I love ice cream. I love ice cream cones. I love the balance between the coolness of the ice cream and the crunchiness of the cone. When traveling in Italy, I love gelato even more. There’s something about grabbing a schmear of gelato and walking gingerly on a passeggiata around an Italian town. So, imagine how excited I was to learn that I could attend Gelato University!
Now, a full course at Gelato University, run by Carpigiani in Emilia Romagna, is a pretty intense affair. It can run up to four weeks and cost thousands of dollars. It is the type of program perfect for someone who is looking to open their own gelato shop somewhere in the world.
Our version of Gelato University took about an hour. That’s okay – it fit better into my schedule.
Visiting Carpigiani and Gelato University
Carpigiani is one of the main manufacturers of ice cream machines. It’s also one of the oldest. Their headquarters is located on Via Emilia, the food and wine route running through Emilia Romagna. I was excited just walking in. They had ice cream cone art all over the walls, and even on the doors to the bathrooms.
Carpigiani also operates a gelato museum in this building. The museum includes information on the history of ice cream and shows off some historic gelato related memorabilia.
I am not a big fan of museums, but tend to make an exception when they are food or wine themed museums. I also make exceptions for museums where there is a tasting at the end, like the Salumi Museum we visited on our Discover Ferrari tour. In this case, the museum tour came not only with a tasting, but a schooling on how to make gelato.
When we stopped by Carpigiani, I was full from days of eating during our four day Italian culinary tourism romp through Emilia Romagna. But, somehow, I managed to sit and listen to all of the explanations about gelato, and why it is different from ice cream and sorbet. Then, I got my hands dirty.
Earning My Degree from Gelato University
After learning about gelato and the ingredients used to make it, we got down to business.
I volunteered to learn how to make gelato. Granted, the mix was pre-made for me. My fellow students stood behind me and hand mixed their gelato using ice to cool the liquid.
I volunteered for the easier task. All I had to do was rubber glove up and get to work.
I filled the machine with the gelato mix, making sure I didn’t leave a drop behind. I watched it churn inside the machine.
After ten minutes or so, the machine not only told me the gelato was ready, but informed me that my gelato was, indeed, excellent.
Now came the hard part. While my fellow students were still hoping and wishing that their manual gelato making would result in actual gelato, my machine was ready to spit out the final product.
Artisan gelato though, is all about presentation. It’s important to make the gelato look all fancy in the case, to encourage people to buy it.
So, my decorative gelato display skills were far from perfect. The machine just kept spitting out more and more gelato. I could barely keep up. I felt like Lucy at the candy factory.
I managed to fill an entire display pan. In the end, it all tasted the same, regardless of the display.
Graduating from Gelato University
Okay, so I said the best part was learning how to make gelato. But, I kind of lied. The best part of attending Gelato University was actually getting to taste the gelato. As much as I wanted. Suddenly, the fullness I felt after days of heavy eating dissipated, as I tried one flavor after another, including the batch that I slaved over.
I did, in fact, “graduate” from Gelato University. I have a diploma and everything. But, much like kids sports these days, where everyone earns a participation trophy, that’s really all I received. If I really wanted to open my own shop, I would be useless. That’s okay. I’m better equipped to eat the gelato, more than making it. I’ll leave that up to the experts and the real graduates from Gelato University.
Planning a Trip to Emilia Romagna?
Looking for more travel tips on Emilia Romagna, and how to eat the best food in Italy? My book The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna: How to taste the history and tradition of Italy, is available on Amazon now. If you are a NOOK reader, it is also available for download on Barnes and Noble.
Carpigiani Gelato University and Gelato Museum
Carpigiani is located outside of Bologna in Anzola dell’Emilia. The Gelato Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 9am – 6pm. Reservations are required and you can book here. It’s also possible to book a Discovering Gelato tour, which takes less than two hours and includes the type of hands on demonstration we took part in. These experiences cost €20. A more thorough Gelato Masterclass costs €45 and lasts over three hours. Then, there is the full blown Gelato University for the wannabe gelato professionals!
More About Our Trip
We were hosted by the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board during our #ViaEmilia experience. As always, all of my opinions are my own.
For more on Italian culinary tourism, check out our Emilia Romagna Food Travel Guide, which is continuously updated with information on how to eat well in Italy.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.