This subject is very close to my heart as I spent many years and hundreds of euro honing my gelato taste buds, testing flavor after flavor until I knew, without a doubt, the best that Florence had to offer. I present here my findings (along with some helpful tips to keep in mind for first time travelers).
Gelato (the national snack of Italy) is sold not by size (as in scoops) but by monetary value: one euro, two euro and up. The particular establishment decides how much that equates to in your cup or cone. I never get more than 2 euros unless it has been a really really bad day.
AVOID gelato places that are
a) near big tourist traps or
b) do not have their prices/sizes shown. I have had students pay as much as 10 euro for what should be 2 or 3 euro because they didn’t look for a clearly displayed price list.
Gelateria Neri, Via dei Neri, 20-22/R
Super super good and once my home away from home as I lived just around the corner. If you are feeling frisky get the Nutella crepe. You will never regret it, EVER. Favorite gelato flavors include the white chocolate and Crema di Giotto.
Vivoli, Via Isole delle Stinche, 7/R
This is the most famous gelateria in Florence and, unsurprisingly, the most expensive. It is actually pretty amazing but the price to quantity of gelato ratio always pissed me off a little. If you go you must try their fruit flavors, which are particularly good, especially the pear and caramel or anything with figs! It is a little hidden so just ask if you get lost-everyone knows where it is.
Coronas Café, On via Calziaoli @ the Corso
This is an old favorite in the city. It is actually just a bar with like 4 or 5 different flavors of gelato but each and every one is exceptional. Try the coffee and pastries too. So good. Don’t let the crowds dissuade you, push on in.
Perche No?, Just off Calzaioli and around the corner from Piazza della Signoria
This place is in a rather central location but somehow remains a well-hidden treasure. Most of the people who frequent tend to be Italian and the flavors they offer tend to rotate more than at other locations. If they have Rose gelato, get it! Also, if it is summer and 100 degrees, skip the gelato and get the “granita.” This is a kind of ice slushy but better. It is much more refreshing, especially if you add panna (whipped cream).