If you have ever listened to this podcast in the past then you are very aware of our love for Ice Cream/Gelato. Since it is summertime we thought this is the perfect time to dive into our favorite places around the world for this delicious dessert (& it should be eaten at all times during the day). Here are a few of the things that we looked for when judging/ranking these:
Quality of ice cream – taste & consistency
Variety of flavors
Do they let you taste prior to selection
How nice was the staff
Get a pen and paper ready (or just scroll down) to jot down all 12 of our best ice cream experiences from our travels and create your own ice cream itinerary for your next adventure. Today’s episode has been sponsored by our friends at Tortuga Backpacks & Sauv’s!
All’Antico Vinao – Quite simply the best sandwiches, and possibly the best food, in the entire world. Couple that with a 2€ self serve wine bar and there’s not much reason to go anywhere else…ever.
Trattoria Mario – An old school trattoria that’s a local fave (and now a tourist one too). But don’t worry, you still get the authentic feel and some of the best ribollita you’ll ever taste.
Finisterre – Right on Santa Croce plaza, this place is open late and has great pizzas for only 6-10€. You can’t go wrong with anything, but their calabra (white pizza with peppers and sausage) is insanely good.
La Maremma – Another joint right on Santa Croce plaza – and few steps up from Finisterre – this place has 8€ pasta and 3€ wines. Heather was a fan of the eggplant parm.
Vini e Vecchi Sapori – An bit more upscale and hard to get a reservation, this restaurant is many people’s favorite in Florence. For us, it was just decent, but it’s great for a date night…and maybe we just had an off night?
Trattoria La Torre (Siena) – Located in a tower, this is a great place to go for groups. Above-average food, cool architecture, and a good vibe.
Il Merendero (Lucca) – No, it’s certainly not as good as All’Antico Vinao (nothing is) but if you’re in Lucca and craving a sandwich, head here for friendly owners and huge sandwiches for only 5€.
De Cervesia (Lucca) – Looking for craft beer in Lucca? This is the place to go. Great selection, great vibe, great people.
(ranked in order of best to not as best…because gelato can never be considered bad!)
Gelateria de Neri – If you can only have one gelato experience in Florence (the horrors!), this is the place to go. It’s been called by some experts (me) as the best gelato in the world. Plus, it’s right by All’Antico, which makes it the perfect sandwich-gelato bang bang.
La Carraia – If Gelateria de Neri is #1, this place is 1B. It’s incredible. And with two outposts (one on each side of the bridge), you’ll never be that far away!
Gelateria Santa Trinita – A small step down from Neri and La Carraia, in any other city this place would reign supreme. It’s well worth going and trying for yourself, especially because it’s right near Ponte Vecchio.
Il Procopia – The last of the “must go” gelato places in Florence, this local favorite is worth the trip for the pistachio alone!
Vivoli – It gets a lot of publicity, but for me, it was just ok. If you want to try all the places for yourself (and why wouldn’t you) then head here. But not at the expense of anywhere above.
Perche No – They’ve got inventive flavors, good marketing, and lots of name recognition. The gelato itself is decent. But in this town, decent doesn’t cut it.
Gelateria Carabe – Supposedly “Sicilian” style gelato, this place was overpriced, unfriendly, and probably our least favorite in terms of taste. Worth a trip? Sure, if you’re at the Accademia. But I wouldn’t go out of your way.
Carlota’s Apartment – A great experience, this cozy 1 bedroom is impeccably decorated and smack dab in the center of Florence. Plus, you won’t find a nicer hostess. Highly, highly recommend (here’s our full review).
Marvel at the Accademia – It’s fairly small, hard to find, a little off the beaten path and the best thing you can do Florence. The statue of David is one of the most impressive things…in the world. An absolute must.
Climb the Duomo…and then climb the Bell Tower – Two of the most beautiful buildings in Florence (and maybe the world), the view from the top is even better. Yes, it’s even worth the 463 stairs (Duomo) and the 414 stairs (Bell Tower)!
Stroll through the Uffizi – One of Europe’s most visited museums for a reason, the Uffizi is a place you can stroll through quickly or spend a whole day in.
Take a food walking tour – Yes, it’s fun to find places on your own, but with so many incredible places to eat, it’s that much more fun with a local guide. Plus, who else is going to take you to an enoteca to drink wine at 9 am? We recommend either Walks of Italy or Eating Italy.
Walk over the Ponte Vecchio – It’s mostly jewelry stores that line this famous bridge, so unless you’re trying to drop thousands of dollars, it’s most likely not worth buying anything. But it is worth strolling across and then getting some iconic shots of the bridge during sunset.
Take the 1:30 hour trip to Lucca or Siena – Both quintessential Tuscan towns with gorgeous architecture and great food. Each is possible in a day trip, but if they’re running the Palio de Siena (horse race) while you’re there, head to Siena for an incredible spectacle.
Travel writing. Sponsored trips to exotic destinations, a paycheck to see beautiful places and write about them… For many people, it’s the dream lifestyle!
