A little competition never hurt anyone, and it's done exactly the opposite for the gelato scene in Italy. There are tens of thousands of gelato-eers across the country, making the rivalries fierce and the standards are high. Just check out the ice-y delights they whip up over at Di Bruno Gelato, Pico Gelato and Grom Il Gelato Come Una Volta.

Family resemblances

The wider world seems to think that gelato is Italian for ice cream. But we know better. Gelato and ice cream may be the same species but they're two different animals. The Italian creation is softer and smoother than its heavier ice cream cousin, with more milk but less fat, cream and eggs. This combination allows the dominant flavour to soar over the others, whether it be smooth vanilla, rich chocolate, sweet strawberry, fresh mint or others.

Gelato is also churned at a much slower pace, making it fold in less air, and creating a richer, denser product. Smoother, healthier and richer, it seems that gelato scored a knockout here.

Years in the making

Gelato is rumoured to go back hundreds of thousands of years, with some guys claiming that in ancient Rome people created a sweet frozen dessert from ice and covered in honey. Others state that it wasn't until the first ice cream machine was invented in the late 16th century. What we do know is that gelato properly took off in the 20s, with the first gelato cart being wheeled onto the streets of Varese.

Nowadays, there's more than 40,000 artisanal gelato makers across the country. There's even a Gelato University to make sure that the Italian tradition is passed down to a new generation of sweet makers.

Awesome authenticity

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Gelato is more than dessert in Italy, it's a point of pride and culture. Capturing this is Pico Gelato, who describe themselves as a project that popped up out of curiosity, perseverance and passion. Serving up a wide selection of eclectic flavours, like Bread Butter and Jam, Roman Ricotta with crispy almond or Pineapple and Ginger, Pico is like a laboratory that wants to revolutionise gelato.

Grom Il Gelato Come Una Volta makes gelato 'as it used to be made.' They whip it all from scratch in-house here, which means that they've been dishing out their own unique flavour combinations for years – there's the biting Siracusa Lemon, smooth Tonda Gentile hazelnut, aromatic Guatemalan coffee and classic Apurimac chocolate from Perù.

Di Bruno Gelato traces its origins back to the hills of historical Romagna, where a recipe book of gelato was created and is still used today. The tastes and flavours, which include the likes of lemon, tropical pineapple, nutty pistachio and fragrant cinnamon, all have one thing in common – they blend together harmoniously.

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