Mastering the Art of Gelato: Carpigiani Gelato Museum & University

I did it! I’m now officially a rockstar Carpigiani Gelato Ambassador.

Me, a Carpigiani Gelato Ambassador

Me, kicking butt as at the Carpigiani Gelato Shop

How cool is that? Believe me when I tell you that in that uniform, I felt like a total kickass Iron Chef master ready to take on a Bobby Flay challenge anyday. And you know what’s even cooler? You can become a kickass Carpigiani Gelato ambassador too!

That’s the magic of the Carpigiani Gelato Museum. They really bring to life the history and the making of gelato – which is way more than any gelateria can offer you, no matter how tasty their gelato is.

Carpigiani isn’t actually a gelato making company per se. They started out in the industrial equipment business way back in 1946 when two Italian brothers, Bruto and Poerio Carlo Carpigiani, first founded the company. They were the pioneers in making quality gelato machines in Italy. As gelato became more and more popular in Italy during the 1960s and 70s, Carpigiani expanded their production line and even started selling their gelato machines around the world. Today the company sells their machines world-wide. Chances are when you’re eating gelato, you’re eating gelato that came out of a Carpigiani machine! It wasn’t until much later on that the company founded the Gelato University in 2003, and the Gelato Museum in 2012 in Anzola, Italy (a few kilometers outside of Bologna).

Carpigiani Gelato Museum: Reliving the History of Gelato

What I loved about the gelato museum was that I really felt like I was taking a step back in time. I got to churn an ancient gelato-making machine. I read awe-inspiring Renaissance odes dedicated to gelato. I sat on a sweet vintage gelato bicycle cart. I saw with my very own eyes the first machines that were used to make waffle cones. I learned more fun facts about gelato than I even knew existed. It was amazeballs!

Carpigiani Gelato Museum

Gelato History Timeline – yay for visual learners like me!

Basic Gelato Ingredients at the Carpigiani Gelato Museum

Some basic gelato ingredients on display. P.S. Isn’t plastic food just so much fun?

Evolution of the gelato machine. Carpigiani Gelato Museum.

Evolution of the gelato machine (the bottom two are both Carpigiani machines)

Vintage gelato cart at the Carpigiani Gelato Museum

“Gelaaaaato! 1 euro! Come and get it!”

Ode to gelato at the Carpigiani Gelato Museum

Because why not write a poem to gelato?

Bruna, one of the Carpigiani staff, gave me the full tour in impeccable English, recounting the story of gelato as it goes back all the way to the 4th century AD. The museum is awesomely organized into different time periods, starting with a color coded timeline when you first walk in. After that, each section is color coded based on the time period. You can read about the different uses and recipes of gelato throughout history and see for yourself the very first machines. For foodies like myself, it’s a total visual learning paradise. 

Carpigiani Gelato University: Getting Schooled the Cool Way

After getting my history lesson at the museum, the Carpigiani staff (did I mention how incredibly friendly they were?), took me around to the Gelato University where all the action was happening.

Michela explained that this was the second week of this month’s gelato university course, so the students were learning how to mix in their first ingredients.The first week is usually dedicated to learning the basics, like how to make a plain white gelato. In the second week students can start experimenting by adding in simple flavors like pistachio or coconut. They also can experiment with different milks in order to learn how to make things like vegan gelato.

Vegan pistachio rice milk gelato made by Carpigiani Gelato University students

One of the students’ Vegan Pistachio Gelato made with rice milk

In the third week students can get really creative and start playing with chocolate and things like gelato cakes. The last week is dedicated to pure practice and students must complete a 5-day internship either in the nearby Carpigiani gelato shop (just outside of the museum) or at another gelateria of their choice. After graduation, it’s off to the races and students are now ready to open a gelateria. Of course, as Michela explained, to open a gelateria you also need money and some business suave, so it often takes several years before a gelato university graduate can actually open a gelateria.

Gelato Workshops – for you!