In today’s episode, Gabi Logan joins us to talk about the realities of the travel writing lifestyle, as well as the practicalities of how to do it successfully.
Learn what it’s really like to be a travel writer; where, how, and how often to pitch your work as a travel writer; the real truth about sponsored trips…and enjoy plenty of travel stories and tips along the way!
Tuscany is a vast area in central Italy where gorgeous landscapes of olive groves and vineyards are abundant. There are many cities to explore and countryside villas to stay at.
Here are the top 10 things to do in Tuscany, in under two minutes.
Want more details, including the best sandwich in the world and Trav’s pick for the best gelato?
Below are the Top 10 Things to do in Tuscany.
1. Stay in a Farmhouse
Tuscany has its fair share of beautiful villas to rent. We had the most unbelievable experience renting this farmhouse, which was a short 45-minute train ride to Florence.
If you would like to read the full review of our stay in Tuscany, click here.
The whole area of Tuscany effuses relaxation and a slower pace of life. It is almost impossible to feel stressed out in this region.
The people are friendly, the food is meant to be enjoyed and the wine flows freely. Make sure you take time to truly take in the atmosphere of this region.
3. Learn How to Make Italian Pizza
What better way to relax than to enjoy the simple process of pizza making. Fortunately, our farmhouse came equipped with our very own outdoor brick oven. (Read about our experience here.)
Nothing tastes as good as fresh pizza from a brick oven, and even better when made outside enjoying the countryside.
4. Wine Tasting
There are wineries spread throughout Tuscany. Make sure to do some research and visit ones that are locally operated and organic. (Sulfate-free means fewer headaches the next day).
The winery featured in this video is Fattoria Castellina – their Daino Bianco wine has a history that is very interesting to learn during the tasting.
If you stay at a local villa or farmhouse, your hosts should be able to tell you the best ones in the area.
5. Rent a Car
The best way to see Tuscany is by car. There are so many small villages to explore and the only way to get there is by car.
Make sure you have a GPS or some maps and hit the road. Some of our favorite small towns include Vinci (home to Leonardo De Vinci), Carmignano and all of the small towns in between. You might get lost, we certainly did, but it is all part of the adventure.
6. Eat, Eat, and Eat Some More
It is Italy, after all.
There are so many delicious places to eat in Tuscany including some of the best gelato and the most incredible sandwich you will ever eat at All’ Antico Vinaio.
Some of the quintessential Tuscan dishes include ribollita, porterhouse steak, wild boar and pecorino cheese.
One of the best restaurants to experience a classic Tuscan meal is at Trattoria Mario, where you can sample a traditional steak and don’t forget to order the ribollita (a delicious soup-like dish consisting of bread and vegetables simmered overnight and dosed in olive oil).
If you don’t feel like venturing out, you can find some of the most delicious meats and cheeses at any local grocery store. Just make sure you are brave enough to order at the butcher’s counter – it is worth it!
7. Spend the Day in Florence
With all of the eating in Florence (refer to #6), you would be crazy not to spend some time here. But food is only one of the reasons to explore this gorgeous city.
The Duomo is one of the most magnificent cathedrals ever built – and climbing to the top of it is worth the view.
There are also numerous museums and squares throughout the city. It is where many of the Renaissance artists resided and seeing Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia is an unforgettable experience.
8. All’ Antico Vinaio
Trust us, this sandwich is so good it deserves it’s own number.
There are so many great variations it can be overwhelming deciding exactly what to order. We recommend asking for their favorites or you can try one of ours:
Pecorino cheese spread with fennel salami, shaved zucchini, and eggplant
Prosciutto with mozzarella, tomato, arugula, and olive oil
9. Indulge in Gelato
Trav’s pick for the best gelato is Gelateria dei Neri in Florence. However, most gelato shops in Italy are legitimately delicious, just make sure to follow the gelato pro tip! We are also fond of La Carraia – with multiple locations around Florence, and Le Bonta in Lucca.
10. Visit Lucca
This charming medieval town in northwest Tuscany is the perfect day trip. You can walk around the city walls and wander through the various alleys and streets throughout the city.
The Piazza San Michelle and the Lucca Cathedral (Duomo di San Martino) present the perfect picture-taking opportunity. Lucca is just the right size to wander around for a day and feel like you have seen almost everything.
If you are planning a trip to Europe, then Tuscany is the best place for a rejuvenating yet adventurous vacation. It is one of my favorite places in the world and is perfect for a summer or autumn trip.
The best part of our time in Tuscany was acclimating to the local culture. We stayed for two weeks and by the end of our time the women behind the deli counter recognized us and we had no problem ordering and then picking up that 4Euro bottle of red to go with it all.
If you book the same apartment we did, we can guarantee you will have an excellent experience as our hosts were some of the best people we have met.
Have you ever been to Tuscany? If so, what are your top 10 things to do there?
Further Reading (Posts handpicked for you, by us!)
None of that automatic “read more” stuff you’ll see everywhere else on the internet!