As I mentioned in my Cinque Terre travel guide, I am making good on my promise to update the best gelato in Cinque Terre list with any recent experiences. After all, a travel blog is only helpful if it is updated with additional information!
“Un piccolo cono con bacio e nocciola, per favore?”
One small cone with chocolate hazelnut and hazelnut, please.
That’s one of the Italian phrases I perfected while studying abroad.
While I was on a tight budget while studying abroad, there was one splurge I always had money for: gelato. You know why? Because you can get good gelato for a euro or two and that won’t break the travel budget. It became custom for one of my roommates and I to cook the cheapest dinners we could create before heading out for an evening walk with gelato.
One euro. Two euros. Never more than three euros.
We believed ourselves to be gelato aficionados, seeking the best of our favorite flavors and venturing all around Florence to find them.
I haven’t changed much. And, when it comes to gelato, that’s not a bad thing.
In each place I go in Italy, it’s fun to set out on a quest to find the best gelato and taste different flavors. Yes, that’s right, you can even eat gelato with the season in Italy. The Italian riviera, even in late March and early April, is no exception. After all, you know that they say. When in Italy… American ice cream cannot even compare – and not just because I can’t find a decent chocolate hazelnut either.
Guide to Cinque Terre Gelato
I set out on this trip to find the best gelato in Cinque Terre, happily scouring all the villages to find it. After months of a slow carb (no carb?) diet, I was more than happy to take one for the team to find the best gelato in each and every village in Cinque Terre.
Good gelato has a creamy texture, a relatively natural color, and isn’t piled high in display cases. It’s also relatively cheap. No 12-15 euro cones. While I didn’t notice offenders of the cardinal gelato rules in Cinque Terre, some gelato was better than others. That’s just a fact.
I’ve decided to count down my favorite gelatos and share the pros and the cons with you. Not one of these gelaterias produce a product that cannot be enjoyed by someone needing a gelato fix. The honorable mentions pale in comparison to the true contenders for the best gelato in Cinque Terre, but if you find yourself nearby, it will do. I’m up for the challenge of trying to help you find what you need.
Shout out to my husband for being the best gelato hand model there ever could be.
2 euro, small cup, Miele (honey) – After I finished Alberto’s gelato, it seemed only appropriate to try the gelato from across the street. I sent my husband in with the directive to ask for the most popular flavor. He came back with miele (which included bits of walnuts) and neither one of us were entirely sure about it. Like Alberto, it was creamy but not quite as soft. The wafer pirouette wasn’t quite as fresh as Alberto’s, but overall, it was tasty.
Alberto’s freshness allowed me to easily dub him the winner of this Sunday morning challenge, but both are great buys.
Golosone in Monterosso al Mare
I stalked this gelateria in Monterosso al Mare for two years before finding it open on our third trip to Cinque Terre. We typically travel during shoulder season, and most of the time, we end up in Monterosso al Mare late in the day. Golosone is rich, creamy gelato. The dark chocolate is so rich and creamy that it looks like a dip cone. (If you know what that is, comment below!) I’ve never met a gelato I didn’t think I could finish but Golosone made a compelling case. Make no mistake – it’s delicious. Rich and delicious.
Maybe the dark chocolate with raspberry or fruitti di bosco is the way to go.
Alberto Gelateria in Corniglia
2 euro, small cup, Nocciola (hazelnut) – Alberto’s gelato was soft and creamy with a subtle flavor that was not overpowering. The wafer was a nice (and delicious!) touch – fresh, flakey, and a strong taste of vanilla. I sat on the steps across the street and enjoyed watching children play. I went back in 2018 and it was just as good. The cone is one of my favorites in all of Cinque Terre. (I mean, who doesn’t love a fresh waffle cone?!)
There is no more refreshing reward after the stairs up to Corniglia than Alberto’s gelato.
Gelateria Stalin in Vernazza
The line at Gelateria Stalin might deter you, but don’t let it. It ebbs and flows. Walk down to the harbor and walk back. The line will (hopefully) be gone. That’s our strategy anyway. Stalin or Mio Amore (rebranding is tough y’all) posts his specialty flavors outside, so be ready to order when you step up to the counter. I felt like Stalin was more stingy than the other gelaterias in Vernazza, but his flavors was fresh and creamy. There was a hint of ice, but not quite as much as the gelateria in Riomaggiore.
What I enjoy most about Stalin, however, is there are places to sit outside and watch people go by.
Porticciolo Gelateria in Vernazza
This tiny gelateria off the the Vernazza harbor is home to the elusive and hard-to-find flavor of canella (cinnamon). I’ve found canella gelato exactly twice. Once in Venice in a tiny alley I’ve never found again and here in Veranzza. Get the canella. It’s delicious. (I’m a big fan of trying flavors that are hard to find – like the saffron in Pienza.) Porticciolo is definitely up there for the best gelato in Cinque Terre, but during the shoulder season, it’s hard to catch it open. On three trips, I have found him to be open twice. (I bought and enjoyed gelato both times, too.)
Grab a cup and sit on the harbor. You’ll contemplate how great life is.
2.50 euro, small cone, Gandiolo (chocolate with nuts) and Nocciola (hazelnut) – I conducted two separate taste tests on two separate days before I was willing to admit that Gelateria Vernazza was the top contender for the best gelato in Cinque Terre. The rich chocolate flavor of the gandiolo was the perfect complement to the strong flavor of the nocciola. Neither were overly sweet but both included plenty of nut pieces, which provided a nice texture change against the creamy consistency of the gelato. The generous serving size lasted well into the fresh, brittle cone, and I spent the next day trying to figure out how to get back to Vernazza to enjoy another cone.
The best thing about Gelateria Vernazza though? It’s open later than all the other gelaterias along the main street, so you’ll be able to get your fix when you decide you need another one.
Best Gelato in Cinque Terre – Honorable Mentions
No name gelateria on Via Colombo just past Bar Centrale (Riomaggiore) – 2 euro, small cone, Bacio (chocolate hazelnut) – After finding fantastic focaccia in Riomaggiore, I wanted the gelato to be good, too. Maybe I wanted it to be good because it was 2 euros. Maybe I wanted it to be good because I didn’t trust the other gelato stand. Or, maybe I wanted it to be good because it included plenty of hazelnuts. But, it just wasn’t as good as any of the others. It was a little icy. The cone was of the boxed variety and didn’t taste fresh at all.
Gelateria 5Terre (Manarola) – 2.50 euro, small cone, Canella (cinnamon) and Nocciola (hazelnut) – Oh, I was so excited to see canella. Some 13 years ago, I found canella in a tiny alley in Venice and I’ve found it about three times since that night. It’s one of my favorite flavors. I wanted to love it and tell you it was the best gelato in Cinque Terre. And, the canella was good. The flavor was strong and robust. The nocciola had a rich flavor as well, but it was slightly icy.
The cone was fresh, but the serving was skimpy. Two thirds of my cone did not have any gelato, and that made for a very sad cone.