, for Ice Sculpture. This is the world champion Italian team!

Italy is certainly not new to this type of competition, in fact it is not the first time it has won first place in the Gelato World Cup but rather the sixth time! The tricolour has been raised to the sky decreeing Italy world champion of gelato for no less than 6 out of the 10 editions of the competition, in 2006, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020, absolute master.

The next appointment with the Gelato World Cup is scheduled for 2026, an event for gourmets not to be missed for any reason in the world.

Happy Gelato Day!

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