It seems so long ago now, but in 2005 when I finished my Master's degree, Paul took me along on a trip to Italy and Germany. I believe everyone should visit Italy given the chance, although I think I love Germany more. This trip was peak-season, but we are very happy to travel in February/March/April when it's cooler and when the rates aren't so high. We have done that the last two years. But this was my first trip to Europe, and I will always remember it very fondly.
It was a group trip, which often makes things more fun. Paul's roommates were some guys we went to high school with. My roommate was their sister.
Gelato is special. There's nothing like it. You can call it Italian Ice Cream, but you aren't doing it justice. The fruit flavors are water-based, which means they are vegan. Anything else, like chocolate, is cream-based. No ice cream parlor in America has the options Gelaterias in Italy do. And no ice cream parlor in America has the rich, accurate flavors that gelato can give.
Lemon is the standard flavor. It is white and crisp to the eyes with a good bite on the tongue. It's a favorite. Paul says when you go to Italy as a group, you send out one person first thing in the day to taste the lemon at a gelateria. If it is good, you know the rest of the gelato from that shop will be good as well.
The gelato is scooped with a flat shovel, and you are allowed two flavors per cone. They are not served one on top of the other, but side-by-side. You always take advantage of the option. And when able, select one cream and one fruit flavor. I remember falling in love with a chocolate and raspberry mixture where this photo was taken. Paul often selects coffee, which I detest. I remember snacking on a pineapple flavor while standing in line at the Vatican. I remember a Kiwi and Strawberry selection one day. Even flavors that don't sound like they make sense, like lemon and chocolate, taste good as a gelato.
One of the leaders for the trip said they had a tough time when they stopped in Pisa. The first gelateria was too expensive. (Yes, there is a limit to the price you should pay for good gelato.) The second didn't taste excellent. The third was just right. I have not traveled enough to be able to select perfection, but I am game to keep learning.
Thank you to Paul, my in-laws, and Star Mountain Travel for my favorite trip to Europe ever!