‘When you eat a cone it is love’: Five favorite gelaterias in Rome

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'When you eat a cone it is love': Five favorite gelaterias in Rome
Traditionally made gelato in Rome. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
American writer John Henderson tasted his first Italian gelato 40 years ago, and he’s been eating it ever since. Now a Rome resident, he shares his guide to finding a good gelateria – along with five of his favourites.

I turned 62 last month. But as I licked my way across Rome, I felt the same as I did when I first came to Italy and had my first gelato in front of the Duomo in Milan. I was 22. I’m firmly convinced if I keep eating gelato in Rome I’ll be young forever.

Like everything else in Italy, gelato is all natural, as pure as the olives in olive oil and grapes in wine. It is Italy’s lunch break, its afternoon snack, its nightcap. Strolling the cobblestone passageways snaking off Piazza Navona or in front of the 2nd-century Pantheon, romantic Romans can’t seem to hold their lover’s hand without holding a gelato in their other one.

“When you eat a cone, it is love,” said Nazzareno Giolittli, owner of Giolitti, the hugely popular gelateria near the Pantheon.

“It’s not possible for American people to walk along the street because it’s too frantic. Rome, it’s more slow. It’s a tradition to walk around the city. When old people look at ice cream, they become young again.”


Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

The key is finding the right gelateria. Gelateria owners — or gelato jockeys as I call them — I talked to and my own mouth-watering wanderings over the years estimate that only about 20 percent of the gelaterias are natural. The rest are industrialized frauds using artificial ingredients and colouring to make the flavours look more inviting.

Want a tip? It’s easy. If the gelato is big and puffy and bright, it probably has more artificial ingredients than a small jet engine. Air creates that puffiness. And if the banana flavour is bright yellow and the pistachio bright green, keep walking. Think about it. Both fruits are kind of grayish.

Real gelaterias present their gelato flattened in tubs. The ingredients are concentrated, real, natural.

Cream flavours consist of egg yolks, milk or cream, sugar plus whatever flavour, be it chocolate or hazelnut or whatever. Fruit flavours consist of water or milk, sugar and fresh fruit.

The real gelaterias change flavours with the season. You won’t find mango in January; you won’t find pear in July. It’s spring and fragole (strawberries) and lamponi (raspberries) are starting to return.


Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Here are John’s top five gelaterias in Rome, based partly on recommendations and mostly his own taste.

1. Brivido, Via Giovanni Battista Bodoni 62

Living five minutes away, I’ve made Brivido my nightcap. It’s cheaper than another glass of wine and much healthier.

Although purists can argue that getting the free dip into big vats of white and dark chocolate isn’t healthy or traditional, I’m not traditional, either. Biting into a hard, white-chocolate coating and sinking your tongue into soft, creamy flavours of all natural ingredients is my idea of ending the day.

My favorite flavour, amarena (black cherry), is especially good here as they use raw cherries. I loved the new flavour I tried this week, arachide (peanut). Brivido also has a whole line of vegan flavours.

2. Old Bridge, Viale dei Bastioni di Michelangelo

This is extraordinarily biased as I’ve been going here for 17 years. I’ve always liked Old Bridge because of its portions. They’re the largest in Rome but do not sacrifice their natural ingredients.

“Since we opened 30 years ago, we try to use two components: the quality and the quantity of the product,” said owner Gianluciano Mereu. “We always thought that these two things together are fundamental for the success of our work. So we prefer to earn a little less but we give something more to our clients. It’s our philosophy to thank them.”


Photo: Marina Pascucci

Like many gelaterias, Old Bridge goes to great lengths for its natural products. For its most popular flavour, pistachio, Mereu gets pistachios from Sicily near a volcano where the earth is richest. “They’re the best pistachios in the world,” he said.

3. Grezzo, Via Urbana 130

Grezzo opened four years ago in an inconspicuous shop in Monti, arguably Rome’s hippest, liveliest neighborhood today. Matteo Mercolini took a job here slingin’ gelato a few weeks ago.

“After I taste this my conception of gelato totally changed,” he told me. “I can not go to any other ice cream shops.”

Mine changed here, too. Grezzo is famous for its raw chocolate, and its display case is filled with tantalizing little chocolate chunks filled with everything from pralines to various nuts. Gelato has become Grezzo’s side venture, along with its cakes and cookies.


