By Jordan Coates
Rome is a magical city where the streets are filled with rich history, amazing architecture, incredible art and, like so many other Italian cities, an unbelievable number of gelato shops.
Most Romans have their favorite shop but for the gelato-loving traveler faced with so many options, it is hard to decide which shop to patronize. Stopping in them all would not only be near impossible, but also detrimental to your waistline. Nonetheless, in order to find the best of the best in those areas of Rome most frequented by travelers, I surrendered my waistline and set out on a gelato tour of Rome.
I quickly found that the large number of shops was not the only problem; the innumerable variety of flavors in many also proved daunting. Luckily, most shops will let you have at least two flavors, even if you only order the smallest size cup or cone.
I started my tour at the Spanish Steps where I found Mariotti Bar just on the right of the Metro station. In addition to the usual selection of limone, fragola and cioccolata, Mariotti also offered unique flavors such as pear, mango, panna cotta, trifle, eggnog, biscotti, snickers, banana, and pineapple.
It was a tough choice, but I opted for the mango and pear. The mango was sweet and delicious, and the pear, a rare gelato option, while not the most appealing color, was very true to pear taste and exceptionally sweet. In a regular cone or cup a small is €3.30, a medium €4.50, a large €5.00 and an extra large €9.00. Be forewarned that if they’re making crepes you might find it hard to stay only for the gelato.
My next top choice was Café Di Noto on Piazza Colonna in the central part of the city about halfway between the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. This shop had an array of flavors, including melon and cassata siciliana, but its original basic flavors proved to be the best. The creaminess of the vanilla and rich dark color of the chocolate made the choice easy. While it may seem a boring choice, the chocolate tasted like cake batter and I ate every last bite. The prices are a bit cheaper here with a small costing €2.00, a medium €3.00, and a large €4.00.
While visiting the Trevi Fountain, take the time to get a scoop and marvel at the beauty of the fountain. Just next to the Trevi is a shop called Leoorano. Odds are the cones in the hands of the people making up the massive crowds in front of the fountain are from this busy shop. The gelato display here is especially inviting. Try the chocolate mint or limonchello. A small costs €2.50, a medium €4.00, a large €6.00, and an extra large is €10.00.
After visiting the Pantheon, pass by all the restaurants and follow the side street. On the right is a gelato shop with an assortment of delicious flavors including kiwi, strawberry and cream, mandarin, and my favorite, cherry. Even better, if you are feeling a bit guilty from all the gelato indulgence, you’ll be happy to know that all the fruit flavors have no dairy or fat. The shop is called Gelateria Produzione Artigianale. A small is €3.50, a medium is €5.00, a large is €7.00 and an extra large is €10.00.
When visiting the Colosseum and Roman Forum, you’ll see various vendors with a few choices of gelato flavors. Avoid them and instead head towards the National Museum. Walking down the steps from the Piazza del Campidoglio, you can spot the ice cream cones sitting outside the shop in the Plazza d’ara Coeli.
While looking at the flavors like frutti di bosco and nutella, I was given a taste without even asking. Some, but not all shops will provide tastings, and I am so glad this one did and that the salesperson didn’t ask what flavor I’d like to taste. Otherwise, I probably would have never tasted the incredibly delicious croccantino amaretto. I not only chose this flavor to fill my cup, but I also chose it as the best gelato in Rome! The shop is Gelateria Artigianale Vacanze Romane and you can buy a small for €2.50, a medium for €3.50, a large for €4.00, and an extra large for €7.00.
My final gelato shop pick is Risorgimento Caffe. This restaurant is on the corner of the streets leading to the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica. On the side of the restaurant is a small window serving a handful of gelato flavors. Grab a cone and enjoy it while sitting on the steps in St. Peter’s Square. For a cone a small is €2.50, a medium is €3.00, and a large is €4.00. For a cup a small is €3.00 and a medium is €4.00.
Gelato shops in Rome are as frequent as Starbucks (if not more) in American cities, so it is very difficult to decide which to visit. However, after my gelato tour, these particular gelato shops were my favorites. They all have a good choice of flavors and are all close to Rome’s greatest sites. Enjoy!
If you go:
Café Di Noto
Piazza Colonna 356
Gelateria Artigianale Vacanze Romane
Plazza d’ara Coeli 10
Via Di Forta Angelica