Dreaming of Gelato

by | Jun 10, 2020 | Desserts, Italy Travels, Personalities | 1 comment

Breakfast in Sorrento

Let me introduce my writing friend, colleague, and guest blogger, Jolie Tunnell. Jolie is witty, sassy, and knows how to tell a story. Her blog at JolieTunnell.com shares humerous tales of her five children, husband, and new kitten and is always a fun read. She’s got a lot more action on her site than just her blog, so please check it out! 

Recently we were bemoaning the fact that we couldn’t just jump on a plane and fly to Italy for inspiration. Inspiration meaning immediately heading to the local gelateria for a pick-me-up. I asked her to share her experiences with this Italian classic to give us all a break from reality.

Thank you Jolie!

In 2018, guest blogger Jolie Tunnell and her Hubby spent their 30th wedding anniversary traveling Italy and sampling the cuisine. By “sample,” we mean “ate as much as they could hold on any given day.” This is her take on the gelato experience, followed by recommendations for locally sourcing the tempting treat.

Not all gelato is created equal.

As a matter of fact, you cannot walk a Roman city block without tripping face first into three different gelato displays, and as tempting as it is to eat your way through Italy with a cucchiaio (spoon) in your hand, you need to know the “Good” sources from the “Great.” You don’t have to settle for less, here in the motherland.

On every street corner.

“Good” will have a small case of flavors, ten or so basics, tucked into a larger establishment like a restaurant or souvenir shop. “Good” gelato is made in a factory from sullen cows with whatever ingredients are handy, but you may as well try it in order to educate your palate.

When Pesto Meets Gelato

“Great” will have a wide variety of flavors, twenty at least, in a place dedicated only to this frozen delight. It will have over 150 if you’ve arrived in gelato Nirvana…which exists in Rome. Maybe it has won major awards for deliciousness in Sorrento. It will say “gelateria” over the door and have a bonafide gelato party going on inside. 

The Real Deal

“Great” gelato is crafted from the finest fresh ingredients from someone’s secret family recipe that Nonna left under her pillow. Each artisanal flavor will be piled into tall fluffy mountains of joy with bits of the ingredient tossed on top. ie: the pineapple gelato will be wearing a pineapple crown and the walnut gelato will be studded with walnuts. They branch out with lighter sorbets, too, just to mix things up.

Browsing Lido.

The chilled pan of nocciola will be half empty because the Master Gelatieres can’t stop sampling it for quality control.

Corniglia Cuties

This place is taking gelato as seriously as you are and that’s good Great.

Roman Cookie Topper.

Next – always choose a cup, not a cone. Don’t be that guy with the cone we watched over and over, wandering sideways into the middle of a busy square attempting to lick his gelato into submission and losing the battle. You will run into him later in the baptistry – sprinkled in holy pistachio. Marked by his dedication.

Gelato deserves your complete attention.


Now for the best part: Choosing your flavors. Begin slowly, don’t hurt yourself. We began with single flavor starter cups and worked our way up to professional level with three for four flavors at once. This allowed us to sample sometimes eight flavors at a time, because sharing is caring. 

Also, this is how you discover that tart lemon and smooth chocolate go surprising well together in a single lick. My absolute favorites were the pear and the fig. The flavors are rich but also subtle, with bits of dried sweet pear or fresh fig swirled into the gelato. Unusual and delicious. 

Last licks.

While we impatiently wait for a chance to revisit this beautiful country, its delicious cuisine, and its precious people, we offer you a quick perusal of local San Diego gelaterias. Enjoy your sweet summer treat on a friendly neighborhood sidewalk as the sun drops into the west and remind yourself that Italy is only a lick away.


Voglio mangiare il gelato tutto il giorno!  (I want to eat gelato all day long!)

San Diego Gelato:

Chocolat Hillcrest, 5th Ave

Bobboi Natural Gelato, Little Italy & La Jolla

Gelato Paradiso, Coronado

Milkissimo Gelato, Mission Valley Mall

Bottega Italiana (UTC Mall), Nado Gelato (Coronado), Gelato 101 (Encinitas)

Pappalecco, Hillcrest

An’s Dry Cleaning, Adams Ave

EscoGelato, Escondido

Gelato Vero Cafe, India St, Caffe Italia, Little Italy

Zero Gelato, Normal Heights

Dolce Italian Ice, Pacific Beach

Figaro Dessert Cafe, University Ave

Gelato & Friends, N Harbor Dr

Gelati & Peccati, North Park

Cor di Gelato, Mission Beach

Jolie Tunnell is a freelance writer, blogger, and aspiring novelist with a background that includes administration, education, and – thanks to her five kids – a sixteen year stint in the PTA. She serves up hard-won wisdom with humor, compassion and insight from her home in San Diego, California. Visit her at JolieTunnell.com, LinkedIn, or Facebook, or be her writing buddy at NaNoWriMo.

Flavors worth finding:

Cocco (coconut)


Amarena (tart cherry swirl)

Deep Dark Cioccolato (death by chocolate)

Stracciatella (a bit like chocolate chip)

Peanut (not peanut butter sadly, but more like a raw peanut ice cream)

Pera (pear and ricotta)



Albicocca (apricot)

Nocciola (hazelnut)

Mango (basically you are just eating a chilled perfect mango)

Limone (tart lemon)

Mistero Latino (it’s still a Latin Mystery to me but it was quite tasty)

Fico (fig)

Caffe (coffee)

Ciao for now,

About Mary Knight

I have always been passionate about food and its origin, all things France and Julia Child. Travel tugs at my heart, luring me to new places where I can feast my eyes and senses, taste local …

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