Photo: John Henderson

But the raw chocolate gelato was the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had. The chocolate beans are sun-dried, not toasted like most places. So concentrated, the chocolate exploded in my mouth. I paired it with nocciola (hazelnut) which is 40 percent nuts compared to the usual 20 percent, Mercolini said.

“Keeping the process under 42 degrees, it allows us to maintain all the nutritional values and, of course, the flavour is more powerful,” he explained. “It’s more concentrated in the mouth.”

I look forward to this summer when they break out their mango, raspberry, blueberry and passion fruit, which match the chocolate in popularity.

4. Neve di Latte, Via Luigi Poletti 6

Sitting on a side street behind the MAXXI modern art museum in northern Rome, Neve di Latte looks anything but touristy. Its bland grey and white interior makes it look older than its eight years and there’s nothing fancy about the flavours.

But the gelato I had — pistachio and variegato (cocoa, hazelnut, cream) — was spectacular. You could actually taste the cream separate from the cocoa and hazelnut.

How serious do gelaterias take their ingredients? Neve di Latte gets its milk and cream from a biodynamic producer in Germany where the cows graze at about 4,600 feet. Its Amadei chocolate and Parisi eggs are from Tuscany.

Underneath it all, the pistachio was as good as any I’ve ever had and I’ve tried it all over Italy.


Photo: Marina Pascucci

5. Fatamorgana, Via Roma Libera 11 and other locations 

This one makes the list purely by its adventurous nature. Fatamorgana, although part of a chain that’s always a red flag, has the most interesting flavours in Rome.

On my visit I saw carrot cake, baklava, Lapsang Souchong, chocolate, blackberry and grapes. I’ve read about such flavours here as cinnamon-apple-nut, tiramisu and blueberry cheesecake. One called Bacio del Principe (Kiss of the Prince) is made of gianduja (a chocolate paste made from ground hazelnuts). Panacea is almond milk, ginseng and mint.

I had its famous banana cream with sesame brittle and the sesame’s salt adds an intoxicating flair to the sweet banana. I combined that with seadas: pecorino cheese from Sardinia, chestnuts, honey and orange peel. You could taste every ingredient, kind of like a fine wine.

The mastermind behind all this is Maria Agnese, a country girl who made gelato as a child but never followed a recipe. She once used leaves from a local orchard’s almond tree and invented almond flowers gelato cream.


Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

John Henderson is a writer and expat living in Rome. This is an edited version of an article that was originally published on his blog, Dog-Eared Passport. Find more of his stories here.

 

Source :  The Local Italy

Meet the Italian architect living in a nine-square-metre home

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Meet the Italian architect living in a nine-square-metre home
Relaxing on his roof terrace. Photo: Leonardo Di Chiara
Finding accommodation in Italy is a headache, with scams and unscrupulous landlords to watch out for, red tape to wade through, and of course the high cost of buying or renting in a city. Architect Leonardo Di Chiara’s solution is simple: he created, and now lives in, a studio apartment on wheels, his entire living space measuring just nine metres squared.

“In Italian, the word for real estate is ‘immobiliare’ which literally means ‘not movable’ — we are very fixed,” Di Chiara tells The Local, days after his ‘tiny house’ went on show at Milan’s Design Week.

The tiny home movement is well established in the US and some European countries like Germany, but the architect thinks it might take longer for Italians to come round. People born in Italy are more likely than their northern European neighbours to stay close to their hometown throughout their lives. This is partly due to traditional community and family ties, while an unstable economy has limited the options for many young professionals.

A lot of the dialogue about housing in Italy focuses on restrictions. Priced out of a housing market where costs are soaring, the millennial generation is moving out of the parental home later than ever.

But Di Chiara says that a growing number of his peers are purposely opting out of the traditional path of putting down roots and settling down somewhere, instead choosing to travel and live abroad. Tiny houses, he argues, offer the freedom that his generation craves.

“I am 27 and I have no friends who have bought a house, and actually only a few who own a car. More and more people prioritize being able to travel and experience other cultures; sometimes they move for work, but I also know people who have given up fixed jobs and high pay in Italy in order to have more freedom,” he says.


Photo: Giacomo Terracciano

The Italian has been fascinated by the possibilities of small spaces since childhood, when his dust allergies meant he needed a space that could be kept clean easily, and his parents gave him the smallest room in the house.

“My activity as an architect started within those seven square metres. I had to find solutions and make a small space work,” he says.

After studying architecture in Bologna, Di Chiara had dreamed of buying a loft apartment to set up home in one of the northern city’s iconic red rooftops.

