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How I Flunked Out of Gelato University

In which I prove that too much gelato is in fact a bad thing… (I was shocked too).

When the Emilia-Romagna Tourism folks invited us to spend a day at Gelato University I was, as you can imagine, beside myself. I had no idea what Gelato University actually was but I knew if it involved gelato I was fully on board.

Bright and early Wednesday morning we took a local bus to the outskirts of Bologna and the Carpigiani factory. As one of the leading makers of gelato machinery in the world, the company brilliantly started the Gelato University as a way to train potential customers in the making of gelato and the use of their equipment. They offer a variety of 2-3 week courses at different levels of difficulty. Lucky for us we were sitting in on the beginner course.

It turns out, not that surprisingly I guess, that making gelato is hard. We sat in the back of the classroom watching the teacher (a local gelato shop artisan) lecture on the science behind gelato making. I wondered when we would get to taste some of the good stuff and tried to pay attention while the students around me took vigorous notes.

So who goes to Gelato University? It turns out all sorts of people. As we sampled yesterdays creations (pistachio, dark chocolate, lemon cream), I chatted with some of the students. Among them: A couple from the Philippines researching how to start their own shop (gelato is very popular in the Philippines apparently), two chefs from Norway, a world traveler from Colombia on a career break, a young guy from Dubai who just wanted to learn a new skill and a Lebanese woman considering a career change. Everyone was chipper and eager to learn despite the surprising volume of math involved.

Bathroom signs

During the lunch break a representative from the company showed us around the Gelato museum, which is dedicated to the history of gelato and gelato-making from the early hand cranks to the modern machines produced by Carpigiani. We also stopped by the cafe and gelato testing center, where top Gelato chefs were experimenting with new flavors.

You know what that means. Sample time:

By now I was feeling pretty full from the 5 or 6 different cups of gelato I had already had. But we couldn’t quite yet: the afternoon session of Gelato U was the kitchen session.

The class split up into groups of 3 or 4 and each received a recipe. Today’s focus was on straciatella- cream flavored gelato with chunks of chocolate mixed in, which just so happens to be my very favorite flavor. The kitchen was a flurry of rushing students, mixing bowls, whirring machines and quiet debates on the best way to mix chocolate. I was so impressed- these people had only been in class for three days and they already basically knew how to make gelato.

It tasted pretty great too. The students lined up about a dozen different finished straciatellas for tasting. After the fourth or fifth one though, I started to feel a bit woozy. My head was pounding- too much sugar maybe? And my stomach felt…weird. “I think I might have overdone it,” I whispered to Mike. He nodded weakly a grimace on his face. The students still had another couple of hours of lecturing ahead of them but we decided our time at Gelato university was over.

After a nauseous bus ride back to central bologna we collapsed on our giant bed and fell into some sort of ice cream coma, only to be awoken several hours later by my friend calling to take us to dinner. Damn our lack of self control.

How do the students at gelato university maintain the self-control to not gorge themselves to death? How do gelato shop OWNERS manage it? I have no idea but I know now I could never be one.

So yes, I do love gelato, but I think I’m content to enjoy it as an amateur-not a professional!

We visited Bologna as guests of the Emilia-Romagna Tourism Board. All gluttinous opinions are my own.

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23 Responses to How I Flunked Out of Gelato University

  1. Chris May 7, 2013 at 12:54 PM #

    I don’t think I’d do much better. I’ve got an incredibly sweet tooth and seem to be gorging on ice cream, crepes and banana/chocolate rotis non-stop since living in Thailand. Addicted.

  2. Carmel May 7, 2013 at 1:32 PM #

    Ok, I can see how that much sugar would make for a painful ending…but still. They need to hook an IV of water up to you while you do all that tasting!

  3. Sarah P | The Travel Spotlight May 7, 2013 at 3:00 PM #

    Oh my Steph, I would have definitely gained so much weight if I enrolled in Gelato University! Even without a “structured curriculum” I managed to inhale 4 scoops a day ON TOP of 3 meals!

