When most people visit Rome, they are anxious to see the Coliseum or Trevi Fountain. Others brave the long lines to catch a glimpse at the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo. While these are great sites that I have had the privilege to see twice, my first love in Rome is Stracciatella gelato from Giolitti.
People will argue that 1) gelato is the same as ice cream or 2) all gelato tastes the same. I would be willing to have a strongly worded, academic debate (because I would get beat in almost any fight) over the reasons why gelato is superior to ice cream.
More specifically, all gelato is not created equal. Just like you can get a burger from almost anyone in the States, gelato is readily available from street vendors or small shops all over Italy. What makes Giolitti different is the freshness and environment.
All of the gelato is made in store using the same processes that have made it sought after for over 100 years. The taste is delightful, but fighting through the crowds to an announce your order to the waiting Italian man dressed like a soda jerk from 1960 is where the real fun starts.
If you have ordered a Philly Cheesesteak from Geno's Steaks in Philadelphia, you know you must be ready to instantly recite your order using their terminology. The same is true at Giolitti. They have their own lingo. Some people would call it Italian, to me it was just one more step between me and delicious gelato.
On my first trip to Rome in 2008, I visited this shop 7 times in 3 days. On this round, it was limited to 2 visits due to time constraints. If I could set up my laptop outside and eat gelato all day, I think I would be perfectly content with life.
Next time you are in Rome, you must stop by to taste the difference. It is located between the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. Your time in Rome will not be the same without a cone full of gelato from here.