It’s no secret that they excel at gelato in Italy. Over the past few centuries, the Italians have perfected and developed the art of gelato to create some of the most perfect ice creams in the world. Bologna, the capital of the Emilia Romagna region, is no exception. Take a stroll under the pretty porticos and you’ll find dozens of gelato shops lining the streets – over 100 in fact. Looking for the best scoop? Here are some of the best gelato shops in Bologna.
Where to find the best ice cream in Bologna
1. Galleria 49
Galleria 49 has been churning out some of the best gelato in Bologna since 1998. Best-known for its big flavours and bold scoops, you’ll find all your favourite flavours here, as well as a few surprises – like the ricotta, pear and chocolate. It’s a faff-free and no-frills kind of joint, delighting busy commuters, tourists and passers-by with the specialities, all handmade with the region’s best ingredients.
Stemming from a commitment to living passionately and with pride, the team – Maurizio, Jacopo, Valerio and Fabio – are devoted to artisanal methods of production. They work in plain view in an open kitchen, chatting with customers as the sweet treats are prepared.
It’s not all about the gelato here either. The sorbets are heavenly and made with just three ingredients, fresh fruit, water and cane sugar. The Sicilian granitas are just as good and have a string of awards to prove it. But a personal Big Seven favourite is the Sicilian Brioche, a round sweet brioche stuffed with up to three flavours of ice cream.
Named after the cable car station which was once next to the gelateria’s original location, Cremeria Funivia is actually on the outskirts of Bologna. Despite being located outside of the city walls – a long walk or a substantial bus journey away from the centre – locals will often name Cremeria Funivia as the best gelato shop in Bologna.
The gelato here is created with natural ingredients, so you won’t find any crazy colours, with a pool of chocolate sauce at the bottom of the cone. It may seem a little unorthodox, but it guarantees that every bite is as delicious as the first (is there anything worse than reaching the bottom of the cone, only to get a mouthful of wafer?)
You’ll find all the classics, as well as a menu of ‘specials’ that are a little more inventive. We’re particularly enamoured with the current selection, which includes unorthodox combos like pine nut cream with toasted pine nuts.
Cremeria Santo Stefano is a relatively recent addition to Bologna’s gelato scene, but it’s fast becoming one of the best. Run by a dynamic mother-father-son trio, the gelato here is artisanal, with no nasty additives or surprises. Compared with its reputation, the shop floor is small, with a couple of stalls and enough room for just a couple of people – but it still packs in at least a dozen different flavours.
You’ll find the usual suspects here, with exciting additions such as pistachios imported from Turkey. All flavours change seasonally and depending on product availability. Don’t just take our word for it though, Gambero Rosso rewarded the gelateria with the “Three Cones’ award in 2019.
Bologna’s first gelateria offering gluten and lactose-free, vegan ice cream. We know, it shouldn’t work but we can assure you it does, so well. The gelato here is light and fluffy, low in sugar and made with natural thickeners, instead of industrial ones which are popular across Italy. It’s also free from gluten, hydrogenated fats, palm and coconut oils, emulsifiers and artificial flavours. It’s (almost) completely sin-free.
There’s an excellent range of vegan ice creams, made with rice instead of milk. Chef Stefini decided on rice after extensive experimentation – rice offers the most neutral taste and has a low risk of contamination from GMOs. It also means the team can source the rice from Italy.
Those with a long list of intolerances will appreciate the shortlist of ingredients, all certified organic from a short supply chain. in fact, most of the ingredients are sourced from family-run companies in Emilia Romagna.
Less gelato shop, more a sort of Disney World for gelato enthusiasts, Carpigiani is located on the outskirts of Bologna at Carpigiani HQ. It’s the world’s first gelato museum, offering up the whole history of gelato, from the Arabs to the modern day.
If you’re not familiar with the brand, it’s a world-leading manufacturer of gelato machines. Two brothers, Bruto and Poerio, founded Carpigiani in 1946 and licensed the first-ever prototype of a gelato-making machine, changing gelato history at the same time.
There’s also a ‘University’ onsite, where you can learn the science and art behind gelato, then get hands-on in the gelato lab. You’ll also get to taste gelato made by the experts at the gelato cafe.
Another award-winner, Cremeria Scirocco is located in the northeast of the city. For over 17 years, chef Andrea Bandiera has served up the best scoops in the city. But the gelato here is also a little different to your usual Sicilian fayre. They’re specialists in savoury gelato. Some of the most popular flavours include parmesan and dried figs, and gorgonzola and walnuts. There’s also a flavour that combines pesto, almonds, pistachios, lemon, basil and extra virgin olive oil.
The sweet gelati are equally as inventive. The Sicilian Kiss is one of the most popular flavours. Andrea actually invented the flavour by mistake, by blending two different flavours together. The result? A refined hazelnut, pistachio and chocolate blend. Customers refuse to let Andrea take it off the menu.
The entire line of sorbets is lactose-free, so it’s suitable for vegans too.
A winning location and blockbuster flavours combine to make one of the best gelato shops in Bologna. It’s the perfect place to stop after a summer or spring stroll in the beautiful Giardini Margherita. You’ll find all the classic flavours like chocolate, straciatella and pistachio, as well as special ‘creme’ flavours like Michelangel, which is made with a cream of almond and caramelized almond. The Dolce Emma is another superb special, made with fresh ricotta, eggs and caramelized figs.
If you’re celebrating a birthday – or just a big day out in Bologna, we won’t judge – try the ice cream cakes. They taste as good as they look too.