See, you having had gelato in Italy I can understand. Because I have no problem with saying something about gelato being better when it means that you had ice cream in Italy and you thought it was better than what is known as ice cream here. Europe just tends to have higher standards when it comes to things like ice cream (and yogurt, if you look at France). No high fructose corn syrup, for one.
But good ice cream is just good ice cream. And gelato is ice cream, good or bad. Calling it gelato here in the US is just a way to snazz up ice cream, because people go "ooh, gelato!"
The southern areas of Italy tend to use starch instead of eggs in their gelato because it's supposed to be more digestible in the hotter climes (so, they're somewhere between a Philadelphia style ice cream and a custard base). But gelato can be a custard-based ice cream as well. Alice Medrich actually wrote about how certain popular places in Italy disappointed her because their ice cream was too rich, and lacked clarity of flavor. So that's just it, it's just ice cream, there's no standard "gelato" formula.