GELATO

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Gelato makes a good day great, and the quest for the perfect gelato is a delightful hobby — or obsession. I didn’t plan my visit to Rome around gelato, but, come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea.

My most recent pursuit of gelato began when I was at the Spanish Steps. Before lunch. (And your point is … ?)

I thought of the gelato place called 71 Sotto 0 (translates to 71 degrees below zero) and realized that would be a great destination for the next part of my tour of Rome. Our friends who live in the Rome found it and swear that it’s hands-down the best in the city. It’s a gelateria that looks like all the others, but … mamma mia, the gelato is delicious. For those keeping track of such things, the address is Via Monte Brianzo, 71.

I got to walk all the way down the oh-so-elegant Via Condotti. Along the way, I took a peek into a little church on the left called Santa Trinita. It was interesting enough to distract me from my quest, if only briefly. As Italian churches go, it’s very small. So small, in fact, that it’s essentially just the dome. So I entered right into the rotunda area, “did” Santa Trinita very quickly, and was back on the prowl for gelato in no time. I returned to the street, which changed names and jogged a little, requiring me to bear left at one point (again, for those keep track of such things). Via Monte Brianzo is essentially the far end of Condotti near where it would run into the river. 71 Sotto 0 is on the left, and I could see the ice cream cone hanging over the door from a block away.

But the sign on the door read chuiso (closed). I was out of luck.

Mightily disappointed, but not dissuaded, I soldiered onward toward San Crispino, another favorite gelateria. Paul reminds me that it’s named after a saint who is no longer thought to have existed. Nonetheless, eating San Crispino gelato is a religious experience.

It’s a pretty slick operation – there are several locations, New York Times reviews, long lines in the summer, and a great reputation. The gelato is delicious and distinguished by particularly innovative flavors (e.g., ginger). The honey flavored gelato made me so curious that I had to ask for a taste (“posso assaggiare” — “may I taste…?”). I went with the apple and cinnamon and wasn’t disappointed.

If San Crispino had not panned out (and once I regained my composure after a second closed gelateria, that is), I would have had other good options: Giolitti, the gelato institution of Rome or Blue Ice. Blue Ice is a chain with stores all over Rome; we often find ourselves at the one near Campo de Fiori.

Thank heavens (or the fictional Saint Crispin), San Crispino’s was there for me. Sated with gelato, it was time to look for lunch. Again, I ask … what’s your point?

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