La Piazza Blog & Stories
Gelato, Southern Italian Style
May 10, 2019

Gelato, Southern Italian Style

gelato ice cream

Very few other places in the world do ice cream as well as Italy. And no place does ice cream in Italy, like Southern Italy.

On Ciclismo Classico’s Bike Across Southern Italy, you have the opportunity to taste for yourself what the south can do. Frank Yantorno and Dana Geraghty are two veteran guides that know the flow of gelato! And they have shared some secrets with us…

Hot summer temperatures mean the ice cream needs to be cool and refreshing. For discerning Italian palates, local ice cream makers need to up their game to stay ahead of the curve. New flavors, local ingredients, and creative recipes are booming with the rejuvenated summer, refreshment scene.

Here are four of our favorites that you can find from Polignano to Palinuro:

Polignano a Mare: Puglia

Polignano is more than just the birthplace of Domenico Modugno. It’s also the native city of Mario Campanella: master gelataio. Since 1930 Mario has made the city’s best frozen-treats and to this day is known as a “Super Mago del Gelo:” A gelato magician. Mario began as a young boy helping his father with the family almond production. He began to mix crushed almonds with the local “grattose” – or shaved ice – making some of the city’s best granita. Ever since then, it’s been a sweet deal for Mario and his family.

Many Italians end up in Mario’s shop either for the gelato or for his famous “café speciale“, an espresso made with a dollop of whipped cream, a shot of amaretto, and steamed lemon zest.

Selva di Fasano: Puglia

Of course, ice cream can come in all shapes and sizes. At Il Barrino, Pino and Marina make an extraordinary caffé freddo. But this isn’t any ordinary cold coffee. The family secret has been protected for years so you can’t make it at home. You’ll have to come with Ciclismo Classico in Puglia and see for yourself.

Alberobello: Puglia

Katia has inherited an old family tradition: making gelato and granita the old fashioned way in Alberobello. At Arte Fredda, the gelato makers learned their craft from the patriarch Paolo – of international fame. After working over twelve years with the family, Katia decided to branch out on her own and in 1994, began this amazing business in Alberobello.

Only the freshest ingredients are used, such as the renown Bronte pistachios from Sicily, or the almonds from the groves along quiet country roads. Everything is seasonal and fresh and nothing is left to chance. But it’s not just the ingredients that make the top story.

Imagine fruits filled with gelato, cakes painted by hand, and wine sorbets. This isn’t just ice cream, it’s modern art. With flavors as exotic as mango, prickly pear and mulberry, there is bound to be a flavor that pleases everyone.

Palinuro: Campania

“Cioccolato e Pistacchio” is not to be missed on our final Bike Across Southern Italy days. Carmello is an aging gelato master who still recalls pushing ice cream carts with his father in the 1940s and 50s. From his beginnings on the Palinuro beach, he has created a name for himself and his family business. His ability to create unique and special flavors is a testament to his over 70 years of gelato experience.

One of his signature dishes is his popular “tatufon” gelato: a play on the typically prepackaged “truffle” ice cream, Carmello makes his version incredible. The master uses only the finest dark chocolate and plays with temperatures and textures to mimic the famous truffle, but with so much more flavor. He mixes in fresh almonds and local raw honey for busting flavor sensations.

Carmelo often invents his own flavors and sensations. For example, his Baba al Rhum is a magnificent play on the sweet pastry of the same name. Whereas the cake makes a great ending at a meal, Carmello’s Baba al Rhum is a fabulous ending to the day’s twenty-kilometer descent.

Of course, Carmello lets us into his laboratory to share the secrets of his trade. He explains to us how he comes up with new flavors, gives us samples to try, and demonstrates his process of making granita and gelato.

And that’s simply the cherry on top of the sundae.

Learn more about our Bike Across Southern Italy trip.

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