Out of the blue my youngest resolutely proclaimed from the other room, “Mom when I get older I am going to Rome.” Having grabbed my attention, I called back, “Well certainly you can, but why do you say that?” “Well, mom if this is anything like the granite and gelato served in Rome..I’m there!” No surprise as I walked into the kitchen to spy him sitting and consuming a cup of lemon Italian ice. “Ah, Thomas but it is oh so much better in Rome!”
From the very first day of our arrival in Rome, my friends and I struck out on a pilgrimage of a different sort…to taste test as many different places and varieties of these frozen delicacies as possible during our stay. It became almost an adventure, asking cabbies and locals for their own personal favorites and to discover new ones as well. Our first find, within walking distance of our hotel, was to be our evening stop regardless of whether we had found another gelateria earlier that day.
Using locally sourced ingredients, natural fruits and fresh cream it is no wonder why these taste so remarkably different from what we usually purchase under the title of gelato here in the States. Traditional flavors are there for the less daring and yet there are an abundance of unique flavor combinations. Of these distinctive flavor combinations my favorites were cinnamon-ginger, lemongrass-rosemary, and kiwi- mango. Yet, I could try a new flavor twice a day and go years before I had even come close to tasting them all!
Let loose on this eternal city, after visiting the Vatican, we found ourselves at the Ponte Sant’ Angelo or the Bridge of Angles near Castel Sant’ Angelo (Hadrian’s Tomb). Peter and Paul guard either end of the bridge , with angels depicting scenes in the Passion of Christ along the way. Artists create and sell their inspirations of the day while musicians play hoping their gift will be well received. Down below, tents dot the Tiber River awaiting the sun’s departure and the evening festivities to begin. With little clue as to where we were really headed, my friends and I began following a lead on a favorite gelateria mentioned only as Angelo’s . When it became apparent that we weren’t finding this on our own, we began asking locals, and tourists alike. Suddenly coming upon a piazza popular for music and performers, we recognized that even if we never found it, that it was certainly a memory in the making. Finally, approaching closing time we came upon a vigili urbani (municipal police officer ) informing us that what we were looking for wasn’t a place at all. Rather, we had been given the name of the owner of a gelateria, the man behind the counter who he knew quite well. So it is that in Rome, the destination is is never the full story, but the journey is far more priceless.
Now, while I contemplated a Nutella gelato several times, it remained only a thought- choosing instead to have it smothered on fresh baked bread with my morning cappuccinos dusted with cocoa. (Yes, I did use the plural!) Grazie è meraviglioso..I echoed each day as completed my morning reflection time, and garnnered strength for the day ahead. “Cafe Americana? No, no grazie..cappuchino per favore!”