    That being said, I agree with you – it seems like far too much work to learn how to make gelato! I’m content to sit & enjoy it in the Italian sunshine!

  4. Thomas Dembie May 7, 2013 at 3:58 PM #

    I had no idea such a place existed! Though I love gelato as well, I can see how this could be a negative. Thanks for the great post! Less than 2 months until I’m back in Italy to taste more wonderful gelato!

  5. Rika | Cubicle Throwdown May 7, 2013 at 7:44 PM #

    I worked at a gelateria where the owner had gone to that gelato university!! Let me tell you something… after one or two (MAYBE three) times of overdoing gelato, you gain some self control. Been there, done that, never again! I managed to work there for 8 months without overdosing. It’s possible 🙂

  6. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 7, 2013 at 10:35 PM #

    Overindulgent sugar comas aside, this sounds really amazing! I love cooking and math (nerd alert!), so this actually sounds like something I’d have a lot of fun with… Although I am pretty sure I’d succumb to too many tastings as you did! For me, I’d be unable to resist the pistachio samplings!

  7. Emily May 8, 2013 at 4:10 AM #

    Wow – what an experience! Just looking at the pictures makes me crave gelato! Bummer you had to leave early, but I can definitely understand how the sugar coma would come on strongly after all that deliciousness.

    • Carpigiani1946 (@Carpigiani1946) June 19, 2013 at 5:44 AM #

      Dear Emily don’t worry about sugars, there are sorbettos too! And they are made with just fruits, ice and a bit of sugar! Perfectly healthy! 😉

  8. katie May 8, 2013 at 6:14 AM #

    That looked like so much fun. Next time i’m in Italy I think i’ll trip on up to Bologna and try my hand at learning how to make Gelato. How long are the courses???

  9. Nicole @ Suitcase Stories May 10, 2013 at 11:53 AM #

    Yum chocolate gelato is my favorite. What fun! We are heading to Italy in September – I think I might look into it for a bit of fun.

  10. Megan May 13, 2013 at 2:37 AM #

    Despite your cautionary tale…all I want to do is inhale all of that gelato. Right now. Lack of self control is a real problem 😉

  11. Christine |GRRRL TRAVELER May 13, 2013 at 10:39 AM #

    What a cool experience! I had no idea the Italians took gelato making to a university level. Crazy! Do they have anything shorter than 2 weeks. Wouldn’t mind sitting in a workshop out of curiosity.

    • Carpigiani1946 (@Carpigiani1946) June 19, 2013 at 5:36 AM #

      Hi Christine! Yep, we have also a one week course, that is the one that teaches you the basics! You can find all the information you need at http://www.gelatouniversity.com. See u!

  12. Carpigiani1946 (@Carpigiani1946) June 19, 2013 at 5:58 AM #

    Hello Steph! Thanks for your article, it’s really funny! 😀 I’m sorry for your “overdose” but, ye, sometimes it happens here! It’s just cause you have only one day and you wanted to try as much as possible, believe me! After a week of working here the self control would come up! See u soon and good luck for your next trips!

  13. Jude January 14, 2015 at 8:37 AM #

    I was searching for schools in Italy for training to learn making gelato, and was excited finding this school online, unfortunately, I’ve been calling the school contact phone number, and there’s no response at all. I live in New York. Any help please?

  14. stefano June 10, 2016 at 3:26 AM #

    Great !!!
    I’m italian and I think that italian gelato is the best around the world, so good that we have an University !!!

  15. Sunny July 6, 2016 at 3:35 PM #

    I make plan go to Gelato university in bologna, italia for learning how to make gelato but i just consider about accommodation. Is there any room(accommodation) at Gelato university. So i can learn also live there. Do u have any information about that??how much per day/night?
    Thanks so much

    • Steph July 6, 2016 at 5:01 PM #

      Hi Sunny, I suggest contacting them directly for more information.

  16. Jaliah July 25, 2016 at 7:17 PM #

    I know this is old post but where did stay when you attended?

    • Steph July 26, 2016 at 12:22 AM #

      We stayed in Bologna and took a public bus to the university. Unfortunately I no longer remember where.

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