How to Find the Best Gelato in Rome

two gelato cones in front of the pantheon in rome

It is said by many that Italy boasts the best gelato in the world. The Italians do it best! And Rome has no shortage of gelaterias. Any time I ask a Roman what the best gelato in Rome is, I get a different answer! I’ve taken many tours in Rome, and each different guide will tell me that THIS is the best gelateria. Truth be told, I’ve rarely had bad gelato in Rome. But I’m going to give you some tips given to me by locals on how to find the best gelato in Rome.

 

How to find the best gelato in Rome. A guide to finding the most authentic gelaterias around this beautiful ancient city of Rome.

Gelato 101

Before you go to Italy and eat ALL the gelato, let’s get you educated on this very important subject! You don’t just want to go eating any old gelato. I mean even with those 30K steps, you don’t want to be wasting calories on bad gelato. It’s just bad practice and has the potential to completely ruin your trip to Italy! So let’s learn a little bit about gelato!

A little gelato history

Cool treats have dated all the way back to biblical times and it’s a good thing it was so hot in the desert as it may have never been invented if everyone had air conditioning. It is thought that the Chinese taught the Arabs how to mix snow with syrups to combine a tasty treat, a first crude version of sorbetto.

Arab traders then passed down this skill to the Venetians in the middle ages. The Venetians then passed this on to the people in the south of Italy and we now have the true birth of sorbetto on the island of Sicily. Sorbetto comes from the Arabic, scherbet (sweet snow) or from the Turkish, chorbet (to sip), and was made with sugar, fruit juices, and snow (I don’t know where they got snow in Sicily…this is all hearsay by the way).

It’s unclear how sorbetto morphed into gelato by adding dairy, but sometime in the 1500s, Bernardo Buontalenti, a Florentine, brought gelato to the court of Caterina Dei Medici, and a star was born and the art of gelato making spread like wildfire across the European continent! The first person to sell gelato from Italy to the public, Francesco Procopio Dei Coltelli, actually opened a cafe in Paris called Café Procope, and now gelato is sold all over the world!

Now Italians consume over 4 kilograms of gelato each year! Can you blame them? I think my average might be even higher!

Gelato means frozen in Italian, but don’t worry, everyone will know you mean ice cream if you say it!

Best Gelato in Italy

What is the difference between gelato and ice cream?

Gelato versus ice cream: what’s the difference? Many people who visit Italy think that gelato and ice cream are the same thing, but guess what, they’re not. The difference between gelato vs. ice cream is that gelato has less air than ice cream making it denser. It also has less milk fat, which can coat the tongue and dull the taste buds. Many people think that this is why gelato, which contains less cream and is churned slower, tastes better than ice cream.

It can be said that ice cream is fat and fluffy (more fat and more air) and gelato is dense and intense (less air and more flavor). And while ice cream contains eggs, gelato usually does not.

Best Gelato in Italy

What is gelato made of?

Most gelato starts with the same base which contains milk and sugar. It is slowly churned in a gelato maker while other flavors are added. Good gelato ingredients should be fresh, with no chemicals added.

Does gelato have dairy?

Gelato contains dairy. Sorbetto does not. Sorbetto is made with a water, sugar, and fruit base, but is made the same way as gelato. So anyone who is lactose intolerant should stick to sorbetto. It’s actually my personal favorite since I love fruit so much!

Does gelato have eggs?

Not usually!  While most ice cream is made with egg yolks, gelato is usually not made with eggs at all.

How is gelato made?

There are several ways to make gelato, but almost all gelato shops will have a gelato machine. There are processes called Hot Press, Cold Press, and Sprint methods.

If you can find out which kind of process a gelato shop uses, it will give you a good idea of how good the gelato will be. Avoid gelato from places that use the Sprint method, as this uses a mix and allows for little experimentation and customization. Most touristy gelato places in Italy will use the Sprint process. You can read all about the different gelato processes here.

Best Gelato in Italy

How do you find good authentic gelato in Italy?

Italy is full of gelato, but not all gelato shops in Italy are created equal! Be sure you know how to find authentic Italian gelato that will knock your socks off! Here are a few tips to help you find the best Italian gelato:

  • Avoid mountains of brightly colored gelato
  • Look for gelato in stainless steel tubs with lids. You should have to read the best Italian gelato flavors, not see them!
  • Look for signs that say gelato in casa, fatto in casa, or gelato artigianale. These words all mean that it is homemade, made in house, and artisanal. But beware, some shops will advertise this when it’s not actually true!
  • Look for muted colors. Bananas are not bright yellow, so banana gelato should not be bright yellow either, but closer to white.
    Best Gelato in Italy
  • Taste test the gelato: As for un assaggio (taste) of pistachio gelato. Pistachio gelato is the most expensive gelato to produce if done correctly. If the gelato shop is cutting corners you’ll be able to taste it in their pistachio gelato. If they’re using real pistachios, you’re good to go! If it looks too bright and doesn’t taste quite right, then walk away. Using real pistachios is a sign that this gelateria is committed to making real gelato with quality ingredients, even at the expense of making a little less.
    How to Find the Best Gelato in Italy

What are the best gelato flavors in Italy?

