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Rome's famous gelato finds new ways to tease the tastebuds

Italian capital is heaven for ice-cream lovers

17 April, 16:00
Rome's famous gelato finds new ways to tease the tastebuds

(ANSA) - Rome - Dripping with chocolate, covered with strawberries or laden with cream, there is a gelato to tease the tastebuds of every ice-cream lover. It's no surprise to learn that thousands of foreign tourists who come to Rome take time out to scour the cobbled streets of the Italian capital in search of the perfect gelato.

Historians seem to be divided about whether it was the Greeks or the Egyptians who pioneered the icy delight. Some even claim that Alexander the Great had holes dug along his ancient battle routes that were then filled with snow and fruity flavours, while the Chinese are rumoured to have had their own version of flavoured ice.

But most experts agree that the Italians have perfected the art of gelato making and have exported their expertise around the world. Giolitti (Via degli Uffici del Vicario 40, near the Pantheon) was established in 1890 by Giuseppe and Bernadina Giolitti and is a Rome institution. After three generations it still delivers the same authentic flavours today and attracts thousands of children and adults.

Among the gelateria's legendary ice creams is the Coppa Giolitti, a sinful blend of chocolate ice-cream, custard and chilled zabaglione, all topped off with cream and hazelnut shavings. The more eclectic customers can be seen mixing classical flavours such as rich stracciatella with a scoop of lemon or chocolate combined with strawberry.

Across town exhausted tourists leave the Vatican Museum and line up outside The Old Bridge (Viale dei Bastioni di Michelangelo 5, just off Piazza Risorgimento). This tiny gelateria makes truly delicious ice-cream, dishes out generous, creamy portions of caramel, nutella, coffee, pine nuts and refreshing fruit - all for less than two euros. And, since it's made with cream and not milk, it won't even drip.

The highly-recommended La Gelateria dei Gracchi (in Via dei Gracchi 272), offers luscious combinations such as peach and fig, apple and cinnamon as well as pear and ricotta cheese. An alternative to the traditional aperitivo is their popular Cubano, made with rum and chocolate ice-cream. The popular Italian food guide, Gambero Rosso, recommends La Gelateria del Gracchi as well as Il Gelato (Viale dell'Aeronautica 105) in the EUR distric in the south of Rome.

The latter offers over 100 flavours, even catering for those with more exotic taste, offering eccentric tastes such as celery and peperoni or an espresso and sambuca ice cream. In the trendy San Crispino (Via della Panetteria 42) back in Rome's historic centre tourists will find no cones as the ice cream is always served in coppe, or cups. Service isn't always with a smile and it's a little more expensive, but it is a still a legend and prides itself on its quality and home-made ingredients. Established in the 1800s, it is said that the preparation of the ice-cream still follows the secret traditions of an ancient recipe once popular with the 16th-century Italian noblewoman and French Queen consort, Catherine de Medici.

Al Settimo Gelo (Via Vodice 21, close to Piazza Mazzini) produces a range of exceptional ice creams and sorbets. Sorbet flavours include chestnut, date, mandarin and even hibiscus flavours. Apart from their popular tiramisu and a Sicilian cream gelati, this gelateria creates chilli chocolate, bergamot, ginger and cardamom flavours and an unusual Iranian ice-cream, made with saffron and rose water. The Gelateria Artigianale Corona (Largo Arenula 27, Piazza Argentina) is also regarded as an ice-cream innovator serving refreshing scoops of lemon and basil and even biscuit flavours.

For a taste of Brazil, you can try their Pitanga, made from bittersweet Brazilian fruits or their dark chocolate gelato, made from Amazon nuts.

Other popular gelaterie include: Vice (Via Gregorio VII 385) specialising in ricotta, orange and chocolate mixes and Fata Morgana (Via Lago di Lesina 9) with its irresistible Muller Thurgau wild strawberry and Kentucky chocolate (sprinkled with coffee, liquorice and tobacco) flavours. According to the Istituto del Gelato, a staggering 95% of Italians have a soft spot for their national dessert, and 56% confess they eat it at least once a week in summer. In 2010 some 589 million portions of take-away cups and cones were sold throughout Italy (an average of around 4 kilos of ice cream for every Italian), with more ice-cream sold on Sunday than any other day of the week