Ever wondered whether ancient Mesopotamians ate sorbet or pondered the role frozen desserts played in the 16th century? Your curiosity is about to be satisfied, deliciously. From the earliest iced treat recipes to modern gelato artists, the Carpigiani Gelato Museum in Bologna, Italy, offers a comprehensive nod to la dolce vita. It's a fitting tribute to a dessert that came into its own when the Medici family in Florence, Italy, hosted a contest to find the tastiest frozen treat in the 1500s. The icy fruity mixture that won evolved into the milky sweet concoction known as gelato [source: Why Gelato].
The museum is located inside the headquarters of Carpigiani, which manufactures ice cream machines and equipment. The Gelato Museum displays a collection of gelato machines, showcases an interactive tour on the history of gelato, and of course, offers plenty of samples. The adjacent Gelato University offers hands-on lessons in gelato creation. In addition to familiar flavors like cookies and cream and Nutella, don't be surprised if you encounter an original concoction a student dreamt up minutes earlier like figs or drunken cherries [source: Gelato Museum Carpigiani, Long].
Author's Note: 10 Weirdest Museums You Really Should Visit
To say I appreciate museums is an understatement. I've planned vacations around museum locations, made itineraries based on museum hours and, once, I lingered so long in London's National Gallery I thought I might be locked in overnight (not a bad thing, really). I'm also a big fan of the odd, which made learning more about the world's 10 weirdest museums all the more interesting. It's difficult to select a favorite on this list, but the Toilet Seat Museum ranks near the top -- for the authenticity of its owner and the sincerity of his work.
- Falkowitz, Max. "What's the Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream?" July 31, 2012. (Jan. 3, 2014) Serious Eats. http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2012/07/whats-the-difference-between-gelato-and-ice-cream.html
- Gelato Museum Carpigiani. "About." (Jan. 3, 2014) http://gelatomuseum.com/en/about-en/
- Gordon, Sarah. "Introducing the World's Museums..." The Daily Mail. March 31, 2010. (Jan. 3, 2014) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1260360/Top-weird-museums-world.html
- Henderson, Nancy. "Salt and Pepper Shaker Collection." American Profile. Aug. 10, 2011. (Jan. 3, 2014) http://americanprofile.com/articles/salt-and-pepper-shaker-collection/
- International Cryptozoology Museum. "About." (Jan. 3, 2014) http://cryptozoologymuseumstore.tictail.com/about
- Live Science. "Tour the International Cryptozoology Museum." (Jan. 3, 2014) http://www.livescience.com/39933-cryptozoology-museum-bigfoot-photos.html
- Long, Matt. "Spending a Day at the Gelato University and Museum in Bologna." Land Lopers. Jan. 9, 2013. (Jan. 6, 2014) http://landlopers.com/2013/01/09/carpigiani/
- Meguro Parasitological Museum. "About Us." (Jan. 3, 2014) http://www.kiseichu.org/Pages/eaboutus.aspx
- Museum of Bad Art. "About MOBA." (Jan. 3, 2014) http://www.museumofbadart.org/about/index.php
- Museum of Quackery. "Foot Operated Breast Enlarger Pump, 1976." (Jan. 3, 2014) http://www.museumofquackery.com/devices/benlarge.htm
- Museum of Quackery. "Shoe Fitting X-Ray Device." (Jan. 3, 2014) http://www.museumofquackery.com/devices/shoexray.htm
- Mutter Museum. "The Mutter Museum." (Jan. 7, 2014) http://www.collegeofphysicians.org/mutter-museum/
- Obscura, Atlas. "Spice Up Your Dating Life With a 29-Foot Tapeworm." Slate. Oct. 21, 2013. (Jan. 3, 2014) http://www.slate.com/blogs/atlas_obscura/2013/10/21/meguro_parasitological_museum_spice_up_your_dating_life_with_a_29_foot_tapeworm.html
- Roadside America. "Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum." (Jan. 3, 2014) http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/6166
- Roadside America. "Mutter Museum." (Jan. 7, 2014) http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2207
- The Icelandic Phallological Museum. "The Museum." (Jan. 3, 2014) http://phallus.is/en/themuseum.html
- The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum. "The World's Only Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum." (Jan. 3, 2014) http://thesaltandpeppershakermuseum.com/Home.aspx
- Truman, Cheryl. "Kentucky's Vent Haven Museum Holds the Wonders of Ventriloquism." Kentucky. July 7, 2013. (Jan. 3, 2014) http://www.kentucky.com/2013/07/07/2706972/kentuckys-vent-haven-museum-holds.html
- Visit Philly. "Mutter Museum." (Jan. 7, 2014) http://www.visitphilly.com/museums-attractions/philadelphia/mutter-museum/
- Yelp. "Museum of Bad Art." (Jan. 3, 2014) http://www.yelp.com/biz/museum-of-bad-art-somerville
HowStuffWorks visits the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum, in Montgomery, Alabama, to learn more about lynching history.