No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to a traditional gelateria, where famous Italian ice cream is sold. Actually, we think that no single day of sightseeing in Rome is complete without having gelato at least once. And while there are gelaterie, or ice cream shops, on virtually every corner in Rome, not all of them are worth your euros.
In general, you want to look for gelato that is natural in color, offered in small vats and not puffed full of air. Avoid places with brightly (artificially) colored heaps of swirled gelato—this is a sure sign of mass production. Instead, head to one of these gelaterie (listed in no particular order), famous for their artisanal, house-made gelato and widely considered to be among the best gelato in Rome.
Rome's most centrally located gelateria, tiny Frigidarium is on Via del Governo Vecchio, near the Piazza Navona and nightlife of Campo de'Fiori. Its gelato is made from carefully sourced, high-quality ingredients, such as vanilla beans from Madagascar, cocoa from a Dutch company and special Bronte pistachios grown in Sicily.
Frigidarium makes its gelato every day, and most of it is gluten-free. You can even have your cone dipped in a chocolate candy shell.
The name means "like milk," which gives you an idea of the main ingredient in use here—gelato at Come il Latte is made of 70% fresh cream, giving it an extra-milky taste. This place feels like an old-fashioned, US-style ice cream parlor, but the flavors are original and innovative.
Have you ever tasted prickly pear gelato? Or how about ricotta-pear-chocolate? There are also milk-free options for the lactose intolerant, as well as gelato-filled pastries and cakes.
Original flavors, organic ingredients, and savvy marketing have made Fatamorgana the hottest (or is it the coldest?) gelateria in Rome. There are now nine locations in Rome, where you can find flavors you just won't find anywhere else.
How does avocado, lime, and white wine gelato sound? Or mint and goat cheese? Fatamorgana is the place to be daring with your gelato choices! They even offer vegan options and gelato happy hours.
Your wanderings in Rome will probably lead you to Trastevere and when they do, you must head to Fiordiluna. Famous for its chocolate and fruit flavors made of fair-trade, organic ingredients, this traditional, family-run gelateria also sells housemade chocolate bars embedded with dried fruit, nuts and spices.
Like the neighborhood it's set in, there's a real feel of tradition and authenticity here.
You once had to trek over to the Prati neighborhood near the Vatican to find Gelateria Gracchi, but now, there are four locations across Rome. Flavors here are comforting and traditional, like the gelateria itself.
Try seasonal specialties like tangerine or roasted chestnut, or rich milk chocolate or zabaglione, made with egg yolks and Marsala wine. They also make ice cream bars and bonbons.
From a terrific location near the Spanish Steps, Ciampini has been serving scoops of handmade gelato for more than 70 years. The ingredients are all organic, and the ambiance is traditional and humble.
Chocolate, hazelnut and coffee flavors are especially recommended. The family also runs a bistro a few steps away.
Other Worthy Gelato Contenders
If you can't make it to one of my picks for the best gelato in Rome, you won't be disappointed with these alternatives:
- San Crispino: Portions have gotten smaller at San Crispino, but the quality has remained the same at this Trevi Fountain favorite made famous in Eat, Pray, Love.
- Giolitti: Kids will be dazzled by the array of flavors at Giolitti, a Roman institution. They also sell candy, cakes, and cookies for non-ice cream eaters.
- Gelateria del Teatro: You can watch the magic being made at Gelateria del Teatro, which has its own on-site gelato and sweets laboratory. The proof is in the pudding...er...the gelato, in this case!
- Il Gelato di Claudio Torcé: For both old-school and out-of-this-world flavors, head to one of the outlets of Il Gelato di Claudio Torcé, with eight bright, simple locations across the city.