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Gelateria la Romana: How to Eat Ice Cream in Italy

To call gelato, ice cream, is like calling a diamond, cubic zirconia. It looks the same, but one is clearly an imitator. And a poor one at that. Ask anyone who’s had the grand privilege of slurping up a creamy gelato on a hot summer day in Italy, and they’ll tell you the same.

I can’t say that I’ve tried gelato from every single shop in Italy (despite my best efforts) but make no mistake about it, all gelati are not created equal. It seems sacrilegious to even think it, but I’ve even had some truly bad gelato in the Beautiful Country. *Shudder.

A “bad” gelato in Cerveteri – sadly, I couldn’t finish it and had to throw it out ๐Ÿ™

Mostly though, an average cone in Italy will put North America’s best to shame. Which is good or bad, I guess. Depending on where you live.

And then there are the scoops that are so beyond the realm of what we call mere “ice cream,” that they can only be described as heavenly.

Which brings me to the Gelateria la Romana.

The first thing I noticed about this place was the never-ending lines of mostly Romans, that snaked out of the door and onto the road, at all times of the night and day. The lines were constant and unbroken, in a way that was frankly, a bit surreal.

When we realized that all these locals were standing in line for gelato, boy oh boy, we joined that line just as fast as we could. And were rewarded with the most exquisite scoop of creamy goodness I’ve ever tasted.


At a gelato shop like La Romana, getting your ice cream fix can feel like fighting for a bartender’s attention in the hottest nightclub in town, but the process is actually quite streamlined. You simply line up at the cash, order your gelato (size or number of scoops), and then take your receipt to the gelato bar. You tell the gelataio whether you’d like a coppa (cup) or cono (cone), and which flavours you’d like. Typically, the smallest size (piccolo) costs around 2 euros and includes 2 different gusti (flavours).

If it’s your first time trying gelato (lucky you), I’d start with a few tried and true classics, before moving onto some of the more interesting choices.

For a nutty gelato, you can’t go wrong with a Pesto di Pistacchio or Pesto di Nocciola Trilobata (hazelnut). I always have at least ONE of these on every gelato I eat. For a fruity gelato, try the Croccante all’Amarena, which is comprised of whole black cherries mixed with crunchy bits of hazelnut, meringue and chocolate. And finally, for a classic combo, go for the Stracciatella Grand Cru. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s simplicity makes it boring. It’s anything but vanilla.


Much to Agri’s horror, I always choose a cup when ordering my gelato, because it melts much faster than I can eat it. What can I say, I don’t devour 2 huge scoops of gelato in 2 bites, like someone else we know (not mentioning any names). And seriously, what a waste of good gelato.

Not sure why I have this face… probably cuz I can’t believe I actually chose a cone.

Gelateria la Romana though is the ONLY place where I’ll choose a cone, and risk all that gooeyness dripping down my fingers and arms. Simply because when you choose a cone, it comes coated on the inside with either pistachio, dark chocolate or white chocolate.

To make your decision even more complicated, you can also choose from a number of different panna, (whip creams) to top your gelato with, including regular, zambione or chocolate.


Established in 1947, in the historic centre of Rimini, La Romana was named after the founder’s daughter, and offers gelati that are created using traditional recipes and high quality ingredients like organic milk, fresh cream and seasonal fruit.

On my 500th visit to Gelateria La Romana

We visited the Via Venti Settembre 60 location in Rome almost every day but there are La Romana shops all over Italy, in Spain, and even in a few cities in Germany.

Have you tasted gelato in Italy? Do you have a favourite shop? What’s your favourite flavour?

