Ice cream…in Italy!

Two years ago, we took a big family trip to Tuscany, a beautiful part of Italy with lots of villages on top of hills.  Long ago, during the medieval era, people lived on hilltops to be safe. The higher up you are, the harder you are to attack and the harder it is to steal your stuff.  Get it??

Now I’ve been to Italy about a dozen times (yes, I’m a little obsessed with the place), but it was my first time there with our niece and nephew.  And since they’re eleven-year-old twins, we made a really fun pact: to eat ice cream each day for the entire week we were there.

(Gelato in Assisi)

You see, Italy is very famous for its ice cream.  Ice cream is called “gelato” over there, and it’s a little different from the ice cream we eat in the U.S.  Gelato contains less air because it’s churned slowly for a longer time than ice cream.  So gelato is thick, dense and creamy.  You might even say it’s silky smooth.  And it’s a tradition to have gelato after dinner, while you’re doing your passeggiata (that means taking a stroll in the evening).  I love passeggiata because the entire neighborhood is out enjoying gelato and chatting and laughing– kids, parents, grandparents, dogs, cats, everyone!

So each day, we stopped by a gelateria (ice cream shop) to have a cup or cone of the good stuff.  My favorite flavor is stracciatella — vanilla with thin strips of chocolate.  The Geno loves gianduja — chocolate with hazelnut.  And our niece and nephew love anything with bright, zany colors.  Those kids!!  I can’t even remember all the kooky flavors they liked.  Probably something involving bubblegum balls and gummy worms and sweet and sour boogers.  But they did also love fragola, which is strawberry, and colorful sorbets like melon and peach and blueberry.

And we did it!  Seven spectacular days of gelato and passeggiata.  I can’t wait to go back!  I think the next time we go to Italy, we’ll check out Sicily…known for granita (Italian ice) and the mafia…

(Celebrating in Montepulciano)

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?