During the mid 1500s Cosimo I de’ Medici, elegant Lord of Tuscany, designated Bernardo Buontalenti to organise special festivities which could astonish a delegation of the King of Spain and persuade them to support Cosimo’s intention to incorporate Siena in the dukedom. Bernardo Buontalenti, architect and creative genius, directed shows and firework displays and set up a program of festivities like never before. He arranged sumptuous banquets, at the end of which he served a frozen cream to which he had added a very precious spice that came from the newly discovered Americas: sugar.
Needless to say, the Spanish delegation was enthusiastic with great satisfaction of the Grand Duke, who had to hire many cooks who could continuously prepare the gelato. However, it was thanks to Caterina de’ Medici, then Queen of France, that gelato spread across Europe during the second half of the century. The Queen had summoned Florentine pastry chefs who had learned that art and she always served gelato to her guests, rulers and diplomats, who then returned to their homelands with the recipe.