“But I also wanted to travel and see different cultures around the world. I didn’t want to put down roots,” he explains. It was then that he heard about the ‘tiny house movement’, a global community of architects working in compact small spaces. “So I put this dream of having my own home onto a trailer.”

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Image: tinyhouse360.de

Di Chiara’s home, which you can explore by clicking and moving around the above image, differs from many of the ultra-compact living spaces already out there in two ways.

Firstly, it’s extremely flexible, so that the limited space can be used in many ways. A bed folds down from the walls, and can be transformed into a double or packed back up to be replaced by a table and chairs for four. The name of the project, ‘aVOID’, refers to the empty space left when all the furniture is folded back, creating room for yoga, exercise, or even parties — the architect once hosted 15 friends for a ‘tiny disco’.

The second big difference is that while many nomadic, mobile, or compact homes are built for remote rural environments, aVOID is designed for urban living. There are no windows on the sides of the house, meaning it can line up against other buildings, and possibly slot in as part of a whole community of tiny houses in the future.


Six friends squeeze in for pizza. Photo: Leonardo Di Chiara

This is a key part of his project. Nomadic living is traditionally about taking a step back from society, but tiny houses like Di Chiara’s occupy a space somewhere in between the public and private; it’s possible to set up quite centrally as an office, and open up the windows to create a very open, public-facing space.

He sees tiny houses as a possible solution to the housing crisis in many large European cities.

“On my tour, I’m showing that you can easily become a resident of very attractive cities like Berlin, Munich, Rome, Milan, where it’s very tough for young professionals to find a place. With my house, I can move where I can find a job; I’ve been in Berlin for eight months and after my tour, I’ll probably go back to Munich to work there. You don’t have to find accommodation. You become a resident the moment you arrive somewhere.”

The main issue at the moment is legislation. In Germany and Italy, you can’t officially be a resident if you live in a tiny house, but would usually be classed as a nomad, which means no access to healthcare or other public services.


Photo: Stefan Dauth

Di Chiara hopes to change this, and while in Milan he spoke to one of the city’s councillors about the possibility of making it easier for people in remote homes to be properly connected to the city. “They need to be able to use libraries, hospitals, be able to vote and so on. It’s more than just camping somewhere; it’s a real way of living.”

As well as being functional and versatile, the 27-year-old says it’s important for the house to feel like home. A lot of thought has gone into the materials and lighting, chosen in order to maximize the limited space. Around 40 companies contributed to the tiny house, each installing a different piece of furniture or fitting.

“It’s a story of collaboration; lots of companies didn’t even know about the tiny house movement beforehand and now some of them are including products for this kind of house in their catalogues.”


The house in Di Chiara’s hometown of Pesaro.

The next goal for the 27-year-old is to make the tiny house a possibility for even more people. The house he has now is a prototype, for which everything was custom made at a total cost of €50,000. Later, he hopes to find a company to finance a startup that can produce similar homes in an economically sustainable way, as well as speaking to banks and building more understanding of the tiny house movement, so that people can more easily get loans.

The tiny house generated a lot of interest at Milan’s Design Week, even beyond its innovative design. “Milan can be quite superficial so I thought people would only be interested in how it looked, but actually I got a lot of questions about what it’s like to live there. I invited them in to drink coffee or take a nap, and invited influencers for three overnight stays so they could answer questions from the public,” he says.

Di Chiara expects Italy to take slightly longer to get used to the idea of the tiny house compared to places like the US and Germany, because traditional ideas of community and housing are more firmly entrenched.

But he adds: “Mobility can be lots of different things – you don’t have to buy a house on wheels! Small apartments are more flexible than traditional homes, you can buy and sell them more easily or rent it out. But still, the tiny house is a very provocative statement.”