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35 Comments Post a comment
  1. Haha, like you I will definitely choose cup over cone, though if the cone is coated in side, I will think twice. I am the kind who likes to eat my ice-cream slowly and enjoy every single bite of it ๐Ÿ˜€ Agri sounds like he can handle many, many, many scoop ice-cream cone very well – the taller the cone, the better for him ๐Ÿ˜€

    May 5, 2017
    • The pace of Agri’s ice cream eating is something to be observed. I’m amazed by how fast it disappears, but it’s also sad, cuz as soon as he’s done his, he starts in on mine! I have to mount a serious defence, otherwise I hardly get to eat any at all!!! :p

      May 7, 2017
      • If there is an ice-cream eating competition, Agri should enter. He would win hands down ๐Ÿ˜€ I hope you always get enough ice-cream to eat yourself ๐Ÿ˜€

        May 7, 2017
        • Unfortunately no… I’m lucky to get a few bites. Sometimes he even starts on mine before he takes a bit of his own. >.<

          May 8, 2017
  2. Oh man!! I want to go to Italy and eat all the gelato.

    May 6, 2017
  3. You’re going to hate me twice. First, I think your lead-off sentence is saying the opposite of what you mean! To me, it reads that gelato is a poor substitute for ice cream, just as cubic zirconia is a poor man’s diamond. And I was going to agree, which will annoy you even more! I love ice cream, and I find gelato too … slimy, I guess. Fortunately, we align well on point #3: cups over cones any day! Loved your post in spite of my own preferences! ๐Ÿ™‚

    May 6, 2017
    • Thanks for pointing that out! Agri noticed that too, and was supposed to change it for me before I hit publish (but I guess he did not). Corrected now. But I’m afraid I can not thank you for you second comment. Ice cream better than gelato!?! Gelato…slimy!!??? Impossible!! I must admit though that I do crave a pralines and cream ice cream over gelato sometimes – it truly is different.

      May 7, 2017
      • I knew that would be heresy … sorry!! Just think of me as weird. ๐Ÿ™‚

        May 7, 2017
  4. Oh my goodness, you have me craving a good cup of gelato! When I lived in Florence my friend and I had a go to spot and I swear it was the best dessert I have ever had. I always chose cup over cone too!

    May 6, 2017
    • Lived in Italy? That must’ve been such an amazing experience. And Florence? Basically the most beautiful place ever. Gelato never gets old, does it? And yes, cup is the way to go… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      May 7, 2017
  5. I think we ate gelato in Italy just about every day. How could you not! In Rome our hotel was conveniently kitty-corner to the oldest gelateria in the city. Heaven. And we found another slice of heaven in San Gimignano. Ice cream is our greatest weakness – for both of us so we seek it out. We had bad gelato once in Italy, but the rest of the time it was sublime. In Vancouver there’s an Italian owned and run gelateria with over 200 flavours that compares to anything we had in Italy.

    May 6, 2017
    • We eat gelato everyday that we’re in Italy too. I mean, how can you not!? My mom has a huge weakness for ice cream weakness too, and on our recent trip to Japan, she was eating about 4 scoops of matcha ice cream a day. It was intense. I’ve never had a “gelato” in another country that matches up to anything I’ve had in Italy. You are lucky!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      May 7, 2017
  6. Singular – gelato, plural – gelati – NOTED! Also, what was so wrong about the bad gelato that you didn’t finish?! Spill the beans!

    May 6, 2017
    • You know, I can’t pinpoint exactly what was wrong…just at some point, I’d had enough of it. Most likely culprit, like in any other country, I guess, is artificial flavouring and low quality ingredients…but somehow in Italy, where the food is so fresh and amazing, it stands out so much more when it’s just bad. ๐Ÿ™

      May 7, 2017
  7. Spent a few days in Rome many years – I don’t know how I missed the gelato. Next time!

