Sometimes things just don’t live up to the hype surrounding them.
If there’s one thing Florence, Italy, is famous for, it is the Renaissance. If there are two things Florence is famous for, they are the Renaissance and gelato. For those of you who do not know, gelato is similar to ice cream, but generally has less milk fat in it and is churned at a slower rate, making for a denser substance. Less fat often allows for flavors to be a bit more intense, and while ice cream is normally served frozen, gelato is stored at slightly warmer temperatures, so it is not completely frozen when served.
Italy is famous around the world for it’s gelato, and Florence is the gelato capital of Italy, with at least one gelato shop every 100 feet in any given direction. One of the most famous gelato shops in Florence is a place called Grom, which is just south of Florence’s great duomo (cathedral). There are actually several Grom shops in Italy (and apparently a few outside Italy in places like Paris, NYC and Tokyo), but the one in Florence is the one people talk about. It seems everyone who talks about gelato in Florence mentions this place. Below is a photo of the Grom shop in Florence, and you can even see the line of customers going out the door.
I had heard of Grom prior to my departure by a friend of mine who had visited Italy a few years ago, and he spoke very highly of it. When I got to Florence I overheard some other people talking about Grom at my hostel. Even my guidebook talked up Grom, so my expectations for this place were very high (in retrospect, absurdly high).
But anyone who knows anything knows that high expectations are meant to be shattered. After doing some sightseeing at the duomo, I went over to Grom, got in line and bought some gelato. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, in fact it was very good, but it was not the world-exploding, record-setting, be-all end-all experience that everyone had made it out to be. It was just good gelato. There actually was one thing that I did not like, however, which was the size of the scoops they gave out. For the money I paid, I felt I should have gotten another half to full scoop, or maybe just larger scoops than what I got. From this experience, I came up with the term “grom scoops” to refer to anything I thought was smaller or less substantial than it should be.
My disappointment with Grom was a result the hype surrounding it, which had reached obscene proportions. The only way I would have walked away 100% satisfied was if the gelato there was in a league all of it’s own. Again, Grom is really good, but it is not so far ahead of everything else to warrant the hysteria around it (and it’s scoops are too small, grrrrrr). If you’re in Florence, I would recommend giving Grom a try, but temper your expectations. Actually, maybe the better thing to do would be to have low expectations, so that you’ll instead be pleasantly surprised by how good the gelato is.