Gelateria Nico

Gelato is different from ice cream. This was the first thing I learned upon moving to Italy. Gelato is very different from ice cream.

The word gelato itself encourages a delicious rolling of the tongue compared with the clipped ‘ice cream’ of English – such a difference transfers itself to taste. Gelato tends to be a mix of eggs, milk and a much lower portion of cream than traditional western ice cream. Served around ten to fifteen degrees warmer than ice cream, gelato’s consistency creates a heightened ‘melt in the mouth’ effect, and the gusto is greatly enhanced by this simple switch.

I’m sure there will be challengers to this statement: the best gelato in Venice, hands down, comes from Gelateria Nico. Hidden round the back of L’Accademia, looking out onto the Giudecca Canal, it’s a stop often neglected by those sticking religiously to St. Mark’s square and its surrounding finery. However, slip past the mania and you’ll find the gelato of your dreams and a relaxing sanctuary from the hub of Venice’s centre. This gelato is hand-made, and flavours are aplenty and some unique to Nico’s; an incredible feat in this day and age. Perhaps the most famous of these many flavours remains the gianduiotto, their very first in 1937.

Location-wise, the small open-front Gelateria in Dorsoduro is hard to beat. The elegant interior room is flanked by tables and chairs and expands out onto the historic outdoor terrace and sun-drenched walkway of Fondamenta Zattere ai Gesuati. Grab a table and watch the ferries and vaporetti cruise along the main Venetian canal as you indulge. Alternatively sit with your legs swinging off the walkway’s edge for full effect – the entire area makes for excellent people-watching.

Words by Thea Hawlin

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