The Eternal City might be one of Europe’s oldest capitals, but ancient artifacts aren’t the only reason to visit Rome. Long revered as a gastronomic hub, Italy’s biggest metropolis is also home to some of the country’s finest gelaterias. Here, heaven comes in scoops for the sweet-toothed – especially during summer, when ice-cream parlors stay open until midnight.
For aficionados, a circular route around the city – with a diversion southwest – provides an opportunity to sample the creme de la creme alongside some of Rome’s loveliest attractions. And the best thing about it is that you won’t go hungry along the way.
1. Il Gelato di San Crispino
Immortalized in Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel Eat, Pray, Love, this grande dame of gelaterias has been packing a cream-laden punch since 1992, when Giuseppe and Pasquale Alongi opened their first store in San Giovanni. Today, San Crispino can be found in five locations, the most accessible within tripping distance of the Trevi Fountain. You won’t find cones, sauces or toppings here thanks to the brothers’ purism. But what you will discover is delicious, traditional flavors, including Amalfi lemon and Sardinian honey. Now that sounds lip-smacking good!
A chance flea-market purchase of a gelato recipe book during childhood has led to a lifelong passion for Maria Agnese Spagnuolo, who opened the first of her six Fatamorgana outlets in Via Lago di Lesina in 2003. While her concoctions are blissfully void of additives – with several options lactose or gluten-free – Fatamorgana isn’t solely for the health-conscious. Imaginative flavor combinations are the big draw here, with recommendations including fennel, honey, licorice and Kentucky (dark chocolate and tobacco). Yep, you read that right… throw caution to the wind and try it!
3. Neve di Latte
Receiving Dissapore magazine’s coveted title of Italy’s best ice-cream parlor in 2013, Neve di Latte (Milk Snow) opened in the Flaminio district in 2011, but has quickly scaled the ranks of the most popular spots in the Roman gelato scene. The price-tag is heftier here than at Fatamorgana or Otaleg. However, founder Ermanno Di Pomponio would argue his artisanal ingredients are worth the splurge. Think Amedei chocolate, organic persimmon and – for the more adventurous – 25-year aged balsamic vinegar from Modena.
Another latecomer in Rome’s growing army of gourmet gelaterias, Otaleg knocked Neve di Latte off the top-spot in Dissapore magazine’s 2014 gelato rankings. The brainchild of Marco Radicioni – protege of gelato grand-master Claudio Torce – Otaleg might require a trip southwest of the city center. But gourmands won’t be disappointed by this laboratory come ice-cream parlor where the recipes offered are as creative as the gelateria’s name – gelato spelt backwards. Mouth-watering inventions include gorgonzola, white chocolate and hazelnuts.
5. Gelateria del Teatro
Former pastry chef Stefano Marcotulli has put his culinary skills to good use in this charming establishment, which he co-founded with his wife in 2006.
Burrowed deep along the cobblestone Via dei Coronari – around a five-minute stroll west of Piazza Navona – the gelateria is celebrated for its cornucopia of natural ingredients, ranging from walnuts to basil. Local favorites include the tangy fusion of raspberry and sage. And how could you possibly go wrong with indulgent scoops of chocolate fondant with Sicilian red wine. So, forget about counting calories and remember this is a walking gelato tour you can’t miss out on… go ahead splurge a little!