Gelato Culture​ in​

Naples, Italy

Naples, 2018

This research was undertaken during the week-long annual field trip of the LSE Cities Programme to Naples in Italy. The outcome was to be a 3000-word paper that captures any facet of the local culture and explore it in its social, economic and spatial dimensions. My interest in understanding the ‘ordinary-ness’ in the making and eating of gelato in Naples emerged from the need to post-rationalize the obscene amount of gelato that I enjoyed during my time in the city.


Much like eating handmade Neapolitan pizza for dinner, having a cornetto and a shot of espresso in the morning, eating gelato felt like second nature to being in Naples- almost unworthy of attention, let alone worth academic inquiry. I borrowed from Sociologist Alex Rhys-Taylor’s food ethnographies to develop an attention to the sensations that fill everyday life as an ideal corollary of macro-spatial theory. I used four sensations that, to me, articulated the ordinariness in the urban experience- publicness, denseness, affordability, smallness. I went on to describe these terms spatio-economically and elaborate how they spoke to the Naples experience uniquely.


In this paper, I used snapshots of the making and eating of gelato to demonstrate the importance of handmade food as a signifier of place. I furthered this by attempting to make the important claim to link the food practices with regional and national identity. If you would like to read this paper, or chat with me about my favourite gelato flavours or hacks, you can write to me.

© 2018 by rohan patankar