There are a wide range of flavors of gelato in Italy, and they are all pretty dang amazing! Here are some of the Italian gelato flavors you’ll find in most gelaterie:

  • cioccolato fondente Amazing dark chocolate! If you’re looking for regular chocolate, try cioccolato al latte.
  • Nutella If you know, you know! Delectable milk chocolate hazelnut!
  • bacio Very similar to Nutella, but usually with actual hazelnuts.
  • pistacchio Like I mentioned above, be sure you try this one before trying anything else! Pistacchio is the most expensive gelato to make and is delicious if done right!
  • mandorla Almond flavored gelato
  • nocciola It’s Nutella, minus the chocolate…ok, so just hazelnuts, but it’s still so yummy and almost always found at any gelateria.
  • fior di latte This is the base for any gelato; just creamy, sweet gelato with no added flavors.
  • cocco A classic, creamy, coconut gelato.
  • amarena fior di latte with cherries. yum!
  • fragola Strawberry gelato can be found at almost any gelateria and is one of the most classic gelato in Italy! Remember to find a fragola that is not hot pink, or light pink, but actual strawberry colored!
  • lampone Rich and delicious raspberry!
  • limone Lemon, I love this one on a hot day! Again, be sure you find one that is not neon yellow.
  • fico Fig Gelato. This is one of my favorites, but it is harder to find, but if you’re in Italy in the summer, you might get lucky. The best fig gelato I’ve ever had was at Gelato del Teatro, which you’ll read about below!
  • frutti di bosco technically this means fruits of the forest, but this berry gelato usually contains blueberries and blackberries.
  • mela Apple. This one is really yummy. I especially love mela verde (green apple).
  • stracciatella  This is probably my kids’ favorite. It’s just fior di latte mixed with hardened chocolate sauce. Sort of like chocolate chip ice cream!
  • ananas Pineapple. So good on a hot day!
  • mango  I’ll let you figure this one out.
  • pompelmo This is my absolute favorite sorbetto in Italy, but it’s hard to find. I’ve had it at Gelato del Teatro in Rome and Gelateria Santa Trinita in Florence. If you see it, try it!

Best Gelato in Italy

How much does gelato cost in Italy?

The answer to this questions will vary from city to city, and from gelateria to gelateria. I would plan anywhere from €2 to €6, although I would say that the average is €3. Be sure you know the cost before ordering. There may be many options, but you can say, “I’d like a €3 cone please.” I’ve read many articles that tell you to order your cones and pay first and then pick your flavors. More often than not I have not found this to be true. Maybe I’m doing it wrong or maybe I have so many kids they think I look too frazzled to ask. I don’t know! Ask when you’re ready to order if they want you to pay upfront or not, then report back to me, please!

However you order gelato and however much it costs, be sure to budget a good chunk of cash for your gelato allowance while you’re in Italy!

The Best Gelato in Rome Italy

If you want to try some of the best gelato in Rome, take a walking gelato tour! 

Fatamorgana

Best Gelato in Italy
By a long shot, the best gelato I’ve eaten in Italy was at Fatamorgana in Rome. There are three branches – I made pilgrimages to each of them. Just to be sure, you see. Portions may be small, of the ‘artisanal’ size, but Fatamorgana’s USP is the interesting and innovative flavors that often include herbs and cheeses. My favorite was the raspberry and hibiscus with black rice.
From The Mediterranean Traveller

 

 

CamBio Vita

Best Gelato in Italy

I’ve eaten countless cones of gelato in Rome, and ever since I discovered CamBio Vita it’s been the only gelateria I’ll frequent if I’m anywhere in the vicinity. While fruit-flavored vegan gelato is easy to find in just about any gelateria, CamBio Vita has the best non-fruit vegan flavors. My usual order is two scoops – one dark chocolate and one Bounty flavor – in a chocolate-dipped cone. Heavenly!
From The Nomadic Vegan

Come il Latte

Best Gelato in Italy
We made it a personal mission to stop at every gelateria possible while in Italy for 2 weeks. We tried a bunch along the way (so long as they weren’t those terrible, fluorescent, mile-high concoctions), and ventured to a few specific ones about which we’d heard great things. Come il Latte in Rome blew the rest out of the water. It was the creamiest gelato we tried, with intense-but-authentic flavors. Nothing was overly sweet or artificial, and the dark chocolate dip put it over the top. The groups of locals outside seemed to agree.
From Local Passport Family
 

Giolitti

Best Gelato in Italy
One of the best things about traveling in Italy is trying all the gelato, and my favorite gelato shop is Giolitti in Rome. We had been walking for hours around the hot streets of Rome, so I was so happy when we first found Giolitti. It’s easy to spot by all the people standing around the street outside eating enormous cones of ice cream. The line was long but moved quickly.
 
