travel : gelato in rome
Pistachio gelato from Cremeria Monteforte
Just like every other wide eyed tourist, I fell head over heels in love with Rome. Its voluptuous food, churches and cobblestone streets, draped in the summertime air, was just hypnotic. And even though I didn’t hurl a coin into the Trevi fountain (not allowed anymore, turns out coins are bad for carvings) I know that one day, some day, I’ll be back for another melting scoop of gelato.
I like how Italians embrace life – they have their sweets before dinner. What we think of as dessert is often eaten during the daily evening walk called the passeggiata. In the fading twilight, Via del Corso fills with couples on their nightly stroll – holding hands, window shopping and having a chat with gelato in hand. (Doesn’t that just sound so romantic?)
During the later half of July, head towards Trastevere. During the Festa di Noantri the banks of the river are lined with colourful tents and eateries. As the sun sets beyond the Vatican, it’s a stunning view to behold.
Late July on the Tiber River – the Vatican in the distance.
So in this eternal city, how do we find the best gelato?
It’s pretty easy – look for gelato in metal tubs. Gelato can’t be easily transported in metal tubs, so if it’s in one, it’s made out the back and chances are the person serving you is the person who made it.
Also, (when in Rome…) do as locals do and look for gelato that has little, to no colouring. i.e. banana gelato should be grey. Don’t forget to pay for your gelato first (by cup, coppa, or cone, cono) and then present the docket at the counter to pick the flavours.
Lastly, order your gelato ‘col panna’ to top your scoop with whipped cream.
San Crispino will finish off a visit to the Trevi Fountain very nicely. Pale coloured gelato is scooped from small metal tubs with infamously lacklustre service (though the dude behind the counter seemed nice enough). It’s expensive but worth it. The gelato is true to flavour and sublime. We took two scoops and ran away to the nearest corner and shovelled the gelato into our mouths and considered getting seconds. I can see why it’s legendary, but you haven’t tasted legendary until you’ve had Bologna gelato. That’s post for another day.
Via della Panetteria, 42 00187 Rome, Italy
San Crispino’s yummy gelato.
This place is so close to the Pantheon, if you don’t try it while you are in the vicinity I would, if I could, slap you through the screen. Look for people sitting on the right wall of the Pantheon, licking ice creams and follow suit. Cremeria Monteforte seems to be popular with Americans (this time are on to a good thing).
(Though, an American family next to us could not tell the difference between gelato and sorbet…)
Via della Rotonda 22
Tue – Sun 10am – 11pm . Closed mid Dec-Jan
The Pantheon during high summer (so so many tourists!).
Seriously interesting flavours, with lots of chocolate options. Apparently the Kentucky flavour – tobacco, cinnamon and dark chocolate are the bee’s knees.
Near the Sistine Chapel
Via Giovanni Bettolo 7 or Via di Lago di Lesina 9/11
Otherwise known as Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi. (Try to say that three times fast.) Fassi is the oldest gelateria in the city (it’s at least 130 years old!) and it’s still owned by the founding family. Housed in an old ice factory, the atmosphere is old world Roman – locals flock here on Wednesdays for half price ice creams that are made at the back of the shop. The classic flavours are the way to go – pistachio, hazelnut and the like. Ask for doppia panna: whipped cream twice, at the bottom and top of the cup!
Via Principe Eugenio, 65
A summer carnival’s vintage carousel, not far from the Vatican.
Giolitti is another oldie but goodie. Their ice cream may not be the mostest (it’s still especially good compared to Perth’s), it’s fun and family friendly with 70 flavours of gelato. If you really want to pay more for the privilege of sitting down, order the Olympic which is zabaione (light whipped custard), turrone (nougat) and chocolate sitting on top of sponge soaked in Alchermes, a vermilion liqueur.
Via Uffici del Vicario 40
Open every day of the year, from 7am to 2am
Gelateria al Teatro
Comes with high recommendations and the only good gelato in the vicinity of Piazza Navona. Gelateria al Teatro is off Via Coronari – if you walk through Piazza Navona and towards Castel San Angelo, you will encounter their truly artiginale (artisanal) gelato. Specialising in pure, unadulterated flavours, adventurous eaters should look out for flavours like sage and raspberry…
Near Piazza Navona, off Via dei Coronari
Via San Simeone 70
Every day from 11am to midnight (1am on weekends)
For an extensive list on the best gelato in Rome, see this fantastic Tripadvisor page.
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