Nevertheless you don’t have to enroll in Carpigiani’s 4-week gelato university course to learn how to make gelato. They also offer a workshops where anyone can learn how to make a simple sorbet in less than an hour. Bruna was my instructor. The first half hour of my class was dedicated to learning the differences between gelato, sorbet, and ice cream – a not so easy concept made easier by taste testing of a giant cup of Strawberry Peach Bellini Sorbet and Coffee Gelato while Bruna broke the lesson down for me.

Carpigiani Gelato Workshop

Bruna explaining the difference between gelato and ice cream

Carpigiani Gelato Workshop

Me and Bruna chopping strawberries

Carpigiani Gelato Workshop

Pouring the strawberry sorbet into the Carpigiani wonder machine!

Carpigiani Gelato Ambassador

Graduation photo with my two wonderful Carpigiani teachers Bruna (left) and Michela (right)

After our mini-lesson, Bruna tossed me an apron and kickass ironchef chef coat and we headed into the Carpigiani test kitchen, where Bruna immediately put me to work to slicing and weighing out 1.5 kg of fresh strawberries for my first strawberry sorbet. In less than 20 minutes, we had mixed together the base for our gelato, churned it through the Carpigiani wonder machine and scraped it out into a chilled metal pan. Sorbetto success! I graduated with honors and although I have yet to have success with my own gelato at home, I can now call myself an official Carpigiani Gelato Ambassador. Rockstar. 

Visiting Carpigiani: What You Need to Know Before You Go

How to Get There: The Carpigiani Gelato Museum, University, and Tasting Shop are located in Via Emilia 45, Anzola Italy. If you’re coming from Bologna the quickest way to arrive is by car or taxi. You can also ask the Carpigiani staff to reserve a shuttle for you (25 euro each way). It’s also possible to get there by bus. Take the number 87 bus from the Autostazione towards Anzola Emilia. It takes about 40 minutes each way. You should buy the bus tickets from a local tabaccheria beforehand (1.20 euro each way) and be sure to validate your ticket once you’re on the bus. 

Planning Your Visit:  To visit the museum and university, a reservation is required, so be sure to book early! You can also go beyond the museum tour and book a workshop or tasting. Tours are offered in both English and Italian. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm so be sure to plan accordingly. 

You don’t have to make a reservation to visit the gelato shop, which is open from Tuesday – Sunday.

4 comments on “Mastering the Art of Gelato: Carpigiani Gelato Museum & University

  1. Thanks for this article! Planning to take the 2 weeks course in mid-Oct. How is the weather like during that time? I’ll be sure to try all the gelato Bologna has to offer…and eat the meaty pasta and other Bolognese carbs. I travel for food! LOL.

    How are the hours of the tourist attractions (i.e. Piazza Maggiore, etc.)? The class is finished at 5:30 pm everyday so I’m wondering if I can explore the city after class… and is it considered safe at night? It’s going to be my first solo trip. I’m so excited but a bit scared! haha.

    Do you have any good cheap eats recommendations? Thanks so much! :)

    • Hi Nikki, That’s so awesome that you’re taking a course at the university! I just had a brief one hour workshop, but seeing the univeristy in action was amazing.

      The weather in Bologna in October is cool. It’s not too cold but you’ll definitely want to have a jacket and extra layers. Of course, who knows as the weather has been really odd the past two years so just prepare for anything!

      As far as the tourist attractions go, there are lots of things to see. Piazza Maggiore is always open – it’s the main square in the city so it’s impossible that won’t be able to see it. Other things like Climbing the Asinelli Tower or visiting museums might close about 6pm or 7pm, although if you have time at the weekend you should be able to see lots of stuff.

      Bologna is generally safe, but you do have to be careful in certain areas. If you’re staying in the city center you should be okay, just be sure to stay on the main roads. Just be smart and you’ll be okay.

      Cheap eats – Trattoria Rosso, Osteria dell’Orsa, Trattoria Tony, Pasta Fresca Naldi :)