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It’s spring in Rome. What a wonderful time to be alive (despite being covered in pollen). Quite a few people eat gelato year round. I will occasionally have some during the winter but for me spring is the beginning of Gelato Season. Summers are so hot here I don’t want to leave my house, even for gelato. Now is the time to visit my favorite spots.
For travelers going to Rome for the first time, you will notice that there are many gelato chains. Most of them are awful. Stay away from any place that sells gelato with colors not found in nature. A good tip; look at the pistachio gelato. If it’s Kermit the Frog green walk away. The color of real pistachio gelato is more of a light green to a brownish green depending on how it’s made. It’s also expensive as the raw materials are not cheap. No way all these chains could afford to make quality pistachio gelato. I do like the chain Gelateria La Romana (based in Rimini, founded in 1947). Their croccante all’amarena/black cherry with cookie crumbles and the original recipe simple crema/cream flavors are outstanding.
Located north of Prati’s Piazza Mazzini in a residential neighborhood on a small side street, this shop is worth the schlep. The sour cherry sorbet is beyond. I’ve read some reviews stating it’s close to the Vatican. It’s on the same side of the river but it’s not close. Not much English is spoken at Al Settimo Gelo compared to the gelato shops in the Historic Center but the language of gelato is not hard to understand.
Via Vodice, 21/A – 00195 (Prati)
Fatamorgana originally opened in Prati (hmmm, why are so many of the best gelato shops in Prati?) There’s now one in Monti and a few other locations in the city. They’re known for their very inventive flavors like Kentucky Chocolate (chocolate and tobacco) and their variety of seasonal flavors. My favorites are blueberry cheesecake, red grapefruit, and the mango. Their prices are slightly higher but worth it for the quality.
Via Leone IV, 50 – 00192 (Prati)
I “discovered” this tiny shop the year I visited Rome and rented an apartment in Trastevere for two weeks. Their gelato is made in small batches, using natural ingredients, and very seasonable. Their Strawberry, (available late spring early summer) was/is incredible.
Via della Lungaretta, 96 – 00153 (Trastevere)
The original location is in Prati, not far from the Vatican. There’s a smaller branch close to Piazza del Popolo and one in Parioli on Viale Regina Margherita. If their apple and cinnamon gelato is in season (and you’re a fan of those flavors) it’s a must. Also on my list, the ricotta and pear; the honey, and the lemon. I’m not a big chocolate gelato person but my friends who love it, tell me they really like the flavors at Gracchi.
Via dei Gracchi, 272 – 00193 (Prati)
Another one of my favorite gelato shops when I lived on Via del Pellegrino in the Historic Center. They’re known for their rosemary and lemon, raspberry and sage, and the one I used to get all the time, lavender and white peach. You can see gelato being made through the window on Via Coronari. There’s also a smaller branch on Via Lungotevere del Vallati, 25.
Via dei Coronari, 65/66 – 00186 (Historic Center)
Il Gelato di Claudio Torcè
The Viale Aventino shop is near Circo Massimo and the original was founded in EUR. Torcè is big hit with chocolate fans as they have ten-twelve different chocolate flavors depending on what’s in season. As usual, I’m drawn to the fruit flavors, like lemon or strawberry. I also love the rice and cinnamon. One of their most famous flavors is the gorgonzola gelato. I’ve tried it and it was very unique. A friend, who is a lover of gorgonzola cheese, thought it was excellent. Interesting fact, Torcè was a mentor to the founder of Fatamorgana, Maria Agnese Spagnuolo and other top gelato makers in Italy.
Viale Aventino, 59 – 00153 (Aventino)
I had to include this neighhorhood spot on my list. This Sicilian shop is located outside the Historic Center in the residential area of Parioli. If you find yourself on this side of town, I recommend it. The granitas are excellent. I’m all about the lemon granita and their mulberry and fig granitas are very popular. It’s also a great spot for Sicilian desserts like cannoli.
Viale dei Parioli, 35 – 00197 (Parioli)
What’s your favorite gelato in Rome?
Arlene Gibbs is a decorator, writer, and recovering Hollywood film executive.
Born in New York City to parents from the French/Dutch Caribbean island of St. Martin, Arlene (and her French passport) has found her home in Rome.
Arlene co-wrote the hit Hollywood film “Jumping the Broom” (aka Amore e Altri Guai in Italian) and was VP of production and development for several high profile actors/directors. She has written travel articles about Italy and the Caribbean for Fathom magazine. Arlene is currently working on interior design projects in Rome, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Anguilla, British West Indies.