Perché No’s unique history goes back to being a traditional dairy store since 1939. Up until the war they were locally known for ice cream and whipped cream. They made it through wartime rationing, by creatively using what limited ingredients they had, including egg whites and apple puree, to mimic the tastes and flavors of their frozen treats. By the end of the war they had a devoted local following.
Extensive restoration has allowed this narrow storefront to maintain much of its historical character and charm. The floors and walls are clad with rich layers of marble and onyx. A signature clock, made by a master of mosaics still adorns one of the walls. And thankfully, the ice cream is still made with milk, cream and eggs; no hydrogenated fats, artificial colorings, preservatives or emulsifiers. The quality shows.
It is worth a visit for the Fior di Latte con Miele e Sesame alone. It might not sound like much, but the flavor is inspired. Slightly bitter chestnut honey and crisp sesame wafers offset the delicate sweetness of the purest, most pristine milk you could imagine. If only milk always tasted like this.
That same purity of flavor is integral to their signature semifreddi, which have light and fluffy whipped cream at their core. This works wonderfully in some instances, like the candied chestnut, which essentially becomes a Monte Bianco in semi-frozen form; but doesn’t succeed as well in others where the whipped cream dominates the main ingredient.
There is no excuse for eating an industrial ice cream in the crowded streets between the Duomo and Piazza Signoria or Ponte Vecchio; when you have the history and pure flavors of Perché No! why not try it!
Get It!: Fior di Latte con Semi di Sesame e Miele (milk with honey and sesame seed)
Signature Flavors: Semifreddos
When in Season: Cachi (Persimmon); Marron Glacée Semifreddo (Candied Chestnut)
Via dei Tavolini, 19R, Florence. www.percheno.firenze.it; tel: 055 2398969. Closed Tuesday.