Update, April 2018: In a huge blow for Rome’s gelato-lovers, Carapina’s Rome location has permanently closed. (You can still find Carapina in its original home of Florence, if you go). But don’t worry—you still have lots of other delicious options for where to find the best gelato in Rome! For the sake of salivating nostalgia, I’m leaving the post below as is.
You can never get enough of gelatoinRome. That’s a very good thing, since these days, there seems to be a new gelato shop opening every couple of months. And not just a new gelato shop. But a new real gelato shop.
What’s a “real” gelateria, you say? Well, the vast majority of Rome’s gelato shops spoon out industrialized junk, whipped up from a lovely conglomeration of synthetic thickeners, chemical flavors, and air. (Remember, friends, real gelato should not look like a cloud, and it should not be brighter than your sunburned face after a Roman holiday!). And for years, those who wanted top-notch, non-fake gelato had to seek it out, especially in the center, where such shops were few and far between.
I know that might seem surprising. Most guidebooks (and many websites) wax lyrical about central spots like San Crispino, Giolitti or Gelateria del Teatro. But trust me. Those places have seen their day.
But you know what? Things change. (Even in Rome!). And for 2014, it’s time for an update.
For one thing, I Caruso is no longer a hidden gem. (I’ll take some of the blame for that). And on a recent visit, I found its gelato, while still good—and way better than the fake junk you’d get at most of Rome’s other gelaterias—not quite as flavorful as I remembered.
Meanwhile? Just up the street and around the corner, another gelateria, opened two years ago by a former I Caruso employee, blows I Caruso out of the water. At least if you prefer your gelato rich and decadent. Like I do. (Hey, go big or go home, right?).
There’s nothing quite like spring in Rome. And coming from someone in love with this city no matter the season, that should mean something.
In Rome, spring brings that sliver of time (seriously, just a handful of weeks) when it’s no longer cold and rainy… but not yet boiling hot. You have to duck tour groups around the Colosseum and Vatican, but it’s not quite the human bumper-car game it becomes by June. And as people take to terraces and piazzas—whether kids kicking a soccer ball or friends meeting for a glass of wine—the atmosphere gets cheerier (and the people-watching better!).
Here are 5 reasons I love the spring in Rome, in pictures.
After more than a year of silence, I’m going to let you in on Rome’s best-kept gelato secret: Rome’s best gelato isn’t at Grom, at San Crispino, or even at Ciampini (although that’s still my favorite on-the-beaten-track gelateria, for when you just don’t have time to make a voyage out to, say, Vice).
Instead, Rome’s best gelateria is a little place in the centro storico’s business district, a short walk from Repubblica.
If you haven’t heard of I Caruso, you’re not the only one. So far, it’s escaped notice even by Rome’s myriad foodies and gelato lovers, never mind guidebooks. In fact, it didn’t even make it onto any of the recent lists I’ve seen of Rome’s best gelato shops (including these otherwise-great round-ups by Tavole Romane, Katie Parla, and NileGuide).
That said, if I Caruso is a local secret, it’s one of the most popular local secrets I know. Every time I go, the place is crowded with Italians. Men in suits fresh from their work at one of the nearby banks, families, well-heeled women — they’re all here. And with reason.
About a year and a half old, I Caruso is truly artigianale; not only is everything made on-site with fresh ingredients, but you can watch them make the gelato through the glass. The panna, in either normal or zabaglione flavors, is the best I’ve had in Rome. It’s whipped fresh right there.
And the gelato itself? It’s out of this world. The extra-dark chocolate is the creamiest, richest I’ve ever had. Balanced off with a fragola that tastes like a just-picked strawberry, bursting-with-flavor melon, or with I Caruso’s famous pistacchio, it’s the perfect cup. Other options, which change seasonally, include mandarin orange, almond, and fior di panna.
Meanwhile, the servers are friendly, the place is super-clean, and the prices (€2.50 for a small, €3 medium, €3.50 large) aren’t bad. You can also get gelato by the kilo here… a pricey option, but I can’t imagine a better way to be a hit at a party. (Below, where the magic happens).
Another bonus? The location. A 10-minute walk from the Repubblica metro stop, it’s much more convenient than many of the other artisanal gelaterias in Rome. I Caruso is also right around the corner from Piazza Sallustio, so if you don’t want to take advantage of one of the benches on the street, you can wander over and enjoy your gelato while checking out some great ancient ruins: the remnants of the villa built by the Roman historian Sallust in the first century B.C.
Want more local secrets on Rome’s best food, sights, and more? Check out The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City, now available for purchase on Amazon, below, or through my site here!
Sweet relief — in the form of homemade, artisanal gelato — has just come that much closer for those sightseeing in the Colosseum area. Right across from the entrance to the Roman forum, on Via Cavour, is "Flor," Rome's newest gelateria.
Flor just opened in the last month, and I've already taken (several) tastings. The good news: It's definitely good gelato. And it's made fresh on-site, always a absolute must huge plus. It's also a welcome addition to an area that previously, Sicilian pastry and ice cream shop Ciuri Ciuri aside, didn't have very many gelato options at all, never mind artisanal ones.
That said, it's not the best gelato I've ever tasted. Some of the flavors don't have as much "kick" as I'd like, particularly the fruity ones (is pear really that hard to turn into gelato? Because time after time, I find gelaterias failing to deliver on their pear flavors). But others are definitely worth trying. My two favorites: the variegato all'amarena, a mix of creamy vanilla and cherry, and the fondente, a super-rich dark chocolate.
Even if it's not Rome's best gelateria, Flor is still pretty darn good. Oh, and they have 3-euro milkshakes, too. You can bet I'm going back soon to try one.
Flor. Located at the bottom of Via Cavour, just above where it meets Via dei Fori Imperiali, on the left. I'll go back soon for the proper address, but if you head up Via Cavour from the Roman forum entrance, you can't miss it.
I'm doing some research for an upcoming story, and this research includes finding Rome's best gelato. (There could be worse things).
Thus far, I've been pretty good: Ordering a "coppa piccola" of gelato, tasting, and throwing half out.
But at the gelateria Ciampini, even though I'd already had two frozen treats, I couldn't keep myself from gobbling the whole gelato down. I tried chestnut, mixed berry, and peach with pinenuts. Each one was super-creamy, but with bits of their namesakes mixed in (including actual, chewy bits of chestnut, and whole pinenuts). Yum, yum, yum. I had a stomachache afterwards, but it was so worth it.
(Since then, I've been back to Ciampini a number of times — and I still think their gelato is some of the best in Rome).
Ciampini. Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina 29, in between the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. Click here for a map.