 

Source :  The Local Italy

Telecom Italia CEO to quit if vulture fund wins board battle

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Telecom Italia CEO to quit if vulture fund wins board battle
Amos Genish at an event in 2017. Photo: TIM/Flickr
The head of Telecom Italia has said he will resign if a US hedge fund wins a power struggle this week with French telecom giant Vivendi, its largest shareholder, according to reports in Britain.
Amos Genish, chief executive of Telecom Italia (TIM), told the Daily Telegraph his position would become “untenable” if Elliott, a fund that holds an 8.8-percent stake in the company, succeeds in shaking up the board at a
Friday shareholders meeting.
Vivendi, which owns 24 percent of TIM, has de facto control thanks to its stranglehold on board and executive positions, and opposes Elliott’s aim to replace six board members — though not Genish, whom it has said it would
retain.
TIM is set to elect a new board at this week’s investor gathering, following the resignation last month of eight members in a bid to pre-empt the fund’s move.
“If the Vivendi slate does not get the majority of votes, because this is clearly the only slate to support our long-term industrial plan, I firmly believe my position as CEO would be untenable,” Genish told the Telegraph.
Elliott, sometimes called a “vulture fund”, proposed a motion last month to replace the board members, in the latest salvo in a simmering stand-off with Vivendi over TIM’s governance.
It has repeatedly blasted the company’s performance since “Vivendi nominees” joined the board in December 2015 and last month offered its own list of six “independent” replacements, well known to the Italian business  community.
The move prompted the resignations of the eight TIM board members, which Elliott called “Vivendi’s cynical new attempt to avoid accountability and delay the shareholder vote.”
The comments by Genish, a well-respected figure who won the support of an overwhelming majority of shareholders at another meeting last week, will be seen as a blow to the fund as it tries to convince investors to back its agenda.
Source :  The Local Italy

Activist investor wrests control of Telecom Italia board

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Activist investor wrests control of Telecom Italia board
Telecom Italia (TIM) faced a crunch vote over board members. Photo: Miguel Media/AFP
Activist fund Elliott won its weeks-long power struggle with Vivendi over Telecom Italia by wresting control of the company’s board at a shareholder meeting held near Milan on Friday.

US-based Elliott scraped past Vivendi, with 49.84 percent of voting shareholders’ ballots going in the fund’s favour and 47.18 percent of votes for the French telecommunications giant, which is run by billionaire Vincent Bollore and is the largest shareholder in Telecom Italia (TIM) with a stake of just under 24 percent.

Elliott hailed it as a victory for an “independent slate,” but it is a big win for the fund, which has about nine percent of TIM’s shares and has been pushing for change at the top at TIM ever since it demanded the removal of six board members in mid-March.

“Today’s win for the independent slate sends a powerful signal to Italy and beyond that engaged investors will not accept substandard corporate governance,” the fund wrote in a statement following the vote, in which over 67 percent of TIM’s capital took part.

It will hold ten seats on the new board, with Vivendi given the remaining five, a huge blow to the French group after having previously had a stranglehold on board positions.

Vivendi immediately responded to the defeat by insisting that it would work to ensure that Elliott, sometimes called a “vulture fund”, would not “dismantle” TIM.

“We have five seats on the board, we are the main shareholder and we will continue to support [director and general manager] Amos Genish’s strategy, which was voted for unanimously by the board,” said Vivendi’s head of communications Simon Gillham.

‘Very bad shareholder’

Gillham added that Elliott’s was “not a market-driven victory” and that they won thanks to state-controlled entity Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, which holds a 4.7 percent stake in TIM and “made the difference by voting for a hedge fund instead of an industrial long-term shareholder”.

The Italian government has repeatedly criticized Vivendi’s management, and tensions have often been high between Rome and the French group.

“Vivendi has been a very bad shareholder,” Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda said in April. “I am in favour of foreign investment, but that does not mean remaining dormant when they [want] to destroy the value rather than to create it.”

Calenda’s criticisms mirror those of Elliott, who have lamented TIM’s performance ever since “Vivendi nominees” joined the board in December 2015.

The fund has castigated governance issues and “conflicts of interest” such as TIM’s January 2017 awarding of an advertising contract to Havas, which is owned by Vivendi, worth a rumoured €100 million.

The charges filed last week against Vincent Bollore, CEO of the Bollore group that owns Vivendi, in connection with the awarding of two lucrative port concessions in West Africa, was for Elliott the “latest example” of the problems posed by Vivendi.

Elliott’s ten nominees, all well-known to the Italian business community, include Luigi Gubitosi, current extraordinary administrator of failing airline Alitalia, and Fulvio Conti, former CEO of Enel. Conti will be TIM’s new chairman.

Genish, who is close to Bollore, said on Sunday that his position would be untenable should Vivendi lose, but Elliott reiterated the support it showed the general manager in TIM’s previous shareholders meeting last week.

“Elliott remains fully supportive of CEO Mr. Amos Genish and the entire management team and is fully aligned with Mr. Genish’s business plan,” it wrote.

 

Source :  The Local Italy