When I traveled to Cinque Terre, Italy’s famous colorful 5 towns in Liguria province, I didn’t have many plans. My boyfriend and I just had one simple plan: relax and have fun (maybe those are two plans) and eat as much ice cream as we could. (Because that is fun). During our 5 days in Cinque Terre, we set out to eat as much gelato as possible and find the best ice cream in Cinque Terre. And we did! It was a hard task, but for the sake of this blog, we did it. As it was impossible to declare only 1 winner, I give you my top 5 with the tastiest ice cream in Cinque Terre!
Ice cream or Gelato
Technically, we didn’t have any ice cream in Italy. We only had artisan gelato from local gelato shops in Cinque Terre, but for the sake of understanding (and SEO purposes, duh!) I call the frozen stuff we had ice cream.
As I like to be a little bit nerdy, I give you a short swift break down on the actual differences between ice cream and gelato.
Why is Gelato different?
Gelato is actually the Italian translation of ice cream, so it is not 100% wrong to use the word “gelato” if you refer to ice cream. Especially not when you want to sound all Italian sophisticated. But there is a difference:
Gelato is made with milk, instead of cream, resulting in lesser fat and calories. Because the gelato is churned at a lower speed, it contains less air but more dense ice cream. Gelato is best enjoyed at warmer temperatures than ice cream. Because of this, gelato has more flavor to it. You taste less fat, less air and because of the temperature, your tongue doesn’t get frostbite and your taste buds can actually taste the flavor of the gelato.
What I like about Italian Gelato
What I like most about Italian gelato is the fact it is warmer and softer (bye bye brain freeze) and has a more silky texture. Another added advantage is the limited choice you get at an artisan gelato parlor. When did limited options become a blessing? Well, when it is time to choose which ice cream flavor you want, less is more! Owh and did I mention fewer calories from fat? Yippie! Bring on the best gelato of Cinque Terre!
But which was the tastiest ice cream in Cinque Terre?
Let me break it down to you:
#5. Gelateria Riomaggiore
This gelato shop was located right across our apartment in Riomaggiore but we went here only once. They also sell delicious smelling crêpes which I’d have loved to try out too. If only I had 5 stomachs! I had some delicious stracciatella with menthe ice cream. My boyfriend had chocolate and hazelnuts.
The ice cream was tasty, just what you expect from artisan gelato in Italy. It just didn’t blow us away as all the other flavors we tasted, that’s why it comes in at #5.
Costs: 2 scoops in a cup: €1,50
Because we had a hard time deciding on the #5, we have a shared contester.
Slurp! in Monterosso is also #5
We opted for a very fancy cone which was quite delicious (at the top). Our flavors were mango with tiramisu and crema di limone and cremino (which tasted like Nutella). I didn’t really like my flavors but the cone was nice. My boyfriend says the mango was deliciously fruity and he wanted it to be in the top 5. So there it is: Gelateria Slurp! in Monterosso.
Costs: 2 scoops on a fancy cone: €3,00
#4. Un Mare di Yogurt in Corniglia
Located next door to Alberto gelateria, it has 2 parlors right across from each other. I’m still not sure if they don’t all belong to the same gelateria. But, this one is ranked #4. My boyfriend had a large lemon slush which is a real thirst quencher! Caution: may cause serious brain freeze.
I choose gelato, mango and coffee flavored. Although the mango was really good, the coffee lacked some serious flavor. The texture of the coffee gelato was also a bit flaky, not smooth. The cone was a bit too stale and I didn’t finish it.
Costs: 2 scoops on a cone: €2,00
#3. Gelateria Stalìn in Vernazza
This was a very good contender too. Vernazza is well represented for the best ice cream of Cinque Terre! My boyfriend had the flavors Lemon, Basil and menthe with chocolate. I opted for the Cinque Terre Honey, passion fruit and forest fruit.
The reason why this gelateria is on #3 in the top 5 is because I didn’t like my honey flavored gelato at all. It was just plain vanilla and I didn’t even detect a hint of honey there. The passion fruit was really outspoken which was a good thing.
My boyfriend on the other hand, loved his flavors. The lemon was really sour, which is a good thing in this case and the basil flavored ice cream had a smooth and silky texture.
Costs: 3 scoops on a cone: €3,00
#2. Gelateria Vernazza
This gelateria stood strong on the number one position, until it got knocked out at the very last minute. One can even argue it could be a shared win. But, I decide, so #2 it is. Why is the gelato at Gelateria Vernazza the 2nd best ice cream of Cinque Terre?
Local Lemon: this was by far the best lemon ice cream I had ever had. I paired it with a dark forest fruit ice cream in a cone.
My boyfriend had the local flavor, Cinque Terre (white chocolate, mascarpone and fruits of the forest), which tasted a little flavorless. Because this is called their signature ice cream and it failed miserably, this gelateria got benched. We both thought the cone was a bit stale.
Costs: 2 scoops on a cone: €2,50
#1. The Winner! Gelateria Alberto in Corniglia
This was by far the best ice cream in Cinque Terre we tasted. My boyfriend had dark chocolate with basil and lemon and I had dark chocolate with mango and forest fruit. The cone was crunchy and delicious, we got a waffle with it and the gelato was placed in delicious scoops on the cone. The fruity ice cream was really rich in flavor but not too sweet. The basil was really distinct and aromatic and the dark chocolate ice cream was like a bar of frozen dark chocolate.
Costs: 3 scoops on a cone: €3,50
Little note to this top 5 of best ice cream in Cinque Terre
As you can imagine, deciding which ice cream is the best of Cinque Terre, is nearly impossible. Obviously, we didn’t try them all. And we didn’t have the same flavors and flavor combination which can influence our taste too.
We did ,however, pay for every ice cream ourselves. All opinions are my own and cannot be contested. Although my boyfriend tries.
We did find something all of them had in common: They are not the best cone makers. All cones were a bit stale and tasted bland. We once had hand made on the spot cones at a gelateria in Florence which set the bar really high. If you want to taste as much ice cream in Cinque Terre as possible, I recommend to have everything in a cup instead of a cone. Except for the real gelato-in-Italy-experience, you won’t miss much.
Don’t they have good ice cream in Manarola?
If you’re paying attention, you can see we have each of the villages in our top 5, except Manarola. Didn’t we have gelato in this town in Cinque Terre? We did. We had gelato in Manarola at Bar la Plancia and had 3 flavors in a cup (€3,50). But we don’t remember their tastes anymore. It was normal, nothing special.
We had to have ice cream here because the other places were closed both times we visited Manarola. Both Gelateria 5 Terre and Gelateria Enrica in Manarola looked like better options to us, but when closed, there is not a whole lot of tasting you can do.
Have you been to Cinque Terre? Where did you find the best ice cream in Cinque Terre? Please share your favorite gelato flavor in the comment sections below.