Our favourite gelaterias in Rome's historic centre, matched-up with close-by major attractions.
In Rome, a top gelateria should offer not just a scoop of palatable pleasure but also a visually delicious piazza, fountain or outlook while you lick. Gelato is acceptable to eat at any time of day in Italy and if you see these impossibly thin, chic Roman women strutting down cobblestone, I can verify that while they'll forgo pizza and pasta, even they submit to the joy of the gelato.
Gelateria del Teatro
70, Via di San Simone, 00186 Roma.
+39 06 45474880.
WORTH SEEKING OUT IF YOU'RE VISITING: Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori, Castel Sant'Angelo.
This wins on taste (they use very high quality ingredients) and location. Wander down the quaint street of Via dei Coronari, packed with art dealers, boutiques and bookstores and halfway down you'll find a little alleyway with a line of pink potted flowers and a staircase leading up to an old theatre. There's nothing worse than being handed a melting, dripping scoop of gelato only to discover there's nowhere to sit. Here, there are little mosaic tables and chairs in which to relax and enjoy heavenly flavours such as my favourite: ricotta, almond and fig. I often see newcomers emerge from this gelateria and face the inevitable dilemma of whether to first take photos of the achingly quaint Italian setting or dive into their equally seductive gelato. The latter always wins.
40, Via Uffici del Vicario, 00186 Roma.
+39 06 6991243.
WORTH SEEKING OUT IF YOU'RE VISITING: The giant Zara store on Via del Corso, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Venezia.
These guys have been beloved in Rome since 1890 and used to make ice cream for Italian royalty. On any given day of the week there is a line of tourists and Italians waiting to devour their cakes, pastries and, predominantly, gelati. They have such a diverse assortment of flavours that the decision process is quite stressful. Some more unusual tastes include rice, champagne, ricotta and Sicilian cassata. A word of warning, I have never seen such generous scoops so do not go here if you're planning dinner any time in the near future. Also, if you're wondering why crowds of people are furiously licking while crouching and sitting on the pavement outside, it's because you pay more to sit at a table and unfortunately there are no public seats nearby. I suggest walking as quickly as possible to the Pantheon, which is just around the corner. Here you can sit on the steps of the fountain for free and enjoy a view of what is arguably the most magnificent monument in Rome.
91/92, Piazza Monte D’Oro, 00186 Roma.
WORTH SEEKING OUT IF YOU'RE VISITING: Piazza di Spagna, Ara Pacis, designer stores on Via dei Condotti, Piazza del Popolo.
Okay, the name is a tad prosaic but this new addition to the fiercely competitive Roman gelati scene is definitely a contender. When it comes to flavours, they experiment with Willy Wonka-style imagination, such as brie with mixed berries and spicy chocolate, capsicum, sesame or celery. There are less audacious flavours if your travel companion is timid, like pear and cinnamon, white peach or the entire fridge devoted to a dozen variations of chocolate. The ambitious owner Patrizio Alunni Tullini has even attempted merging the famous Italian tradition of aperitivo (aperitif) and gelato with Aperigelato, which entails finger foods paired with the salty gelati of your choice, along with a drink. The location is lively as there's a great fruit and vegetable market in this little piazza and there are at least two chairs outside that you can grab if you're quick.
NOTE: Italians will always ask if you want panna, or whipped cream, however, being a purist I'd politely decline :)