Marco Polo is said to have introduced Venice to ice cream after his escapades in Asia, so you could say gelato holds a special place in the hearts of Venetians. They take it seriously here, steering clear of additives, emulsifiers and thickeners we’re used to outside of Italy, and prizing seasonal, fresh and locally-produced ingredients. But with dozens of gelato shops to choose from, where can you find the best scoops? From hole-in-the-wall joints to stately cafes, here are seven of the best gelato shops in Venice.
The Best Ice Cream Shops in Venice
Venchi has been serving up the city’s finest chocolate since the late 19th-century. In 2007 the team broke into the gelato market – and Venice has never been the same since. It’s a paradise for chocoholics with a staggering number of iterations of the classic chocolate ice cream. Think praline, single-origin chocolate from Peru, Ecuador or Guatemala, combinations incorporating fruit, nuts and herbs – the list is endless. Heaven in a scoop.
This unassuming blue-and-white-striped gelateria boasts a beautiful waterside setting on the southern side of the main island. The gelateria is now over 100 years old. A young man called Nico opened the first premisis in Treviso in the 1920s, with a dream to create high-quality, fresh gelato. It was so popular, he moved the premisis to Venice.
Gelato here is best enjoyed in a coppa, or glass cup, filled with fresh fruit and topped with crispy biscuits. Their signature scoop is the classic gianduiotto, a hunk of chocolate and hazelnut gelato topped with heaps of whipped cream. Head here at sundown for a sunset scoop.
Suso Gelatoteca is conveniently located a short stroll between St Mark’s square and Rialto Bridge. You’ll probably see the queue before you see the shop, so be prepared to wait in line. They make no secret about how good the ice cream is here.
They’re big on flavours and scoops at Suso Gelatoteca, with explosive combinations like bitter chocolate with mandarin and salted pistachio with gianduja. There’s an excellent range of vegan and gluten-free options too.
If you’ve had your fill of those soft peaks of whipped gelato, why not swap the cone for a stick? Each gelato is lovingly frozen onto a stick and covered in hot chocolate (or something equally delicious).
They’re serious about gelato here, with ice cream made from local raw milk and cane sugar. You won’t find any nasty emulsifiers, colourings or artificial flavours in the ice cream either. There’s no room for lingering and inside its standing-room-only, but there are benches with pretty views close by.
Perched on the edge of Venice in the Santa Croce district, Gelateria Alaska is a little off-the-beaten-path but it’s worth the extra steps. It’s an unassuming shop, but inside gelato master, Carlo Pistacchi, serves up some of the most inventive scoops in the city. Those with an adventurous palette will love the creative combinations, which include unusual ingredients like rocket, artichoke, green tea and rose. Fear not though, all the classics are here too, including the city’s favourite pistachio ice cream.
Serving up scoops of all-natural, fresh artisanal Italian-style ice cream, La Mela Verde offers up some of the creamiest gelato in Venice. Try their signature flavour (and namesake), the Mela Verde, or green apple. Other crowdpleasers include ricotta with Bronte pistachios but you never quite know what you’re going to get since the menu changes depending on what’s in season. The white peach Panino gelato (ice cream sandwich) is sublime, but don’t expect to find it in October, when peaches are out of season.
This tiny little gelato shop may be lacking in size, but it certainly doesn’t lack in anything else. Run by two young Venetians who keep a tight ship on quality, the gelato here is creamy, rich and freshly made. It’s a little remote, located in Cannaregio, but a great pit-stop if you’re exploring the local sights like the Venetian Ghetto and the Colour Library.
Try the creamy zabione cone and take to the bridge outside for watery vistas. Or, order your gelato served in a Sicilian-style homemade brioche.