When in Rome, they say, do as the Romans do. In my case, this roughly translates to eat as the Romans eat, a commandment that I am all too happy to oblige when visiting the Italian capital: any excuse to start a strict diet of coffee, pizza, pasta and gelato. However, in a city seemingly overflowing with gorgeous cafes, restaurants and gelaterias at every turn, it can be hard to choose where to go, and even harder to avoid the more touristy spots and seek out the true local gems. Never fear: here at a foodie guide we’ve done the hard work for you (you’re welcome) and scouted out the best gelaterias in the city. In reverse order, here are my top three choices for a scoop (or three) of top-notch gelato in Rome.
Photo credit: zoetricksta
Number 3 on my list has to be Fatamorgana, a local mini-chain serving up delicious, home-made gelato with twist. The gelato flavours here are famous for being unique and unusual: the menu boasts choices like goats cheese with citrus, rosemary chocolate and almonds with cardamom. While there are a number of locations across Rome, my favourite has to be the outpost in Trastevere, is a riverside neighbourhood located just across the Tiber, and known for being popular with the locals. Here, the cobblestone streets and piazzas really come to life, especially in the evening when the restaurant terraces fill with happy dinners, the street performers choose their spots and the locals come out for their evening stroll. My recommendation? Choose one of the many restaurants around the Piazza di Santa Maria for some dinner and drinks, and afterwards take a short stroll down to Via Roma Libera to sample some of Fatamorgana’s delicious gelato: you won’t be disappointed.
Fatamorgana also has a very cool backstory. Founder Maria Agnese started her business after being awarded a public funding grant specifically for female entrepreneurs, with which she opened her very first gelateria on Via Lago di Lesina. Due to her own experience as a sufferer of coeliac disease, Maria Agnese decided that the focus at Fatamorgana would be on natural, gluten-free gelato, so that everybody could come and enjoy her creations, regardless of dietary requirements. The result? Award-winning, natural and innovative gelato flavours and a menu with something for absolutely everyone.
Il Gelato di San Crispino
Photo credit: chubbybunnyeats
At number 2 is Il Gelato di San Crispino, a name that the bookworms among you might have heard before. In her bestselling 2006 memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert namechecks this gelateria, explaining that a local bus driver told her that they serve up the best gelato in Rome:
It is early September, 2003. The weather is warm and lazy. By this, my fourth day in Rome, my shadow has still not darkened the doorway of a church or a museum, nor have I even looked at a guidebook. But I have been walking endlessly and aimlessly, and I did finally find a tiny little place that a friendly bus driver informed me sells The Best Gelato in Rome. It’s called “Il Gelato di San Crispino.” I’m not sure, but I think this might translate as “the ice cream of the crispy saint.” I tried a combination of the honey and the hazelnut. I came back later that same day for the grapefruit and the melon. Then, after dinner that same night, I walked all the way back over there one last time, just to sample a cup of the cinnamon-ginger.
The gelato at Il Gelato di San Crispino really is incredible, and when you visit you can easily see why Elizabeth Gilbert might have made a few return trips. Like Fatamorgana, there is a real focus here on producing authentic, natural gelato, free of artificial flavours or colourings and made from fresh, seasonal produce. It pays off: Il Gelato di San Crispino has a reputation for producing some of the highest quality gelato in Rome, and has also developed into a mini-chain of artisan gelaterias. The most convenient outpost for visitors to Rome is its central parlour on Via della Panetteria: despite its Eat, Pray, Love fame and its prime location just a stone’s throw from the Trevi Fountain, this is still a blink-and-you’ll-miss it spot. Instead of advertising itself too strongly, Il Gelato di San Crispino lets its gelato do the talking, and that it does: from the sumptuous honey flavour to its range of fresh and tangy sorbets, this is truly a treat for the tastebuds.
Gelateria del Teatro
My all-time favourite gelato spot in Rome has to be Gelateria del Teatro, and there are more than a few reasons why. Firstly, the gelato itself is some of the best I’ve ever tasted: from the classic flavours through to the more innovative combinations such as dark chocolate with red wine, sage and raspberry and white chocolate with basil, this gelato is masterfully created by the team at Gelateria del Teatro. As well as a huge selection of flavour combinations, the gelateria also has a picturesque serving window, as well as being situated beside a gorgeous courtyard space with a huge flight of steps: the perfect spot to eat your gelato al fresco on a hot summer’s day. Tucked away from the busier areas of the city on the lovely shopping street Via dei Coronari, Gelateria del Teatro is just a 5 minute walk from the famous Piazza Navona, meaning that any visitor to Rome is bound to end up in the vicinity of Gelateria del Teatro at some point during their stay, and if a time-limited trip permits a visit to just one Roman gelateria it should be this one. Choose a quirky flavour, grab a spot on the steps nearby and sit and enjoy the moment: I’m not sure it gets much better than this.
So there you have it: my top 3 gelaterias in Rome! Do you agree with my list? Have I missed somewhere amazing? Or are you planning a visit to any of these gelaterias sometime soon? Let me know via Twitter or Instagram, or in the comments below!
As usual, here are the Instagram links for each of these foodie spots – happy scrolling!