Ok so admittedly, I didn’t try EVERY gelato shop in Rome.  I tried the supposed “top” ones, the most notorious, and to me there was a hands-down winner:



Yeah, yeah, people will argue.  I’ve seen reviews that say its overpriced or overcrowded or that the people are rude.  I beg to differ.

Let me get this out of the way: I LOVE ice cream.  Like, LOVE it.  I could eat it for every meal (that is, until I go into sugar coma… but that could take a couple days).  I have gelato almost every day in Italy, sometimes twice a day, and being a bit cheap frugal, I take note of what I’m getting for my money.  Everything plays into my assessment: the product, the venue, the experience, the price, the overall good-vibes I get from the place.


Giolitti is on via Uffici del Vicario, pretty close to the Pantheon and not too far from Piazza Navona, either.  I was having dinner nearby and knew one of the most-famous gelato shops was nearby, so went looking.

Rounding the corner of Via della Stelletta, the neon lights of Giolitti suddenly illuminate the night.  The streets that were empty now hold a bustle as gelato-eating patrons walk out and excited patrons walk in.  Founded in 1890 and opening this location not soon thereafter, Giolitti is still a family business.  In fact, I’ve heard that they’ve rejected offers from big dairy companies to buy their secret gelato formulas on numerous occasions.


When you walk in the shop, in front of you is a pastry window, then further in is the gelato.  So many flavors! To the left of the Gelato is a dining room, though I never sat down, preferring to stroll through the crisp Rome night, gelato in hand.  I would imagine during a warm day the dining room is fairly packed, though.

This is important – and was a bit confusing to me at first: at a lot of cafes or gelaterias in Italy, you pay first then bring your receipt to the counter to order.  At Giolitti, the cashier is right as you come in, against the front wall.  You order (due gusti cono = two flavor cone), pay, then take your receipt up to the gelato counter.

Sometimes this can be a bit tough.  There was no distinguishable line, just a bunch of people bunched up against the counter, like it was a bar, everyone trying to get the bartender’s attention.  OK, I can play that game.

At the end of your order – and please, when you do try to get his attention, be ready with your order and receipt – he’ll ask “con panna?” (with cream?).  If you said yes, he’d dollop a large helping of whipped cream on top with a spatula.  I admit I never tried it, but now wish I had.


I tried some of the other “renowned” gelato shops in Rome but repeatedly thought that Giolitti gave you more for your money and had simply better gelato.  San Crispino, the gelato shop featured in “Eat Pray Love” by the Trevi Fountain, was ridiculously expensive, the portion was small and I didn’t get that the gelato was any better than anywhere else.

Some thing contrasting flavors go better together, some think similar flavors are just the right compliment.  This was my favorite: a dark chocolate fondant, fruits of the woods (“bosco”) and cream.  Mmmm so perfect.  What’s your favorite??




About the author


Turning my obsession with Italy into something I can pretend is constructive. Italy travel tips and stories for everyone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *