If you’ve ever had the good fortune to travel to Florence, Italy, chances are you’re familiar with Vivoli Gelateria. I’ve never been myself, but when I searched “Florence Must-Dos” online, Vivoli appeared on every list; wedged between art galleries and chapels, it was the only food venue mentioned in National Geographic’s City Guide to Florence, so you know it must be pretty spectacular!
No immediate plans to visit Italy? No worries. The family-run gelato shop will open its second storefront – and the first outside of Italy – later this month at The Landing, the newest neighborhood to debut as part of the future Disney Springs.
I recently had the chance to connect with Silvana Vivoli, the granddaughter of Raphael Vivoli, one of the company’s founders, to learn more about the gelateria. Founded in 1932 by Raphael and his two brothers, Vivoli Gelateria started out as a dairy – at that time, it was not easy to find raw materials such as milk, eggs and sugar and there were no gelato machines and freezers. After World War II, technology enabled the brothers to follow their passion and produce gelato every day – a far cry from the early recipes that relied on barrels filled with ice and snow from the nearby mountains to keep their concoctions frozen.
Silvana’s father, Piero, learned to make gelato from his father. Silvana learned the craft from him, “keeping the same old tradition,” she shared.
When I asked Silvana why they decided to open a location at Downtown Disney, the answer flowed freely, “Good gelato. In a fantastic place. With fun and family and a sunny destination? It’s a nice combination. Like vanilla and chocolate!”
According to Silvana, the gelato at Vivoli is made with fresh, top-quality ingredients using the exact same recipes from the original shop. The artisans plan to use local and seasonal products, with cocoa powder, hazelnut and pistachio imported from Italy. “There are ingredients not easy to buy,” muses Silvana, “these are love and passion … when you fall in love with your job, you have these for free – they’re the final ingredients that make everything so special.”
For a special gelato experience that will give you the “feeling of being in Italy for ten minutes,” make plans to try Vivoli Gelateria during your next visit to Downtown Disney. Not sure which flavor to order? I asked Silvana one final question: which is her favorite? “It depends on how I get up in the morning! But really, I cannot do without rice pudding gelato.”
In addition to their signature gelato, Vivioli Gelateria will also serve traditional Italian panini, biscotti, espresso and tarts. For a mouth-watering look at what you can expect, check out the gallery below.