Europe: An Ice-Cream Expedition

From stroopwafels to schmalznudeln, cream cake to corn flakes – I love discovering the different kinds of sweet treats that exist all over the world. But no matter where I go, one pattern remains the same: I eat a heck of a lot of ice-cream. In flicking through my photos from last year’s Europe trip this was outstandingly obvious. I actually think a good percentage of our entire foreign language learning came simply from trying to decipher ice-cream flavour listings (fraise, fragola, erdbeer?).

It seems only right to share my findings of the frozen world, should you wish to blaze your own ice-cream trail across the great continent of Europe.

Berthillon | Paris, France

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There is no point arguing: you simply must have Berthillon ice-cream whilst in Paris. It’s stocked in many restaurants across the city, but you’ll find the original store on lovely Île Saint-Louis – a perfect pitstop if you’re visiting Notre Dame. Mat and I were lucky enough to stay in a gorgeous Airbnb just a stone’s throw from Île Saint-Louis, so we were perhaps destined for a love affair with Paris’ most famous ice-creamery. Founded in 1954, Berthillon built its reputation on stunning fruit sorbets and beautiful, creamy glacés (I don’t think Mat’s ever been quite the same since his first lick of the roasted pineapple and basil sorbet). Believe me when I say it is a perfect sort of heaven to slowly stroll along the Seine on a warm Parisian evening with a Berthillon ice-cream in hand. 

29-31 Rue Saint Louis en l’Ile, Paris | Open: 10am – 8pm Wednesday – Sunday 

Der verrückte Eismacher | Munich, Germany

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Mat and I trekked across Munich to Der verrückte Eismacher based on a quick TripAdvisor search for something sweet. The reviews raved: for extraordinary ice-cream, this is where we needed to go. They weren’t wrong. Translating from German as ‘The Crazy Ice Maker’, Der verrückte Eismacher really is kind of bonkers. It’s styled after Alice in Wonderland and the man behind the store fits very well into the ‘Mad Hatter of Ice-Cream’ role – creating a rotation of fantastical flavours like habanero, asparagus, paprika, and beer (this is Munich after all). Lucky there’s also just plain fantastic flavours like applesauce pancakes, strawberry Champagne, and Bavarian cream. Mat was proffered a relatively pleasant sample of the beer ice-cream, whilst I was instead handed the meatloaf flavour – an interesting experience I’m happy to never, ever repeat. For my purchase I took the safe route with a scoop of the strawberry, basil and balsamic vinegar, and a scoop of the chocolate sorbet. 

Amalienstrasse 77, Munich| Open: 11am – 9.30pm Monday – Saturday, 12.30pm – 9.30pm Sunday

Perchè No! | Florence, Italy

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Perchè No!‘ means ‘Why Not!’ in Italian – and when it comes to gelato, that is a beautiful sentiment indeed. Mat and I were introduced to this gem by Natale (pictured above), who was our local guide for Urban Adventures‘ Florence Foodies Walk one sweltering Tuscany afternoon. We were so happy to skirt the sweaty crowds and explore a few foodie hideaways with Natale, who was particularly passionate about bringing our little group to Perchè No! in the heart of town. Churned fresh every day and made using only the finest natural, seasonal ingredients, this gelato is sensational. The pistachio is a Perchè No! pride, but the watermelon sorbet and berry mousse were also huge hits for us. Florence is a city filled to the brim with gelaterias of vastly varying quality, so it’s definitely worth tracking down a place like Perchè No! for the seriously genuine stuff. 

Via dei Tavolini 19/R, Florence | Open: 11am – 11pm Wednesday – Monday, 12pm – 8pm Tuesday

Gelateria Dondoli | San Gimignano, Italy

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Tucked away in a medieval walled village on a Tuscan hilltop, Gelateria Dondoli has become rather renowned as the winner of back-to-back Gelato World Championships in the late 2000s. I visited on my first trip to Europe in 2010, and that delicious memory made quite sure that Mat and I returned to savour once more last year. The line stretching long into San Gimignano’s main square is enough to suggest: this is a gelato spot you want to know more about. I love the wonderful, inventive flavours like raspberry and rosemary, blackberry and lavender, pink grapefruit and sparkling wine, and saffron cream. A perfect antidote to a day’s trekking in the beastly Tuscan heat (as you see above, my face turns rather red at the slightest physical exertion in hot weather – Gelato Dondoli was a very welcome relief!).

Piazza Della Cisterna 4, San Gimignano | Open: 9am – 11.30pm Monday – Sunday (March – November)

Grom | Venice, Italy 

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Grom was first recommended to us by Cristina and Matteo, our lovely Airbnb hosts in Paris. Mat and I had firm intentions to visit the Paris store just off Boulevard Saint-Germain on our final night in The City of Lights, but it seems we got all too carried away at our local wine and charcuterie bar instead; we arrived at Grom late that night just in time to see the doors close. Luckily for us, the Paris store turned out to be one of many dotted across Europe and beyond. Our time would come in Venice, where we slurped happily at the Campo San Barnaba store every day. Grom’s philosophy is all about organic, natural ingredients, and for me the stand-outs were the cream flavours like Crema di Grom (pastry cream, Columbian chocolate chips and Grom’s crispy cornflour cookies) and Straciatella (Fiordilatte and big chunks of Columbian chocolate).

