They’re the crème de la crème, the kings, nay the titans of the Italian ice cream world. They’re in every guide book and they’re arguably the two most famous gelaterias in Rome. But which deserves the title of Best in Rome? Rachel’s Rome Writings sets out to answer this tough yet delicious question once and for all…
Best for… Flavours
This is perhaps the toughest question of all, so let’s get it over with first. Giolitti’s has a vast number of flavours (indeed, so many that the choice is agonising), but San Crispino’s are far more unusual. My all-time favourite is caramel and meringue, but there are far more adventurous flavours and I guess it all depends on the boldness of your palette. Purely because it has ice cream with meringue in, however, I’m going to say San Crispino comes out on top in this category.
The Verdict: San Crispino
Best for… Uniqueness
My initial thought was that this one is a clear win for San Crispino’s, which defies the normal convention of displaying an array of colourful ice creams in favour of stylish silver vats, which shield their delectable contents from the eyes of gawping tourists. Furthermore, they don’t even do cones – all their ice cream is served in cups of varying sizes, as though the cone would sully the flavours of the ice cream, which, as mentioned above, are rather unusual.
However, if we’re talking objectively about uniqueness, there may be a possible stumbling block for San Crispino because it actually has, I’m told, several branches (shock, horror! A franchise!), including one at Fiumicino Airport, though I have never seen this. The only one I’ve ever been to is on the Via della Panetteria, round the corner from the Trevi Fountain. On the other hand, Giolitti’s is, as far as I know, a one-off. Which technically makes it more unique, but it doesn’t have silver vats or particularly weird flavours.
The Verdict: San Crispino still wins.
Best for… Avoiding Queues
A slight advantage to San Crispino here in my experience, though only slight. Giolitti’s always seems more chaotic thanks to the system by which you pay for your ice cream, ordering it from a separate counter before taking your ticket over and selecting your flavour. This inevitably causes confusion among those not in the know, and the experience of obtaining ice cream from this esteemed establishment can be stressful. Of course, with the recent press coverage enjoyed by San Crispino’s thanks to the Eat, Pray, Love movie, that advantage could be rendered obsolete.
The Verdict: San Crispino
Best for… Price
Definitely a win for Giolitti’s on price. The tiniest cup of ice cream from San Crispino will set you back €2.30, whereas roughly the same price will get you a huge cone at Giolitti’s. Of course, quality rather than quantity is the key, and when it’s very hot the last thing you want is a massive cone (deceptively called ‘Piccolo’), which results in ice cream melting down your hands and arms.
The Verdict: quantity-wise, you get more for your money at Giolitti’s.
Best for… While You Eat
San Crispino – the Via della Panetteria branch, at any rate, has the obvious advantage of a location just round the corner from the Trevi Fountain, giving you an unparalleled view while you savour their unique flavours. Giolitti’s is round the corner from the Column of Marcus Aurelius, the bloodthirsty scenes of which do little to enhance the appetite. However, Giolitti’s does have the posh café atmosphere complete with seats, while San Crispino has no seating and people are often seen loitering around the door to eat their ice creams. So Giolitti’s gets this one.
The Verdict: Giolitti’s
And the winner is…
Well, it looks as though overall, San Crispino has emerged triumphant from this incredibly unscientific battle of the gelaterias, though both clearly have strong merits. What’s YOUR view on which is better? Or do you think that neither deserve the title of Best Gelateria in Rome? Perhaps you prefer the quaint Palazzo del Freddo, or another gelateria entirely? Do leave a comment and let me know what you think, as I’m always open to recommendations!
San Crispino gets my vote too…I love that honey-flavoured San Crispino special they do!
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If you plan to visit the seaside of Rome you cannot miss the cozy atmosphere of the “Fishermen village” just close to the Lido di Castel Fusano metro station and taste the delicious ice-creams served at “Carletto’s”, quite in the middle of the small village. Ice creams are kept in metal bowls like at S.Crispino but prices start at Euros 2 or 18 Euros for a kilo of product and wonderful tastes like liquorice, white coffee, melon or chocolate might make you wander the beautiful village in delight. Of course I am not connected with Carletto in any way, but for being a greedy appreciator of his ice-creams. If you go there just say Fabrizio sent you there.
Thanks for the great tip, Fabrizio!