Life is too short for bad gelato. Read on to see our picks for the best gelato in Bologna Italy plus bonus picks in nearby Modena, Parma and Reggio Emilia.
Eating gelato in Bologna is a stressful business. First, you have to decide on the size, either piccolo (small) or gigante (large). Then you must choose between a cono (cone) or coppetta (cup).
And that’s before the daunting task of choosing among a dozen or so tempting gelato flavors like pistachio, stracciatella and salted caramel. To make matters worse, the best Bologna gelaterias often have long lines of gelato lovers dealing with the same difficult decisions.
It’s a miracle we made it through over two weeks in Bologna in these conditions. As you can see from our photo, we weren’t happy at all.
Now that we have your sympathy, we can admit the truth. We love everything about eating gelato in Bologna. We love the difficult decisions, the long lines and even the occasional surly service. Most of all, we love the taste and texture of creamy, dreamy Bologna gelato.
Though we’ve eaten great Italian gelato in cities all over Italy including Florence, Naples, Matera, Trento, Venice and Verona, we’ve never eaten better gelato than in Bologna (except for Rome). In fact, we rank eating gelato in Bologna as one of the top things to do in Emilia Romagna.
If you’re wondering what to do in Bologna – the answer is always to eat gelato. Seriously, eating gelato is one of the best food experiences in Bologna.
Discover the best desserts in Italy beyond gelato.
Table of Contents
- The Best Gelato in Bologna
- Further Afield Gelaterias
- Gelato in Bologna FAQs
- Planning Checklist
The Best Gelato in Bologna
Give us all the gelato!
Could we find the best gelatos in Bologna in just over two weeks during our recent visit? We answered this challenge with a rallying cry as we traversed the city and sampled top Bologna gelaterias before narrowing them down to a manageable list.
1. Cremeria Santo Stefano
A tiny jewel box of a gelateria, award-winning Cremeria Santo Stefano stands out among the best Bologna gelaterias for its knock-our-socks-off flavor and stylish decor.
We loved the intensity of gelatos like Budino di Provenza, Speculoos and Pistacchio Salato del Bosforo during our multiple visits to Cremeria Santo Stefano. However, it was the Cioccolato del Santo gelato that truly blew us away with its deep chocolate flavor.
We also love the shop’s chic style with its displays of dried flowers and herbs adding colorful design elements to an old-fashioned, turn of the century storefront. Don’t be surprised when you visit Cremeria Santo Stefano as sometimes the line winds around the block. Trust us – the line will move quickly and you will be happy you waited.
Peek inside the gelateria’s laboratory to see where the magic happens.
Cremeria Santo Stefano is located at Via Santo Stefano, 70, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy.
2. Galliera 49
Plan to be patient since Galliera 49’s counter is always filled with customers clamoring for the edgy gelateria’s artisanal gelato made with fresh milk and fair trade cane sugar as well as Sicilian-style granitas loaded with fresh fruit. Like the best things in life, this gelato is worth the wait.
Though several locals recommended Galliera 49 to us, we weren’t convinced of its excellence until our second visit when we tried the shop’s Cuba gelato made with dark chocolate and sour cherries. We became fans and repeat customers after one bite of the addictive concoction.
Ask for whipped cream on top of your gelato, sorbet or granita. Servers provide the tasty topping on a complimentary basis at Galliera 49.
Galliera 49 is located at Via Galliera, 49/b, 40121 Bologna BO, Italy.
3. La Sorbetteria Castiglione
Our memory of eating gelato at La Sorbetteria Castiglione became legendary in our minds.
We ate there during our initial Bologna visit in 2010 and memories can be a tricky thing. We feared disappointment during our return visit to the stalwart Bologna gelateria, but we’re pleased to report that the gelato quality has not deteriorated over the years – the gelato is just as pure and creamy as we remembered.
The Dolce Michelangelo with cream of almond and caramelized almond is the shop’s most popular flavor, though the Dolce Emma with fresh ricotta, eggs and caramelized figs is our favorite so far. We’ve since returned multiple times to be sure, always eating our cones under an ancient portico as one does in Bologna.
Don’t be afraid to order gelato if you have special dietary requirements. La Sorbetteria Castiglione has Gluten-Free gelato as well as options for vegans and guests with allergies.
La Sorbetteria Castiglione is located at Via Castiglione, 44 d/e, 40124 Bologna BO, Italy.
4. Stefino Gelato Biologico
Gluten and Free aren’t words that usually attract us to desserts, but we gave the gelato at Stefino Gelato Biologio a try during our Bologna pasta making class. Stefino delivers fresh gelato to local customers in 35 minutes or less for those who don’t want to wait in line.
We later visited the gelateria and ate a treat called brioche con gelato – two scoops inside a house-made brioche roll. Since the certified organic gelateria’s gelato is low in both sugar and fat, we like to think the calories evened out. We’re sticking to this story.
Stefino Gelato Biologico has vegan gelato options for our readers who follow that culinary lifestyle.
Stefino Gelato Biologico is located at Via S. Vitale, 37, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy.
