I’ve visited the top five gelato shops in Rome (as of the date of this post, based on TripAdvisor rankings), so that you don’t have to. Very generous, I know. To start, they’re all fabulous, and when you’re sampling the best, it gets nit-picky. That being said, here are my thoughts!
1.) L’Arena del Gelato
This is what TripAdvisor deems the number one gelato shop in Rome. This is the only gelato shop located West of the river that made the top five, and is located somewhat near the Vatican, which you likely will visit. This alone makes it a name to write down, as you will surely want a sweet treat after your tour, and if you’re going to splurge on the calories, you might as well make it worth it!
Pro: Good selection of flavours and polite, quick service.
Con: This is also the only shop in the top five that didn’t put a little something extra on top — most offer a cookie, sauce, or whip cream.
Overall: See how nit-picky I have to get here? They’re all good! Make the effort to seek this one out, if you’re going to the Vatican, though.
2.) Gelateria Come il Latte
It uses good quality ingredients, offers warm chocolate drizzled over whip cream on top of each scoop and in our experience, was a hot spot for locals. We went in the evening and there were about 10 people in front of us, all chatting to the shop workers as if they were regulars. The flavours weren’t visible (instead kept in tins with lids on them, which, word on the street means that makes it an even more legit gelato) and listed only in Italian so we just asked for a small cup of something with chocolate in it.
Pro: Obviously delicious. Fresh whip cream is hard to beat.
Con: It was about a 20 minute walk from Trevi Fountain where we are staying, in the direction of the train station (and not much else). We won’t go back strictly based on location.
Overall: Delicious, but too far removed for us to make a repeat visit with an infant.
3.) La Gelateria Frigidarium
This is our favourite in regard to flavours offered. They have a wide variety of options, and nearly all of them have some sort of crunchy mix-in. They also cover each serving with what one TripAdvisor commenter calls “liquid gold” — a white or dark chocolate sauce that hardens into a shell over your gelato. We’ve been here a few times, truth be told. It’s in a convenient location near Campo de Fiori, has a variety of options, and is the least expensive in the top five (coming in at 2 euros for a small, oppose to 2.50 at the others). Their house flavour, Frigidarium, is a vanilla and cookie flavour with swirls of chocolate fudge, and gets you a full cookie jammed into the top as well! Who’s complaining?
Pro: Least expensive, and the full chocolate shell is a fun bonus (not pictured, unfortunately)! If you’re vegan, their dark chocolate is the creamiest dark chocolate option we’ve tried. Also for our vegan friends (or those who prefer fruit flavours), their mango tastes like you’re biting into a fresh mango — it’s fabulous!
Con: This is the only shop we’ve been to that consistently has a line up (of about 30 people in our experience walking by nearly everyday).
Overall: There’s a line up because it’s worth it! Who doesn’t want fun mix-ins, in their gelato?
4.) La Strega Nocciola
Oh wait, you don’t want fun mix-ins? Then this is our tied-for-first-place option. This is hands down the creamiest gelato we have had. Located on a quiet street close to the Spanish Steps it’s a central location (presuming you’ll be going to the Spanish Steps at some point in your trip!), had the very best service we’ve had yet in Rome, offers some neat flavour options (like lavender which tasted exactly like the smell), and is so super creamy. I could have turned around and got a refill. We’ll definitely go to this one again. The flavours that we tried (chocolate, hazelnut, lavender, strawberry and dark chocolate) were all good — no crunchy bits like other shops have, but unbelievably creamy.
Pro: What are they doing to make it so creamy? It’s so delicious! Also, service was unbelievable.
Con: I don’t have one…if you want chunks of things in your gelato this isn’t for you, but you can just crunch up the wafer cookie they put on top and call it close enough!
Overall: This is tied with Frigidarium as the best, in our opinion! Look at your map, find this shop, and make a bee-line!
5.) Gelateria Valentino
Unfortunately for us, this is located about 15 seconds from our front door. Sigh. We have been too often. Just down the way from Trevi Fountain, if you’re going to get gelato at the fountain (which you are, obviously…) make an effort to find this little jem. It’s delicious, the owners are very kind, and for us, the location couldn’t be beat.
Pro: Lots of options, with a fresh little cone on top. Great location, nice owners. They do a good job of recommending flavour combinations, and suggest which order to eat them in, once you pick. Kind of fun! For example, I had dark chocolate and peanut and they said to start with the peanut as the flavour is more gentle in comparison.
Con: The only downside was that the woman said you could only have one flavour for a small cup (the man lets you have two though haha. Again…NITPICKING).
Overall: For me, this is in the same boat as L’Arena del Gelato in that, if you’re going to have a treat near Trevi, put a little effort in and find this shop. Excellent option, and best in the area, but don’t make special trip out of it.
So there it is folks! My top-five round up. Hopefully I saved you some calories so you can go straight for the good stuff when you next visit Rome!
Until next time,