Gelato. It goes hand in hand with pizza and coffee when I think of Italy. And it's something that I have no issue eating on the daily whilst I'm over in the country I love so much.
The history of gelato dates back to the 16th century. Sicilian-born Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, undoubtedly was one of the most influential individuals in the history of gelato, was among the first to sell it to the public, spreading its popularity throughout Europe.
The history of gelato is closely tied to two regions: Dolomite in the far north of Italy, and Sicily in the far south. In Dolomite gelato was made with milk, cream, sugar, eggs, and natural flavours. In the far south, the gelato was predominantly water based. Lower in fat and slightly higher in sugar content, it was called sorbetto or "sorbet" in English. That's all the dairy free flavours I get to choose from, although more and more gelateria's offer dairy-free creamy gelato as well, not just sorbet.
In Rome, gelato is a must. Firstly the city is off the coast so in summer you can't cool off in the sea, and secondly because it's the most scenic city to stroll around in. And strolling is always made better with a refreshing gelato to lick.
So here are a few of my fav's and a few well-known incredible spots to find gelato in my favourite city of all of Europe, The Eternal City, Roma.
Piazza degli Zingari, 5 (Monti) ~ Other loactions in Prati and Trastevere
These guys change their selection daily so every trip can be different. Imagine black rice and rose petal, or avocado, white wine and lime, or their best seller basil, walnuts and honey. Dairy free options (yay) as well as sugar free options are available, AND... wait for it... gluten free cones! Everyone wins here!
Via Agonale, 3 (Piazza Navona) ~ Other locations at Pantheon, Campo dei Fiori and Termini
We actually had affogato from here which was incredible. B got salted caramel with hot espresso poured on top, and I got my usual, cioccolato extra noir (dairy free dark chocolate). Unlike affogato back home where it's typically one small scoop of ice cream, here you'll get 2 large scoops in a take away coffee cup, with espresso poured on top, and it's only 3.50 euros generally (2.50 euro gelato + 1.00 euro espresso). Grab a small 30c cookie on top for an extra treat!
There's a large sign on the wall so you know what ingredients are in all their gelatos, sorbets, frappes and ices which is great if you need dairy free, or gluten free. And added bonus that their cups, spoons and packaging are all recyclable.
Fior di Luna
Via della Lungaretta, 96 (Trastevere)
If you want certified organic and fair trade gelato, this is your spot. With most ingredients sourced locally, this is where sorbets are the stand out - only fresh, seasonal fruit is used.
Gelateria del Teatro
Via dei Coronari, 65 (Navona)
If you want to see gelato being made by hand, then stand outside the window of this place and see the milk churn, the enormous blocks of chocolate on the bench, and the almonds being thrown into the mix. With lemons from the Amalfi Coast and almonds from Sicily, you need to take a numbered-ticket just to order here it can get that busy. But with flavours like dark chocolate + red wine, sage + raspberry or lavender + white peach amongst all the usual favourites, you don't wanna skip this place.
Via Uffici del Vicario, 40 (Pantheon)
Established in 1900 and still a family run business to this day, Giolitti is arguably Rome's best-known gelateria. There is always a queue and always a buzz outside as this place isn't the typical little walk-in and out ice cream place. It's a very large sit-in cafe that also has an extensive range of cakes, pastries, sweets and chocolates. Go all out and get a gelato sundae to eat there. You won't need lunch. We initially wanted to have affogato here, but I either misunderstood the woman taking my order (even though she was speaking plain English), or they could possibly have the worlds best affogato, because when I asked for two, she said to me with a semi-serious tone in her voice, "they are 8 euros each". Safe to say, we skipped it here.
So there you go. Enough to have you looking at a trip to Italy sometime soon? I can only hope so.
If you are yet to try REAL Italian gelato, you are simply missing out on one of life's greatest pleasures!