RMEGuide

The Best Gelato In Rome

Did you really visit Rome if you didn't eat gelato at least once a day?
Cone of gelato at FataMorgana

photo credit: Saghar Setareh

If Rome runs on espresso, then it luxuriously strolls with gelato. According to some legends, Italian gelato is as old as Ancient Rome—Emperor Nero loved his little frozen treats, and would send his minions to the mountains to collect snow, which was later flavored with honey, wine, and various fruits. 

Today, the number of gelato shops rivals that of churches, but it’s important to choose wisely. The best gelato is served at a slightly higher temperature than typical ice cream, leading to a faster melt, so steer clear of places flaunting towering displays—it’s a sign that what they're selling may be whipped with air or packed with stabilizers. Our last rule: avoid bright colors. Gelato should mirror the hue of its ingredients, so if the pistachio glows brighter than the Pantheon at midnight, beware.


THE SPOTS

photo credit: Saghar Setareh

Dessert

Pantheon

$$$$Perfect For:Literally EveryoneCoffee & A Light BiteQuick Eats
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Giolitti is a classic gelateria nearby the Pantheon that’s been around since 1900. It’s impossible to miss—the shop’s bright green signage practically takes over the block—and their variety of flavors nearly match the number of years they’ve been in business. If picking between tiramisu and Indian fig feels like an impossible task, follow our lead and go with the creamy pistachio paired with the boozy zabaione. And if it’s a two-treat kind of day, snag one of their cookies or pastries on the way out. 

Trastevere is home to some of the best bars and restaurants in Rome. After a few drinks at Bar San Calisto, wander over to Fiordiluna for a scoop or two. The creamy mascarpone might surprise you with bits of chocolate and biscuit, and the pistachio packs a wonderfully nutty crunch. The classic yogurt flavor, meanwhile, could easily put your hometown froyo spot out of business. And if you still need to buy a souvenir for the person watching your dog at home, their homemade jams are easy to slip into your checked bag.

You'll appreciate the effort Neve di Latte takes to source their ingredients—like their milk for example, which comes from Upper Bavaria, a German region that's known for its dairy. Go to town on the Sicilian ricotta that’s lightly layered with hints of candied orange and chocolate, and don’t miss the chestnut cream when it’s in season. Other memorable flavors include a chocolate-and-nut-spiked sour cherry, plus tangy fruit sorbets.

Gelateria Fassi—also known as the Palazzo del Freddo, or Frozen Palace—is Rome’s oldest gelato establishment. It’s been open since 1880, and has survived wars, pandemics, and Italian bureaucracy. The shop practically doubles as a Fassi family museum, with portraits and newspaper clippings covering the walls. Get a scoop of the zabaione gelato (which is kind of like a frozen eggnog) and the vanilla bourbon topped with teeny-tiny bits of toasted peanuts and cocoa nibs. Their famous persimmon flavor is only available in the fall, so keep a lookout.

If you somehow didn’t eat enough dessert at Roscioli, make your way around the corner to Fatamorgana. In addition to the classics, their rotating menu is full of flavors like peaches and wine, and banana cream with crunchy sesame. And while you really can’t go wrong with anything here, you should dive straight into the bronte pistachio or the pitch-perfect milk, mint, and chocolate flavor—the freshness of the mint is more powerful than a Listerine strip.

Otaleg (which, yes, is gelato spelled backwards) was founded by an employee of one of Rome’s first gourmet gelato-makers. It’s located in between two of Trastevere’s main piazzas, which we recommend hitting once you have your cup or cone in hand. Try the pistachio paired with a scoop of rich dark chocolate, or their silky stracciatella. Also good to know: the fruit flavors change with the season, and are dairy-free.

The flavors at this small gelato shop are creative and refreshing, like ginger and apple, mixed citrus and fresh chili pepper, and one option that’s even made with beer. There are also refrigerator cases for individual portions of desserts like tiramisu and zabaione. Take your cone across the street and peer over the railing to see the spot where Julius Caesar was assassinated—today, it’s filled with lots of lazy, well-cared-for kittens.

Everything this shop in Monti makes is made from entirely raw ingredients, from the cakes to the chocolates to their gelato. (It’s also all gluten- and lactose-free, plus vegan.) Their menu is small, with only 11 different types—but the distilled flavors of nuts like almond and hazelnut with chocolate really shine. If you miss it in Monti, there’s also a second, smaller location next to the Fontana delle Tartarughe.

Sure, Prati is just a 20-minute walk from the Vatican, but the main neighborhood attraction is Gelateria dei Gracchi. The best option here is the ricotta and pear or toasted almond with candied orange—it’s the ultimate blend of subtle sweetness and zesty crunch. And if you need a break from all the milk, go with the vegan pistachio. It’s ultra-creamy, and you won’t even miss the dairy.

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