Campo San Barnaba, 30123 Venice | Open: 11am – 12am Saturday, 11am – 11pm Sunday – Friday (May – September) // 11am – 10.30pm Friday – Saturday, 11am – 10pm Sunday – Thursday (October – April)

Bled Island Potičnica | Bled, Slovenia

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This was by no means an earth-shattering ice-cream experience in itself – but there’s something about rowing (okay, getting your boyfriend to row you) to a tiny island in the middle of a turquoise, glacial lake in Slovenia that’ll make anything taste pretty damn great. From an ice-cream cart outside the Bled Island Potičnica, a little cafe wedged atop Bled Island, I opted for a cup of kremšnita, or Bled Cream Cake (a beloved local dessert) ice-cream. We sat beneath Bled Island’s famous church and looked out onto a vista of lake and forest and even a medieval cliff-top castle. An A+ ice-cream moment.

Bled Island, Bled 

Café Feichtner | Grünau im Almtal, Austria

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Another in the realm of contextual ice-cream greatness comes Café Feichtner in Grünau im Almtal, a cosy little town in the Austrian alps. Above all, Grünau is simply one of the most magical places I’ve ever visited. I’ve found my way there a couple of times now at the hospitality of Gerhard and company at The Treehouse, and if you ever have the opportunity to do so yourself I could not recommend it more. It is a haven for the weary traveller. On our trip last year Mat and I discovered Café Feichtner in town – a solace for my sweet tooth in the shape of decadent ice-cream sundaes. A handy thing for a haven to have indeed.

Im Dorf 17, Grunau im Almtal 4645 | Open: 7am – 8pm (April – October) // 8am – 7pm (November – March)

 Now, the all-important question: where to next time? I would love to hear about your own ice-cream discoveries!

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  • http://www.slightlyastray.com/ Anna | slightly astray

    Europe in the summer to me is all about ice cream!! Last summer, I was up to eating ice cream like 3x a day. I’m trying to limit myself to only 1 a day this summer! I would absolutely die for the Alice in Wanderland creamery (as I’m obsessed with anything AiW and strange flavors!!) but sadly Munich is not on the itinerary. I have however, made note of the place in Florence :D.

    • http://www.littlewanderings.com/ Terri @ Little Wanderings

      Oh, you must definitely try and make it to Munich some other time then! You would love it. I hear there is a cool Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant in Japan – you’ll have to hunt it down when you’re there later in the year! :D

      Definitely make a stop a Perchè No! if you can. You’ll have to keep tabs of any super special ice-cream places you find this summer – I’d love to hear about awesome new spots xx

  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    Aaaahhh, I was just in Florence recently but didn’t make it to Perche no! I had been recommended that one along with about 4 other fabulous ones and simply couldn’t squeeze everything in. The ones I had were great but I will definitely remember this tip if I ever return! Love this round up! I tried Kremsnita flavoured gelato in Slovenia too as well as a piece of the Kremsnita cake and it was seriously delicious!

    • http://www.littlewanderings.com/ Terri @ Little Wanderings

      Oooh, you’ll have to let me know your own Florence gelato discoveries, Shikha. Am always keeping an eye out for new places I should hunt down on return visits! :D

      And oh, the kremšnita! How good is it? Just when you think Bled couldn’t be more perfect!

  • http://chasingaplate.com/ Chasing a Plate

    I forgot my lunch today and am reading this post. WHYYYYYYYYYY?!? LOVE the sound of the crema di Grom!! YUM!

    • http://www.littlewanderings.com/ Terri @ Little Wanderings

      Haha! Sorry! (On that note though, ice-cream for lunch sounds like a great idea and I’m now 100% inspired to make a trip to Messina on my lunch break tomorrow!)

  • http://peekingduck.co/ Yasmine

    Wow, I cannot wait to get to Italy after looking at this!!

    Yasmine | http://peekingduck.co

    • http://www.littlewanderings.com/ Terri @ Little Wanderings

      It’s a gelato wonderland! Do you have upcoming Italy plans, Yasmine? :D

      • http://peekingduck.co/ Yasmine

        I’m headed there for 6 weeks of solid eating in September – starting with gelato!!

        • http://www.littlewanderings.com/ Terri @ Little Wanderings

          Oh, that is so exciting! Gelato is most certainly a daily requirement whilst in Italy. 6 whole weeks! Where are you planning to visit?

          • http://peekingduck.co/ Yasmine

            Rome, Naples, Puglia and Bologna. I’m so excited for the food!

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  • MarshallKohl

    As far as I know the best ice-cream is in Italy

    • http://www.littlewanderings.com/ Terri @ Little Wanderings

      Thank you! Have a wonderful time in Italy!

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  • Anna Johnston

    I wish scientists would hurry the fudge up and figure out that whole beam me up thing. :) I want in on a trip to Italy in Summer to eat all the ice-cream. Pretty dress too. Gorgeous colours.

    • http://www.littlewanderings.com/ Terri @ Little Wanderings

      It would be rather nice, wouldn’t it! Honestly, a daily gelato in Italy just makes sense. And thank you! x