We had the good fortune to visit Rome during a summer that was particularly hot. Good, I say, because it provided ample excuses for indulging ourselves most unashamedly—eating gelati every few hours! Not that gelati need an excuse, of course. Rome’s most famous iced dessert is so completely and utterly gorgeous, anyone with a sweet tooth would succumb to the temptation.
Gelaterias, big and small, good and bad, are scattered across the length and breadth of Rome. Many are mere counters (the vans you’ll find outside major sights like the Colosseum or the Musei Vaticani are examples of this). They often have just a handful of flavours to choose from: hazelnut, chocolate, lemon, maybe a couple of others. Larger Gelaterias- which actually concentrate on gelati, rather than offering them up as a second thought- usually have about fifteen or twenty flavours, more if you’re lucky enough to find a really fancy one.
Gelato is traditionally made from a mix of sugar, milk and flavourings such as fruit, nuts, chocolate, coffee- whatever. There is, in traditional gelati, no cream, and only about 35% air, which is why it’s a `dense’ dessert. The gelaterias of Rome offer a fairly wide range of gelati, from traditional to ones that are based on yoghurt, soymilk, or even cream.
During our sojourn in Rome, we sampled gelati at a number of places. Some were passable, some were good, and some were simply great. The three I’d recommend are:
Canova, on the road that connects the Basilica of San Pietro to Castel Sant’ Angelo. If you’re walking towards the castle, the gelateria is on your left. It has a fairly wide range of gelati, including some deliciously refreshing fruit flavours. I had a lovely deep pink sottobosco- a mix of wild berries. This was one of the most expensive gelaterias we sampled, though: two scoops cost €3.
Gelateria Della Palma, on Via Del Lavatore (near the Fontana Trevi) is also worth a visit. They have lots of different flavours too, and the one I had- banana- was awesome. Slightly cheaper than Canova (two scoops cost €2.50).
Blue Ice, also near Trevi- if you’re facing the fountain, turn left and walk down the street- you’ll reach Blue Ice in a couple of minutes. Blue Ice became our favourite place, and for many reasons: the girls who run it are efficient and friendly, the gelati are relatively cheap (€2 for two scoops; you can pay up to €5 if you want extras like nuts, chocolate chips, and other trimmings); and the gelati- which includes a yoghurt section and a soymilk section- are hard to beat. They have variations of coffee and chocolate, along with all-time favourites like tiramisu, lemon, hazelnut, strawberry, and plenty of other fruit-based gelati, such as watermelon, melon, kiwi, papaya and passionfruit, mango, grapefruit, green apple, and coconut. Their gelati were so irresistible that it became a ritual for us to go to Trevi every evening just to end the day with a gelato from Blue Ice.