I couldn’t come to Rome and not try to seek out some of the famous Gelato for which this part of the world is renowned – and what better place in which to experiment than the Giolitti Gelateria, which features in all good travel guides as the best place to find your fix of traditional gelato in the Italian capital.
The history of gelato dates back to frozen desserts in Sicily and ancient Rome that were made from snow and ice brought down from mountaintops and preserved below ground. Later, in 1686, a Sicilian fisherman named Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli perfected the first ice cream machine (and it seems that many ice cream lovers have this man to thank!). However, the popularity of gelato only increased in the 1930s in northern Italy, where the first gelato cart was developed. Nowadays, as if to stick to tradition, Italy is the only country where handmade gelato beats out the industrial sector of gelato-making. In between checking out the sights and attractions of Rome, such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon, as well as the Roman Forum and the Trevi Fountain, it is somewhat obligatory to stop off for a little pit-stop to indulge in some handmade gelato!
Gelato can be made with milk, cream, sugar, and flavouring such as fresh fruit and nut puree. It is generally lower in calories than other styles of ice cream. The sugar content in homemade gelato, as in other styles of ice cream, is balanced with the water content to act as an anti-freeze to prevent it from freezing solid. As the crowds of tourists descended on Giolitti Gelateria in Rome, we were all oblivious as to how this colourful ice cream was made. There are small opportunities to see it being ‘whipped’ behind the scenes, but this doesn’t happen often. Still, when you’re faced with an array of flavours in front of you like I was, then perhaps the only thinking you need to do is HOW MANY of these flavours you’re going to try!
I have always been fascinated by different kinds of ice cream from around the world, and gelato sure has a big place in my heart. In particular, stracciatella flavour (not pictured here) which includes little rough pieces of chocolate mixed in with the ice cream itself. When compared to the likes of Sorbetes from the Philippines or Kulfi from India, or even similar ice-based desserts like the baobing from China or xue hua bing from Taiwan, the gelato really holds up well. I think there is something very sexy about eating gelato in Italy – it just seems traditional!
During my stay in Rome, I discovered the following gelaterias were highly recommended:
- Del Teatro
- I Caruso
However, for more information on the best places in Rome to find gelato, I really recommend checking out this guide from romeing.it, who know what they’re talking about!
When all was said and done, and when I had finally taken a good look at the all various flavours on sale at the famous Giolitti gelateria (and others), it was time to take my gelato over the road to see another amazingly traditional wonder for which Rome is renowned: the Pantheon!