5. Gelateria Carpigiani
Did we mention that we’re now trained gelato experts? Though that claim is a bit of a stretch, we are smarter about making gelato after taking a Discovering Gelato class at Carpigiani Gelato University just outside of Bologna.
Designed for gelato enthusiasts, this light-hearted class celebrates Italian ice cream in all of its creamy, dreamy glory. The university also teaches more extensive classes for global students who journey to Bologna to learn how to make the best gelato in the world for business purposes.
During our class, Maéva Noël guided us through the history of gelato through the centuries before teaching us how to make artisanal Carpigiani gelato from scratch. As fun and informative as the class was, the best part was eating the resulting gelato and sampling other flavors in Caprigiani’s gelateria.
Watch our YouTube video to see what it’s like to learn how to make gelato at Carpigiani’s Discovering Gelato class.
6. Il Gelatauro
A favorite of noted food author and blogger David Lebovitz, Il Gelatauro is a bit off the tourist trail. We almost skipped this gelateria since it was a long walk from our Bologna apartment, but we’re glad we made the extra effort with two days to spare.
Despite its traditional atmosphere, the team at Il Gelatauro uses organic ingredients like Australian ginger and Bronte pistachios. Wherever possible, this Bologna gelateria sources ingredients at local markets for maximum freshness. The end result is some of the best gelato in Italy.
Looking for Bologna food souvenirs to enjoy now or later? In addition to gelato, Gelatauro also sells homemade cookies and chocolates.
Il Gelatauro is located at Via San Vitale, 98 / b, 40125 Bologna BO, Italy.
7. Cremeria Funivia
Named after a cable car station next to its original location, Cremeria Funivia puts the fun into gelato by adding chocolate sauce to the bottom of some of its cones. The artisan gelateria also creates gorgeous cakes for those looking for more than ice cream.
We loved their Alice cone with mascarpone gelato and melted dark chocolate. This flavor alone warrants a special trip.
Cremeria Funivia is closed on Mondays.
Cremeria Funivia is located at
Additional Bologna Gelaterias
If seven gelaterias aren’t enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, check out the following spots for more gelato love:
These additional Bologna gelaterias are chains with multiple locations serving gelato throughout Italy.
Further Afield Gelaterias
Since Bologna is a transportation hub, it’s super easy to take day trips to cities like Modena, Parma and Reggio Emilia. We recommend the following gelaterias during these day trips:
The Best Gelato in Modena
“[There was] an American guy walking in Vignola thinking about Milan.” Actually, we’d like to know the story here since that was the name of a gelato flavor (peanut butter, Vignola sour cherries and bitters) we ate at Gelateria Bloom in Modena.
Despite its unique flavors combinations and intriguing gelato names, Gelateria Bloom excels with simple flavors like pesca (peach) made with pure ingredients and without additives. As an extra bonus, the gelateria has a delightful bleach-white decor that’s ideal for taking Instagram photos.
The Best Gelato in Parma
It’s difficult to miss Ciacco Lab – the artisan gelateria is located directly across from the historic Teatro Regio. However, gelato lovers will say that Parma’s opera house is located directly across from Ciacco Lab.
Ciacco Lab’s owner, Stefano Guzzetti, takes gelato seriously by using the best available local and seasonal ingredients. His reward is a ‘three cones’ designation from Gambero Rosso. For food travelers, the reward is gelato worthy of a special trip.
Ciacco Lab has tempting dairy-free options for those who follow a lactose-free or vegan diet.
Ciacco Lab is located at Str. G. Garibaldi, 11, 43121 Parma PR, Italy.
The Best Gelato in Reggio Emilia
Eating at Cremeria Capolinea poses a challenge – narrowing down the choices from 24 seasonal flavors created in the gelateria’s upstairs laboratory. These flavors represent the best of Emilia Romagna, with most ingredients directly sourced from local farms using a ‘zero kilometer’ approach.
Owner and former computer scientist Simone De Feo makes gelato magic without using any artificial ingredients or emulsifiers. During our visit, we sampled a range of his sweet and savory flavors before ordering a cone topped with scoops of Robiola Cheese Pear and Prune gelato. Bliss on a cone!
Don’t hesitate to order a sweet treat to go with your gelato. You can choose from options like panettone, muffins and cookies.
Cremeria Capolinea is located at Viale Ettore Simonazzi, 14, 42121 Reggio Emilia RE, Italy.
Gelato in Bologna FAQs
Gelato has more milk and less cream compared to ice cream. It’s also delicious.
Most gelato in Bologna is good. The gelato at our recommended gelato shops is great.
While Cremeria Santo Stefano is our favorite Bologna gelato shop, the best way to answer this question is to taste them all yourself.
Anthony Bourdain didn’t include any Bologna gelato shops when he filmed the Emilia-Romagna episode for the ninth season of No Reservations
Stanley Tucci skipped eating gelato shops in Bologna when he filmed the first season of Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy. You’ll have to rely on our recommendations instead.
No. In fact, most Bologna gelato shops are highly affordable.
No. Tipping is optional in Italy.
It’s always a good time to eat gelato in Bologna.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: October 26, 2017
Republish Date: December 15, 2019