Wednesday, April 7, 2010

37 means off-colour, 38 means off work

If a Roman says he has a 38, you could be forgiven for thinking he’s about to stick a pistol into your ribs and make off with your Fendi clutch bag. In fact, he’s probably letting you know he’s about to cancel on you; meeting, lesson, meal, date, he won’t be coming because he has “la febbre”, a fever which adult Romans succumb to on average once every three months.  A fever which I, by comparison, seem to be  immune to. This could be because unlike Romans I don’t employ a thermometre as regularly as a toothbrush, or because the hardworking Briton still stowed away inside me is resisting the ethos of 37 means off-colour and 38 means off work. 

This month will be a particularly challenging one for Romans, healthwise, as “Cambio di Stagione”, the change of season approaches. It’s puzzling to observe how Roman health falters when the change is from mild winter to balmy spring but in the weeks to come, the incidence of hypochondra will skyrocket. Many a reception and phone will go unmanned as "Cambio di Stagione" will be blamed for causing more chaos than the "wrong snow" does in England. Phantom sore throats will be wrapped up in woolly scarves tighter than Egyptian mummies, by Italian mummies. These scarves will stay in place whether blocked in traffic in one’s Smart, struggling with the present perfect in one's English lesson or cooking the last of this season’s artichokes in one’s kitchen.  

Bt the end of April  the climax of “Cambio di Stagione” will have taken place, usually during the final weekend.  Tourists will  continue to navigate Rome, in open-toed sandals and an unsightly mixture of linen and wool, oblivious to the mania underway in Roman homes as winter wardrobes are dutifully packed away and replaced by light to medium-weight spring wear. Once upon a time back in England the only difference between my winter and summer wardrobes was a bobble hat.  Nowadays, I too happily perform this ritual, safe in the knowledge that my cashmere won't see the light of day until October unless of course I find myself in England this August. 

There’s no doubt that Romans take the change of season very seriously, especially when it comes to clothes and food; this includes ice cream. From April onwards, the selection of ice cream increases to include a myriad of fruit flavours as technically chocolate and nut based ice creams go out of season although thankfully they aren’t stored away with winter woollies.  My gelateria recommendations will be plentiful during this new season as my passion for ice cream forms a solid bridge across my ongoing Anglo Saxon to Latin transformation. The photo at the top of  this post is of the best ice cream I have ever tasted in my life. Most Romans don’t even know the place exists and if Gastro-gnome has his way, they never will so I won't be giving away this Roman secret just yet. Winter flavours include rice pudding but the approaching “Cambio di Stagione” has already prompted the return of rose petal and wild strawberries soaked in strawberry liqueur and mixed into vanilla.  My ultimate quality test of any gelateria in any season is its pistachio and the pistachio here is D I V I N E.   

Fortunately I do have permission for the first of my Gelateria recommendations  “Gelateria del Teatro” . The ice cream is homemade with fresh fruit not sticky syrups. A short video of the production plays while you are choosing, or you can actually book a private demo by appointment. The pistachio is delicious and many flavours are innovative. Winter saw chocolate with Nero D’avola red wine. This season’s flavours include Sicilian lemoncake and raspberry vanilla with sage. There’s free seating outside around mosaiced tables and a convenient Roman drinking fountain at the foot of the staircase which leads to a small theatre above the gelateria. The location is certainly charming.  A couple of Tripadvisor reviews report dodgy service which I agree can be a little distant while the focus falls heavily on product quality. I recommend this place to chocolate ice cream fanatics who wish to enjoy a full range of chocolate flavours post Cambio di Stagione, still wearing medium to heavy winter wear. Romans will of course assume you are dressed to perform on the stage upstairs in A Winter’s Tale
Gelateria del Teatro: 5 minutes walk from Piazza Navona towards Castel Sant' Angelo. Take a 280 bus along the Tiber. No metro nearby. 

Bookmark and Share
TO POSTS VIA FEED. Ice cream's on me in Rome!


  1. Appreciate the tip ! Although I think that you only can get the really divine Icecreme in Lucca ! :-)

  2. Then I'm moving to Lucca immediately!

  3. This post cracked me up. It's so true. I see tourists in short and flip-flips and the Italians are wearing scarves.

    I'm in the process of switching out my closet. It's tiny so I have to take all my Spring clothes out of under-the-bed storage boxes. It's quite an undertaking.

    I like Gelateria del Teatro as well. So delicious.

  4. Tried the Tiramisu ice cream there recently. Fantastic! I really like the way they use green-handled scoops for the ice cream with no milk and white for all the other flavours. For Rome,uncharacteristically not vague : eerie!

  5. Have you tried their "fargoline & spumante" (wild strawberries and bubbles)?


    Aglio, Olio & Peperoncino

  6. I've been back to Gelateria del Teatro in late summer and the Cambio di Stagione happens there too! Have you tried the "white chocolate+basil" flavor? Foodgasm