The Celluloid Pantry: Gelato and Roman Holiday (1953)
Some of the sweetest treats can be savored on the run. In Roman Holiday (1953), Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) does just that. Exhausted by her duties as visiting ambassador, but hungry for an authentic taste of Rome, the princess makes her escape.
After an evening meal of milk and crackers served on a silver tray, she steals away from the palace, out onto the bustling cobbled streets. But then the sedatives kick in. Unaware of the groggy princess’s identity, a cynical American reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) comes to her aid, grudgingly offering her his couch.
The next morning, after bobbing her hair short and performing one of those dramatic wardrobe adjustments possible only cinema, Ann is transformed. What better time to enjoy her first gelato from a street vendor? She climbs the Spanish Steps, finding just the right spot to enjoy it, bite after delicious bite. But as she finishes the cone, she senses the moment coming to an end, remarking wistfully, “I’d like to do just whatever I’d like the whole day long!…sit at a sidewalk café; and look in shop windows!…Have fun, and maybe some excitement.”
While in Rome, we were fortunate enough to do just that. With temperatures soaring in the high 80s, our first stop was San Crispino for some gelato. With its all-natural flavors and artisanal craftsmanship, this tiny shop has the deserved reputation as one of the best in Rome. Between two of us, as we strolled along towards the Trevi Fountain, we managed to sample Armagnac, cocoa meringue, pistaccio, and the house specialty, honey arbutus. (We returned the next day to enjoy bourbon and marsala gelato, and apple and lemon sorbet.) Next stop? A piazza-side table at Sant’Eustachio for some unforgettable espresso, delicately sweetened and thick with froth. Now that’s what Princess Ann was talking about.