Fact: You can never get enough of gelato in Rome. That's a very good thing, since these days, there seems to be a new gelateria opening every couple of months. And not just a new gelateria. But a new real gelateria.
What's a "real" gelateria, you say? Here's the second (more sobering) fact: The vast majority of Rome's gelato shops spoon out industrialized junk, whipped up from a lovely conglomeration of synthetic thickeners, chemical flavors, and air. (Remember, friends, real gelato should not look like a cloud, and it should not be brighter than your sunburned face after a Roman holiday... coughBlueIcecoughDellaPalmacough). And for years, those who wanted top-notch, non-fake gelato had to seek it out, especially in the center, where such shops were few and far between.
Thankfully, recent openings are making that less the case. My newest favorite, in fact, is smack in the middle of the centro storico: Carapina.
The shop opened in May around the corner from Campo dei Fiori. Originally from Florence, where it earned a reputation as one of the finest gelaterias in the country, it doesn't make the gelato in Florence and then ship it to Rome (like many others do). Instead, the gelato is made in fresh, small batches right here in the store. There are no preservatives, no synthetic chemicals, and no thickeners.
And, of course, flavors change depending on what fruit and other ingredients are in season. Result: gelato that bursts with flavor. On a recent visit, I found myself blurting out, just like a kid from a Willy Wonka factory tour, "The persimmon tastes just like persimmon! The chestnut tastes like chestnut!" Which is, of course, how it should be — but often isn't.
How does Carapina compare with my other favorite gelato shop in Rome? Carapina gelato isn't as creamy and decadent-tasting as Come il Latte. For most people, the Carapina shop is also more centrally located. The way I see it, those two things together just mean that when I want to really indulge, I'll head to Come il Latte. But for an everyday more frequent snack, you can find me at Carapina.
Bonus: Unlike most other gelaterias, Carapina serves coffee and has a few small tables, too.
Carapina is located at Via dei Chiavari 37, next to the Roscioli bakery.