The thing I loved the most was the unusual flavors – in fact, I went back several times to sample more flavors. They have gianduja (chocolate and hazelnuts – which you absolutely HAVE to try), caramelized fig (so good!), pear, blueberry, and even champagne. Go there on your first day in Rome so you can go back every other day you’re there to try more flavors! And grab a handful of napkins – the servings are enormous and can get messy.
From Travel Collecting

Gelateria dei Gracchi

Best Gelato in Italy
Our favorite gelato shop in Rome and one we make a point of visiting every time we are in the city is called ‘I Gracchi’. They made a name for themselves years ago because of their obsession with genuine ingredients and traditional making techniques and their gelato is so delicious, they are now pretty much an institution in Rome! Their shops have simple decor and the star of the show are the gelato flavors themselves: you can choose between creams (I adore zabajone and chocolate orange, seriously delicious) and fruit flavors. They only use fruit that is in season and the taste is amazing. I noticed recently that I Gracchi also does ‘free from’: this is great as if you have a lactose intolerance for instance, it means you can have gelato without issues. They are also very good at labeling for allergies which I think is very reassuring if you have any food intolerance in the family
From Mama Loves Rome
 

Melograno

Best Gelato in Italy
When visiting Rome, the craving hit for some gelato on a beautiful spring day. We were on our way to the Trevi Fountain and started to look for a good gelato shop. After seeing the Trevi Fountain we made our way to Melograno, located in the same square. Since it was an area flooded with tourist I didn’t expect much, but the gelato ended up being the best we ate while we were in Rome. My choice was the dense, rich chocolate gelato.
From Honeymoon Always

La Strega Nocciola

How to Find the Best Gelato in Italy
We spent our week in Rome trying every gelateria we could find and I came away with a clear favorite: La Strega Nocciola. It’s a small, unassuming shop but they bring top-quality ingredients and interesting flavors (in addition to the classics). Their chili chocolate, in particular, can’t be missed! You can also find La Strega Nocciola in several locations in Florence.
From The Family Voyage
 

Gelateria del Teatro

How to Find the Best Gelato in ItalyHow do you spot real gelato? The secret is in the colors. Pistachio should be a muted green (not bright green). Banana should look almost gray (never yellow). And every other flavor should carry the color of the ingredient it boasts—never an artificial one. This is how I knew when I walked into Gelateria del Teatro in Rome that it was most definitely the real deal.

Hand-crafted gelato made with real ingredients. My heart tripped over itself in delight. And then I tried some and my heart tripped again. Long story short, I went back almost every day of my month in Rome and tried every single flavor they offered at the time—from creamy pumpkin to raspberry thyme. Every single one lived up to my expectations.
From Vicious Foodie

Gelateria La Romana

How to Find the Best Gelato in Italy
During my last trip to Rome I stayed in a lovely boutique hotel across the road from Gelateria La Romana. Every time we walked past, this little Gelato shop literally had a line-up around the corner of mostly Italians. So if the Italians eat there… it’s probably good Gelato, right? We eat at least two cones a day and it was absolutely the best, creamiest gelato I’ve ever tasted.
From Fly Stay Luxe

Venchi Chocolate and Gelato

Having sampled countless gelato treats during our Italy road trip we stumbled upon Venchi Chocolate and Gelato moments before leaving for the airport in Rome. We were drawn by the extravagant hot chocolate waterfall adorning the shop wall and couldn’t resist indulging in the rich Italian style gelato. The flavors are mouthwatering and the gelato is smooth, creamy and delicious. Located just steps from the Pantheon, we grabbed a seat at the fountain in Piazza della Rotonda and adored both the gelato and the view!
From Show Them the Globe

Gelateria Della Palma

Gelateria Della Palma in Rome is a must visit for anyone strolling through the streets near the Pantheon. Their delicious assortment of gelato includes over 150 different gelato flavors. From the moment you step into this little shop, you can’t help but want to try every delicious flavor you see, or grab a bag of Italian goodies off to the side.

Della Palma has even created gelato varieties without soy, milk, gluten and even sugar, perfect for those with allergens who wish to taste truly delectable gelato ice. In addition to gelato, the café also has sweet desserts and cakes to choose from, which one can enjoy inside the shop. Of course, if you do get gelato to go, make sure you devour it quickly, the Italian sun is quick to do so as well.
From The Elusive Family

I hope you find one that suits your tastebuds. And if you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to try them all. You’ve earned it! And if you find another gelateria that is worthy of being labeled as the best gelato in Rome, please let me know so we can add it!

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