Arts & Culture

Episode 8: The Story of Gelato Boy from Manfredonia

Episode 8: A Protective Andrew in Manfredonia

When I lived in Firenze studying Art History, I had my “Lizzie Mcguire” moment that all American girls secretly dream about. My friends and I decided to check out the Gelato Festival, which was taking place in Piazza Michelangelo. You pay a flat fee (I think it was twenty euros) and you get to try gelatos from different makers all over Italy. Then you vote for your favorite and whoever has the most votes wins the festival.

Well, it just so happened that as my friends and I were making the rounds to the different stands, one of the gelato makers caught my eye. We grabbed gelato from him and then walked away, but I wouldn’t stop talking to my friends about him. My roommate Ceilidh encouraged me to give him my number before we left. I was so incredibly shy and terrified of dating so I made Ceilidh write the note for me on a torn-off piece of the Gelato voting sheet. I waited in his line again and practically threw the paper at him and said “this is for you” and then I took off. When I got back to Ceilidh I turned around and his coworkers were translating for him (he didn’t speak any English) as he was smiling and waving at me.

Turns out Gelato Boy (as my friends would call him) lived all the way in Manfredonia, which is not an easy trip from Florence by any means. Nevertheless, we kept in contact.



After months of talking back and forth with Gelato Boy. Losing contact for a little, but then picking back up again, I told Andrew that I would always wonder about him if I didn’t go see him. So during my Spring break, Andrew and I flew into Rome after our trip to Austria, rented a car, and drove four hours to Manfredonia.

Here I thought we would pull up to a beautiful, small city on the water, and I would spend my days exploring with Gelato Boy. That was not the case. Andrew and I arrived in a dirty, small, and very poor city. Nothing really to do or see and to my dismay Gelato Boy was only able to see me at night and not at all during the day.

On our first date night there he picked me up from our small hotel and drove me over to the pier. Andrew had been slightly worried and so before I left I shared my location with him so he could check in from time to time. Well, I didn’t realize that walking out onto this pier with Gelato Boy would make my phone think I’m drowning in the ocean. Next thing I know Andrew is texting me asking me if I had gotten launched into the water. Oops.

The next day Andrew and I decided to try and check out the city a bit. We wandered over to Gelato Boy’s shop, and it wasn’t even open which was odd because he was supposed to be the best gelato maker in town, but a shop down the street had a line around the block and better yet, was actually open. Andrew and I came up with some interesting Mafia theories about all that (yes, the Mafia is very real)…

Anyway, Andrew and I mainly spent the days sitting around at cafes and I would go out at night with Gelato Boy. At the end of the trip Gelato Boy and I realized that even though we cared a lot for each other, I was never going to move to Manfredonia, and he was never going to leave his family’s shop.

I’m so grateful for that experience and that Andrew was rooting for me enough to come down with me. Even though I do not recommend going to Manfredonia, and I will definitely never go there again, I still look back on that trip with fondness.


Click here to listen to the podcast episode.


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