Recipe: Paciugo Gelato

Words by Belmond Editors

Recipe: Paciugo Gelato

Welcome to Gelateria San Giorgio, the legendary dessert destination reopening its doors in the heart of the Portofino Piazzetta. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of this institution, discover the recipe of their most iconic item on the menu, the paciugo gelato.

Often in food and life, the best things initially feel like a mess. Paciugo translates loosely to mean ‘mess’ in Italian and it is this gelato-based dessert that has come to define Portofino and was originally invented by a local café owner Lina Repetto at Caffè Excelsior in Portofino’s Pizzetta back in 1941. It’s a sundae of sorts with layers of gelato, soft whipped cream, summer berries and sour Amarena cherries that takes just minutes to make.

It is the sort of dessert that people travel to Portofino just to taste and is always on the menu at Splendido Mare’s iconic Gelateria San Giorgio. Serve it family-style in one large bowl at the table, or in individual glasses for guests. It’s la dolce vita in a dish and best paired with a final sip of limoncello.


  • 200 g fresh strawberries
  • 200 g fresh cherries
  • 300 g jar Amarena cherries
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 200 ml fresh double cream
  • 1.5 tsp icing sugar
  • 800 ml vanilla or fior di latte gelato


Step 1 / 3

Take off the stems from the strawberries and slice the fruit in quarters. Remove the stems and pits from the fresh cherries before slicing them in half. Add them to a bowl with half the jar of Amerena cherries including the syrup and lemon juice. Let the fruit marinate for a few hours until it softens slightly.

Step 2 / 3

Place the platter or glasses that you want to serve the Paciugo in into the fridge to chill for an hour or so ahead of time. When you’re ready to serve it, lightly whip the double cream and icing sugar with an electric whisk in a large mixing bowl until soft peaks form.

Step 3 / 3

Once this is ready, remove the gelato from the freezer so it’s easier to scoop. Remove the glasses or bowl from the fridge and add generous spoonfuls of the fruit to the bottom before layering it with scoops of gelato and whipped cream. Finish the Paciugo with the rest of the Amarena cherries and their syrup.

Buon appetito!

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