Off the beaten path in Rome: Gelato!

Bacio and Coconut Gelato in front of the Trevi Fountain August, 2004

On our recent trip around the world, Rome was was our first stop! Since this city is basically our second home, it was the best place to start such an epic trip. In honor of summer and the season of the “passeggiata” (a leisurely Italian walk), with a delicious melting cone of frozen heaven, I’ve decided to key you on on our three favorite Gelateria’s in Rome and the surrounding zone. If you haven’t read my blog before, my husband Marco was born and raised in Rome, and I’ve lived in and extensively explored the city and surrounding areas too. For great details on the Eternal City, check out my Rome city guide, Roaming around Roma. If you want to read more about our trip around the world, start here: How to Plan a Trip Around the World.

Nonna Angelina with her home made Ravioli at her home in Abruzzo

After arriving in Rome, we spent a few beautiful days with family out in the Abruzzo countryside to celebrate Easter, and then we hit the city. As we jetted back and forth across Rome to meet friends, catch up with family, and show our nephew a couple of our favorite spots; I was reminded of how overwhelming it can be to “fit it all in” on a Rome trip whether it’s your first time visiting, or 500th.  

Rome is one of the most beautiful and enchanting cities on the planet. Its winding cobblestone streets, breathtaking ancient sites, and vibrant buzzing culture attract over 9 million visitors every year. But in a city with countless sites, museums, restaurants, pizzerias and gelaterias to choose from, how do you narrow it down?

The Colosseum

Throughout the summer, I will be doing a series of my top off the beaten path spots, for  BELLA ROMA!!!! I’ve narrowed it down to my “top three” in each of the best Italian Travel categories: Gelato, Pizza, Restaurants, and Sites. This post is all about the GELATO!!! You won’t find any large chain gelateria’s on my list with neon colored artificially flavored treats like the common chain “Blue Ice”. All of these places use top quality ingredients, and traditional methods of making this classic Italian treat that dates back to the 16th century. For my Rome regulars, there may be a few places you recognize and love as well on this list!!! And a big thank you to the friends and flight attendants that have introduced me to some of these amazing spots! 

  • Gelateria dei Gracchi
Delicious assortment of creative and classic flavors at Gelateria Dei Gracchi

This simple, unassuming spot is tucked away in the posh residential neighborhood of Prati. With great shopping, wonderful restaurants, and proximity to the Vatican and the historic center of Rome, this is one of my favorite neighborhoods to stay in. On Via Dei Gracchi you will fine a small local Gelateria with gourmet, home made frozen goodness made from seasonal and local ingredients. The flavors will change with the fresh fruits, nuts and ingredients of the season, so it’s a great place to go back to again and again.  Don’t forget to ask for “doppio panna” in your cone which means they will put their fresh made whipped cream both on the bottom and the top of your gelato leaving a wonderful surprise at the bottom of your cone! Lactose and Gluten free options are available too!

I found this place randomly on a layover one day, and later came to find out it’s one of my local friends favorite spots. Try seasonal specialties like “pine” flavor, “toasted orange” or “prickly pear”. My absolute favorites here are the almond and pistachio flavors! My husband loves the classic Italian “zabaione” which is a traditional Italian flavor of egg yolks and marsala wine. This quality, small batch, gelateria now has four popular locations in Rome. But this is the original, and my favorite: Gelateria Dei Gracchi

  • Giolitti
The famous Giolitti, a Roman favorite

Authentic, classic, and a Roman favorite since 1900, Giolitti was a place my husband grew up going to for gelato.  He was the first one to bring me here and I’ve been in love ever since. Ive come back with many crew members on layovers, as this tends to be a favorite spot for anyone familiar with the city. You will find hand made gelato with natural ingredients, gourmet desserts, and modern creations (see olympic cup and ice cream stick) in a beautifully Roman cafe. My all time favorite flavor here is the “cassata siciliana” (based on a traditional Sicilian cake with ricotta cream, candied fruits, and pistachio/almond marzipan). This Gelateria is the one to go to on your stroll through the center of the city. It is centrally located, right up the street from Galleria Alberto Sordi and Parliment, just a short walk from both the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.

Get a table and relax inside, escaping the summer heat, and try some pastries and coffee to go with your gelato! They stay open until Midnight, so this is always one of our favorite late night stops after dinner! At night, we love to take our gelato and enjoy a beautiful 7 min stroll from Giolitti to the Trevi fountain which is a sight to see all lit up late at night without the crowds of tourists around!

The Trevi Fountain at night… no crowds!!!!
  • Gelateria Tris, Frascati
Piazza San Pietro, Frascati

Now this isn’t in the center of Rome, but it’s just too good to leave off the list! Frascati is one of the “Castelli Romani” or Roman Castle towns, just a short 25 min train or car ride from the center of the city (without traffic). We head to Frascati all the time on those hot summer nights to escape the heat and grab one of the best gelatos on the planet!!! If you’re in Rome during the hot and humid summer months, take a 1/2 day trip up to Frascati on the regional train for some fresh air, wine tasting, and gelato! Don’t forget to eat lunch or dinner at a traditional Roman “fraschetta” while in Frascati! A “fraschetta” is like an old school tavern with traditional roman food, local wine by the carafe, and fresh cured meats, cheese, and olives that you can sample to your hearts content, and pay for by weight. You’ll thank me later!

Pistachio Gelato at its finest

From the train station, walk up the stairs towards the center of town, and follow the signs for the Frascati Cathedral, or Duomo. You’ll find Gelateria Tris just across the Piazza San Pietro from the Duomo. My absolute favorite flavor here is “Cocco”, coconut. It is a coconut lovers dream, filled with fresh, shredded coconut pieces!! Don’t be surprised if there is a line out the door, while this location is off the beaten path, it is still VERY popular with all the locals! Honestly, a trip to Frascati is worth is just to sample the deliciousness at Gelateria Tris. Enjoy your gelato with a great view of the duomo, or take a walk down to one of the many viewpoints to take in the panoramic views over Rome.

I hope you enjoy one or all of our favorite gelato spots in the city!!! If you end up going to any of them be sure to tag me in your photos on Instagram @kimmieflies!!! As always, please feel free to comment below with your own favorite Gelateria in Rome! I’ll be sure to try them out on my next trip!!!

My nephew Matteo enjoying a Lemon Granita on a hot summer day
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