How to Order Gelato In Italy

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Gelato in Florence (by Craig Stanfill)

You might have laughed at the title of this article, thinking “Seriously, how difficult can it be to obtain an ice cream?” If you don’t mind me asking, I will take a few moments to explain why it might be necessary for you to read this before you go into a gelateria. You can get a gelato even if you don’t read this. However, it will make the process go more smoothly. You will spend less time waiting for your gelato.

Do you mind if I take a few moments to chat with you? Excellent.

Ordering Gelato in Italy

I usually expect to eat the item I purchase when I go to a restaurant. Gelato shops in Italy are more like take-out or convenience shops. You pay first and then you get your goodies. Sometimes, the person taking payment in a gelateria isn’t the same person who scoops your gelato. If you hadn’t paid in advance, the people filling your order wouldn’t know. It also keeps the filthy from your delicious, tasty gelato.

There are gelaterias that are small enough and not busy enough to have the same person take your money and scoop your gelato. These instructions are aimed at busy tourist shops where the patience level is not high.

These are the steps for ordering gelato from Italy.

  • You pay for what you want. It means that you need to know what size portion you would like (how many flavors) and what delivery method you prefer (cup or cone). For example, you might say “Una coppa conti gusti, per favore” which means “two flavors in one cup, please.” It doesn’t matter which flavor you like, you only need to know how many you want in one container. You will pay for the order and receive a receipt confirming your purchase. This piece of paper is your ticket to gelato.
  • Look through the flavor options. It’s almost a good idea to wait in line for a while so you can have time to look at all the options. If you aren’t in a rush, you can ask for more time by saying “Un attimo per favore”, which means “just one moment please.” The people behind the counter will serve you as they see fit. Don’t expect a neat queue. Italians don’t form orderly queues. Make eye contact with the server when you are ready and smile or nod to let them know you are ready to make your selections. You can raise your hand if you feel ignored.
  • Choose your flavors. After you have locked eyes with the server, pass your receipt to them at the counter. They will be able to see that you paid and ask you which flavors you would like. You might need to repeat the part if “cup” or “cone” is not indicated on receipts.
  • These two things can be a good match?

    Sometimes I will choose one flavor that I like but cannot decide which one to pair with it. Asking for flavor suggestions is a great way to get ideas if the shop isn’t crowded or the server is friendly. It is said that one flavor “marries well with another,” which I find adorable. For example, you might ask “Cosa si sosa bene con la licorice?” Surprised to hear that lemon with licorice is a popular combination! These often become new favorites. It’s possible to try it yourself.

    Let me just have a bite.

    Victoria posted a comment asking if it was acceptable to ask for a taste before ordering a flavor. This is a great question. Thankfully, the answer to it is yes. If a shop is crowded, it’s unlikely that they will appreciate you asking for a taste. This is especially true if you request multiple samples before making a decision. soh ah

    Learn why “posso”, one of the most important Italian words, is so useful.

    Glossary of Gelato Ordering

    In another article I covered the gelato flavor. What they mean and how to pronounce them in Italian. But here is the vocabulary you will need to get from zero to gelato quickly.

    • noh) – cone (some gelato shops do not have cones); “a cone” is “un cono”
    • coppa (KOHP|pah) – cup; “a cup” is “una coppa”
    • stoh) – flavor; the plural is “gusti”
    • nah) – with whipped cream; you may be asked if you’d like whipped cream atop your gelato
    • zah BEH
    • un attimo (oon AH|tee|moh) – one moment
    • goh) – literally means “you’re welcome,” but is used by servers to indicate they’re ready to take your order
    • mee) – tell me; used by servers to indicate they’re ready to take your order
    • VOH
    • zee
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    5 Responses to “How to Order Gelato In Italy”

  • Victoria says:

    Hello! Hello! I will soon be traveling to Italy for my first time. I love gelato. As someone from Argentina, it is common to request a taste of an unusual flavor of ice cream before making a decision. Is it possible to do that in Rome? If so, how can you request it? Because I already think about Fatamorgana, Il Gelato Di Claudio Torce, and all their weird flavours. I would love to be able see if they taste good before I order!

    Thank you so much for your reply

    • Jess has the following:

      Victoria, that’s an excellent question! Although I will update the article, you can still ask for a sample. It’s not always appreciated to ask for a taste if the place is crowded. But if it’s quiet, you can still ask. You can say either “posso assaggiare” or “posso gustare”.

      • Victoria says:

        Jessica, thank you so much! Amazing site! I am learning so much from it! x

        • Jess has the following:

          I am glad to hear that you are happy! If you haven’t yet seen them, there are two ebooks I have available on Amazon. One is even about gelato. To view them, click on the “STORE” link at the top.

  • Francesco D’Arcangeli:

    You are welcome,

    nice guide indeed. We don’t like waiting in queues. Some gelaterias have number tickets. Large shops might also have fewer staff. I would recommend smaller shops. It is better to hang out with locals as they are more likely to know the best places.

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