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Gelato and Shopping in Rome

By on Jul 30, 2010No Comment
Gelato and Shopping in Rome

Gelato is the new Gucci. At least for me it is, since you can usually find me licking a cone of my sorrows away after a wishful afternoon of window shopping at the Gooch on Rome’s Via dei Condotti. However, unlike the pricey Italian luxury brands I covet, a cone of gelato won’t burn a hole in your wallet and every gelateria will always have your size in stock.

Gelato is just as much a part of the Italian cucina as pasta or pizza, a cool and sweet treat whipped up with cream, milk, eggs, sugar and other various flavoring ingredients like nuts or fruit that make it the perfect dolce day or night. Flavors are all over the map, with some of the most popular being pistachio, lemon, bacio (chocolate, hazelnut and more chocolate), tiramisu, stracciatella (chocolate chip), and zabaione, a take off of a popular custard-like Italian desert made with sweet wine, eggs, and sugar. And the best thing about gelato aside from its silky, palette-rousing taste? Less sugar and less fat than in American ice cream. Stick that in your waffle cone and lick it.

Gelato is ubiquitous in Rome, which means finding the good stuff is often serendipitous. I’ve indulged in my fair share of gelato since moving back to the Italian capital for the summer and, although I’m a Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough kind of girl at heart, there are a few delish spots along my shopping routes that make me feel just as special as Gucci (not really, but this is what I tell myself in order to make it through the long, Gucciless nights):

Café Portofino (Via Cola di Rienzo, 116) is my new favorite gelateria in the posh and bustling Prati district. A big bonus to the location is that Cola di Rienzo is lined with shopping that won’t break the bank like Max Mara, Brandy Melville, Stefanel, Diesel, The Body Shop and Zara Home. Cafe Portofino is the perfect place to drop your loot and put your feet up after a rough day running the plastic. Try one of their chocolate confections – they’re orgasmic!

Rome’s city center is crawling with notoriously bad gelato and after working up a sweat marathon shopping at the boutiques around the Pantheon, it’s easy to be tempted into grabbing a cone from the first gelateria you see. Don’t do it! Instead, head for Gelateria dellla Palma (Via della Maddelena 20/23), although be warned that picking a flavor is like being forced to choose your favorite color from a box of 64 Crayolas. The selection of gusti, or flavors, is dizzying and includes everything from whipped mousses to soy gelato.  If you’ve been dying to try every gelato flavor under the sun (they’re more than happy to let you sample the goods before you buy) and take an air conditioned time-out (AC isn’t as omnipresent as gelato in Rome, so get it while the getting is good!), della Palma’s your spot.

Turn a blind eye to all the gelaterie on Rome’s over-hyped shopping street Via del Corso and head for Giolitti (Via Uffici del Vicaor 40) just off of Piazza Montecitorio. It’s the bees-knees gelato for locals and tourists alike, which explains the perpetual mob scene inside (and an overpriced mob scene if you opt for a table). If you don’t mind getting caught in the great gelato crush of sweet-toothers bullying their way to the front of the mob (the concept of waiting patiently in line doesn’t exist in Italy), Giolitti has your poison. Since this isn’t exactly a tranquil rest stop, plan on grabbing your gelato to go.

Crammed with wall-to-wall bodies and no air conditioning past the entrance lobby, the Vatican Museums become an inferno in the summertime. Thankfully, The Old Bridge Gelateria (Viale dei Bastioni di Michelangelo, 5) is a heaven-sent pit-stop just across the way. A cool pick-me-up if you’re trapped in a long line waiting to see the museums or a welcome reward after bravely relinquishing your personal space and sanity in the name of seeing Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the heaping portions at Old Bridge are always what the doctor ordered. Since Old Bridge is more of a gelato stand than an actual café, prepare to take your gelato for a passeggiata and hit some of the trendy, affordable shoe and clothing shops on the nearby Via Ottaviano and Via Giulio Cesare.

If you’ve been to Rome, I’d love to know where some of your favorite gelato is in the city. Share the love!

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