    May 7, 2017
    • Haha seriously…since there’s a gelato shop on pretty much every other corner. Yup! You’ll def have to go back. ๐Ÿ™‚

      May 8, 2017
  8. This would be paradise for Basil! On our trip to Italy, we barely got to eat a gelato. It was so crazy packed with running from one sight to another. ๐Ÿ™‚

    May 8, 2017
    • Too busy to even stop for gelato?? Ooooh, that is really a crime. But Italy truly is so full of sights, you literally are running from one to the other. Unless you’re like us, and you skip the sights and just eat instead. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      May 8, 2017
      • Haha. We might have had one. I don’t remember. I’m sure Basil would have never given up on the idea of eating Gelato in Italy. You know how persistent he can be. ๐Ÿ™‚

        May 8, 2017
  9. I dug right into the decadent choices when I lived in Italy one summer. Give me nutella and more cioccolata and I’m a happy girl! Pistachio is also a favourite of mine I see popping up more and more in Korea. You lucky duck to be eating your way through Roma – my favourite citta!

    May 8, 2017
    • So many people have commented that they lived in Italy at some point in their lives, and why not? Clearly something I need to do one day too. Somehow I’ve never been a big fan of the chocolatey flavours – too rich or something. Did you know there’s an Old Bridge Gelato location here in Seoul now? It’s the famous one close to the Vatican…curious about whether it’s anywhere close to the real thing or not.

      May 12, 2017
  10. This brings back memories! Gelato in Italy sure is a special thing. It was my first trying gelato and like you said the difference is stark! I wish I had gone to the Gelateria La Romana!

    May 8, 2017
    • The ingredients are essentially the same, right? I really wonder exactly what they do that makes gelato taste so much better than regular ice cream. I’ve tried “gelato” in Canada from Italians who brought old world recipes with them and recreated them, and they even admitted that it was just not the same out of Italy. When asked why, they said – the water and air is different. Well, can’t do anything about that, except go back to Italy I guess. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      May 12, 2017
  11. I mean, there are some ice cream joints from my hometown that are state wide famous. I think I need to get some of this though to really compare… or maybe not compare but just enjoy. Those scoops sure have me lusting after something icy and sweet right now.

    May 8, 2017
    • I’ve already had 3 bingsu this year, which is a new record for me. Somehow I’m craving icy sweetness so much right now. But yeah, there’s no comparison with gelato, and it’s impossible to describe the difference. Like so many things in the world, it’s something you truly have to go and experience yourself.

      May 12, 2017
  12. The first sentence had me CRACKING UP!!! Too true, as a food enthusiast, it always makes me irate when people say that ice cream and gelato are the same thing! I studied in Florence and was a huge huge fan of Grom Gelateria, which luckily has a franchise in NYC! But I never was in Roma long enough to check this place out so saving this spot for next time!

    May 10, 2017
    • There are so many amazing spots for gelato in Italy โ€“ Iโ€™m sure there was probably equally great ones just around the corner from La Romana, but still, those lines. They were truly something to behold. I figure the Romans must know something we donโ€™t? Def gonna check out Grom Gelateria next time weโ€™re in Florence! ๐Ÿ™‚

      June 16, 2017
  13. OMG! I can only dream and drool right now to get another love affair with authentic gelato right now. ๐Ÿ™‚ I cringe seeing “gelato” signs when I’m somewhere else that is not Europe. And it’s hard to tell people and convince them the difference. And yes, I’ve become a pasta and gelato elitist after residing in Italy. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I like the pistachio flavor. Have you heard of the Viagra flavor? ๐Ÿ˜€
    Ow BTW, why is there “ice cream” on the blog title? ๐Ÿ™‚ Hihi. Kidding.

    June 10, 2017
    • So true right? Even here in Seoul, there are so many “authentic gelato” places, it’s depressing, cuz they are nowhere close to the real thing. There’s an Old Bridge here now, opened by the same owner as the one in the Vatican, but I have yet to try it. I guess I’ll have to go and see if it’s anywhere close to the real thing. And um…Viagra??? Rommel… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      June 16, 2017
  14. i think it’s fair to say you could base an entire 6 month trip to Italy on eating Gelato.

    June 15, 2017
  15. Fabi #

    Great post! The pictures had me CRAVING for some gelato. Thanks for sharing.

    June 16, 2017
    • Haha thanks! I always crave gelato…too bad you can only get the real thing when in Italy!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      June 17, 2017

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