Last Updated on November 16, 2021 by Jella Erhard
Italy’s Best Gelato Shop Is Hidden In This Charming Town
If you want to find Italy’s best gelato shop you should head to the charming town of Borgo San Lorenzo in Mugello, Tuscany where you will find gelato master Marco Ottaviano and his quaint gelateria. Come, journey with me to Tuscany for some authentic Italian hospitality and for the best gelato in all the realms.
Let’s start with the basics, shall we?
Where is Borgo San Lorenzo?
Borgo San Lorenzo is only a 40-minute train ride or 50 minutes by car from Florence and about one and 1,30-hour train ride from Pisa.
How to get to Borgo San Lorenzo?
The easiest, fastest, and cheapest solution is by train. It’s only about $12 for a return ticket from Florence SMN to Borgo San Lorenzo. Trains leave in every hour. You can, of course, rent a car or even a bike if you feel like you’re up to the challenge.
You can get to Borgo San Lorenzo from Pisa by train as well. It’s about one and a half hours away and costs $22.
Marco Ottaviano in his gelateria in Borgo San Lorenzo.
Why Marco Ottaviano’s Gelateria is the best gelato shop in Italy?
What makes Signor Ottaviano’s gelato so special?
There is no single answer to that question. His exceptional knowledge, heritage, curious soul, and high standards are all part of the answer.
His love for gelato started early on. His first memories were when his grandfather who was also a gelato artisan showed him how gelato is made. “It was like magic.” Says Marco who from that point never stopped learning the various ways of gelato making in Florence.
Marco not only studied the ins and outs of gelato making in the classrooms but also during his travels around Italy. He learned the best recipes and practices from Sicily to Florence where he ended up opening his first gelateria.
Florence is not only the birthplace of the Renaissance but also the birthplace of gelato. His gelateria was number one on Tripadvisor for many years. Until one day Marco and his wife Cinzia closed up their shop in Florence and moved to Borgo San Lorenzo.
I knew his gelateria from Florence. Whenever I revisited my favorite city I was always looking forward to trying out new flavors at his gelato shop. Therefore, I was surprised and sad to see the closed shop and quickly visited their Facebook page to ask them about what happened. When they told me that they simply moved from Florence to Borgo San Lorenzo I knew I have to visit the new gelato shop and find out why they moved their fan-favorite gelateria.
Marco & his wife Cinzia.
High quality & organic ingredients
Marco believes in quality over quantity, as a result, he wanted to work in a place where he can spend more time in his laboratory experimenting with ingredients. Furthermore, he wanted to have a gelato shop in a town close to local suppliers who are able to bring fresh, organic ingredients to his gelateria.
Even after the gelato making process, you can still clearly taste all the ingredients in his gelato. Four of my favorites were the peach, hazelnut, chocolate sorbet, and a cream with organic ricotta cheese.
I had the chance of visiting some of the small local farms and try out the raw ingredients he uses in his gelato. Now I know how Ricotta is made and how incredible its smell and taste are when its fresh. As well as how sweet Italy’s famous ‘Bianca Rosa‘ (white rose) peach smells like.
Marco works with small local farms who are also dedicated to serving high-quality, organic products to their customers.
Organic hazelnut cream with and without cocoa. Taste this and you’ll forget Nutella forever.
The beautiful ‘Bianca Rosa’ peach right after it’s picked off the tree & ready to be shipped.
Fresh, steamy ricotta at Bacciotti farm.
The area and the sheep of Bacciotti farm.
Marco’s creations are not only yummy but healthy
Since Marco likes to keep up with time he’s always experimenting with new techniques not only to create new flavors but to create new recipes that truly everyone can enjoy.
I have a gluten and lactose allergy and while mine is not so serious I know for a fact that for many these issues cause a serious health problem. This was just another reason I fell in love with Marco’s gelato; because his creations are healthy.
I couldn’t believe how similar his lactose and gluten-free sorbets to gelato really are. Not only because of its creamy texture but also because of their rich flavors. Many of the gelatos in his shop can be enjoyed by people who have celiacs, diabetes, and who follow a gluten-free or lactose-free diet.
Marco and Cinzia believe in traditions as well. They created a warm, fun shop that has a charming family vibe just like the gelaterias of the past. Every time I step into their shop my inner child awakens and childhood memories come rushing back to me.
The gelato stand.
A traditional Sicilian recipe ‘Brioche Con Gelato’ or gelato sandwich.
What else can you do in Borgo San Lorenzo?
The list is almost never-ending…
You can and should book a gelato tasting with Marco for sure. Don’t forget to let him know if you have any specific dietary requirements. However, there are so many more things to discover in Borgo San Lorenzo and in the Mugello area, that you can easily spend here a day or two at least.
Mugello really has everything you need; beautiful, scenic roads and landscapes. It has charming, authentic Italian towns and villages, traditional quality restaurants, an exciting and rich history, but most of all its people offer warm hospitality. I plan to write another post on Mugello and Borgo San Lorenzo to show you why you should be visiting this area on your next trip to Tuscany.
Piazza Garibaldi & the town’s library with Borgo San Lorenzo’s ancient family logos on the facade.
One of Borgo San Lorenzo’s many delightful backstreets. No tourists, only Tuscan allure.
The famous clock tower from the 13th century.
Beautiful olive trees at local farms.
I would like to thank Marco and Cinzia who welcomed me and showed me around in Borgo and the lovely farms. As well as thank Giuseppe Corrente for showing me the lesser-known parts of Borgo San Lorenzo and for telling me it’s fascinating history and traditions. I can’t wait to return and discover more!
Looking for more info about Italy or Unique eateries? Check out these posts