Summer in Rome is no joke. With temperatures hovering around 90 F/ 32 C and not much access to air conditioning, eating gelato is my number one survival tip to staying cool. Finding the best gelato in the city of Rome is not an easy feat, however. There are about 2,000 gelaterias in this city alone, so weeding out the tourist traps from genuinely delicious ice cream can be a challenge. Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure that you have the best gelato of your life while in the Eternal City, thoroughly tested by locals for trusted recommendations.
Tips for the best gelato:
- stay away from the tourist centers
As with any stores/shops/restaurants in the center, gelaterias around monuments and popular areas can often be hit or miss. Vendors here often have more expensive products of lower quality. While there are a some exceptions to this (which can be found with prior research), your best bet is to move farther away from the center when searching for your gelato of the day.
- look for certificates and awards
While it can be difficult if the store doesn’t advertise themselves in English, there are some ways to tell if they actually have, "the best gelato in Rome!". Inside, a store may advertise their ice cream as “gelato artiginale”, have stickers/certificates from Trip Adviser or “Gambero Rosso”, and might also have flavors “senza latte, zucchero, o uova” (without milk products, added sugar, or eggs).
- check the quality
If you take a look at the gelato before buying, or even entering the store, it could save you from the disaster of wasting one of your limited opportunities on a sub-par gelato. According to Italians, it’s important to see how the ice cream looks in the display. If it seems icey, not freshly made, or completely uneaten, skip it. Good signs of great gelato include: homemade/artisanal gelato, a variety of flavors that look popular, lines with locals (non-English speakers), and finally the availability of various toppings (whipped cream, melted chocolate, and nuts).
- try a few flavors
Most places will allow you to try at least one, if not a few, flavors of gelato. While this will help determine which gelateria out of many to decide on, it’s also helpful when choosing your flavor. Some shops have as many as 200 (!) flavors of gelato and taste testing will help you to narrow it down to your coveted two or three chosen. If they don’t speak English, all you need to ask is, “Posso provare (il cioccolato)?”
- go for it!
There is no excuse not to try as many different gelaterias as you can; no one will judge you if you go for a second (or third…) cone of the day.
To give you a head start, here are a few of my favorite gelato shops in Rome.
- della Palma (near the Pantheon; Via della Maddalena 19/23) For a preview of Roman gelato, della Palma is a great place to start. Minutes from the Pantheon (in an area covered with gelaterie), this cafe/ice cream shop combo boasts over 150 flavors of gelato. They also give special attention to food allergies and limitations with a huge variety of fruit flavors, soy products, and gluten-free ice cream/cones. — Try their: Brazilian dark chocolate, nutella, or one of their whipped mousses — Price: €2.50/small — Open: M-S 8:30 am-12:30 am
- Gelateria La Romana (Prati—Via Cola di Rienzo, 2; Repubblica; Ostiense) La Romana has three shops scattered over Rome and more all over the country. It is a family-run operation and they are conscious of listing their ingredients/production methods in the shop and online. Their ice cream is some of the creamiest I have tried in the city—they serve delicious chocolatey flavors with a melt-in-your-mouth sensation. Their base is made with certified organic milk but there are no lactose free options available. — Try their: crema della Nonna or their creamy hot chocolate (with complimentary cookies) — Price: €2.50/small — Open: M-S 11 am-12 am
- Carapina (near Campo di Fiori; Via dei Chiavari, 37) Carapina serves some seriously delicious gelato. Located directly in the center, this is one of the few places where you can pick up some quality while wandering the monuments and streets in the center of Rome. While this shop doesn’t boast many flavors (15-20), you really can’t go wrong with any of the them. They only serve fruit flavors in season, are dedicated to selling a quality product and describe their ice cream as “uno stile di vita", or "a style of life". — Try their: nocciola, stracciatella, or cioccolato — Price: €2.50/small — Open: M-F 12 pm-12 am
- Fatamorgana Gelato (Monti; Via degli Zingari, 5) For some scenic shopping/sitting/walking while your enjoy your cono, head to Fatamorgana. This gelateria is located in the trendy neighborhood of Monti, a short walk away from the Colosseum and Roman Forum. They offer a variety of milk/sugar/egg/gluten free gelato that still manages to taste amazing. — Try their: fragola (strawberry), pistacchio, or amareno — Price: €2.50/small — Open: S-T 12 pm-12 am, F-S 12 pm-1 am
- Il Pellicano (near Cipro metro stop; Via Ferrari) If you’re willing to take a short metro or bus ride, Il Pellicano is certainly worth the trip. Because it is farther from the center, this gelateria has low prices, complimentary chocolate, nuts, and whipped cream toppings, and very delicious ice cream. This family run shop makes fresh gelato daily, in house, and experiments with new flavors regularly. Definitely worth a try to experience an authentic spot full of locals. — Try their: bacio (chocolate/hazelnut), cioccolato fondente (dark chocolate), gelso (mixed berry) — Price: €1.50/small
For more information, I recommend checking out these articles about gelato in Rome.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/italy/rome/articles/Rome-where-to-buy-ice-cream/ http://www.romeing.it/rome-best-of-gelateria-guide/ https://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187791-c70805/Rome:Italy:Best.Gelato.In.Rome.html