What is Spumoni?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Spumoni is a special Italian dessert made of layers of ice cream, whipped cream, candied fruit, and nuts. In Italy, it's spelled spumone, but pronounced exactly as it is pronounced in English, with an accent on the last vowel. Each layer of the dessert contains different flavors and ingredients. In traditional dessert kitchens, it's often made of three layers of flavor: chocolate, pistachio, and cherry.

Neapolitan ice cream was originally created in Naples,Italy.
Neapolitan ice cream was originally created in Naples,Italy.

Each layer of spumoni ice cream includes much more than flavored ice cream. The chocolate layer, for example, may include chocolate shavings or chunks. In fact, this layer may have crushed hazelnuts inside as well, which not only adds a lovely flavor to the chocolate, but it also complements the pistachio layer. That layer, of course, almost always includes crushed pistachio nuts. The fruit layer is usually made with candied fruit. Sometimes, spumoni is made with strawberry or even raspberry flavored ice cream, but cherry is the most traditional fruit component.

Spumoni often includes chocolate chips or shavings.
Spumoni often includes chocolate chips or shavings.

The layers are designed to offer a lovely combination of flavors. Connoisseurs often have special ways that they like to enjoy the dessert, such as enjoying each layer at a time or making sure to get a bit of each in every bite.

Cherry is traditionally used in spumoni.
Cherry is traditionally used in spumoni.

Spumoni ice cream, much like many other famous and beloved foods, has yielded an entire breed of dishes. There are a number of layered ice cream treats that were probably inspired by it. Some people believe that the banana split may be related to it. After all, two of the most common ice cream flavors in banana splits are strawberry and chocolate. Furthermore, splits are often topped with nuts and whipped cream.

Neapolitan ice cream appears to be a direct descendant of spumoni, which was originally created in Naples, Italy. This flavor is simply layers of chocolate, berry, and vanilla ice cream, packaged and served with no barrier between the flavors. Much like spumoni fans, Neapolitan ice cream lovers each have their own way of enjoying the dessert.

Spumoni ice cream is still enjoyed in Italy today, and Italian immigrants to the United States and Argentina have popularized the dessert there as well. It can be found year round in the United States, but it is prized by some Americans as a winter dessert. The dessert is often paired with butter cookies after holiday meals.

Spumoni incorporates both fruit and nuts.
Spumoni incorporates both fruit and nuts.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


Here's a great way to enjoy Spumoni ice cream. Start with a slice of pound cake in the bottom of the ice cream bowl, then add your scoop or two of ice cream. Then top it off by pouring about two ounces of red wine over the top of the whole concoction. Let it sit for a minute or two so that the red wine seeps into the pound cake and the ice cream - then enjoy!


I love Spumoni ice cream. However, we just returned a few days ago from our 4th trip to Italy (visiting from northern tip to Sicily) and have never seen Spumoni. We have asked Tour Guides and others in Italy and they all say, "Que Cosa" (What is it?). Also, never seen a Gelato in Italy anywhere close to the ingredients of American Gelato.


The spumoni I had in Verona was three layers. Pistachio, vanilla and cherry so it looked like an Italian flag. Green, white and red.


Spumoni was popular in Italy when I was a child. I used to get it at a gelateria in Verona in the 60s.


I just got back from Italy and couldn't find spumoni anywhere! I asked our Italian tour guide and his answer was, "What is that?" When I told him, he said he's lived it Italy all his life and has never heard nor seen spumoni anywhere. He also said that pepperoni and fettuccine alfredo are not Italian either.


We always had spumoni with birthday cakes growing up and I'm not even of Italian heritage. I hated it then but love it now.


just got some spumoni. talk about gross!


Spumoni is awesome. Apparently it comes from italy.


The worlds best spumoni comes from L&B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn, NY. I recently had some in Pheonix, Az at Thomassos Italian Restaurant. Theirs was very good. Elio The Doowopman


"Spumoni ice cream was originally created in Naples, Italy"

Another false - spumone is originally from Salento.


"Where does the word spumoni come from? What does it mean?"

"Spuma" means "foam". Spumone is an augmentative form of the word("big foam" or "great foam")


"In Italy, spumoni is spelled spumone, but pronounced exactly as it is pronounced in English"

Not true. The -e ending is pronounce like "e" in "let" or "Belgium", it is not pronounced "spumoni" (that is a plural of spumone).


Just won a bet. Spumoni *is* Italian. Not found in Tuscany he says. I said Italian period. Sure is a great treat after an Italian meal.


I am sitting here eating Spumoni right now for the very first time and I am loving it!! Yummy, yummy!


i just had some my mom bought it at the store, so that was probably why but it was the nastiest ice cream i have ever tasted! eww eww eww! only the chocolate was good. i hated the pistacho and the cherry!


We are delighted to finally get to know about spumoni since we have enjoyed it every now and then at Maggiano's in Dallas, TX. We tried to get spumoni in Germany but utterly failed. So far. Who knows a place in Germany where spumoni is served? We'd appreciate any helpful hint.


Where does the word spumoni come from? What does it mean?


But I was wondering if Spumoni is usually made of goat's milk? Does anyone know?


Apparently spumoni is not as popular in Italy as it used to be. It seems that in places outside of Italy with large Italian population spumoni is still very popular.

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