A “Saintly” Gelato

May 6, 2016 / Food & Wine
Bolsena, Lazio

Patron saint and early Christian martyr, Santa Cristina reigns in Bolsena – and in unexpected ways. You’ll want to wander through the Basilica di Santa Cristina, finding the early Christian catacombs, remains of a Longobard cemetery, medieval frescoes, Renaissance Della Robbia glazed ceramic masterpieces and the altar linked to a 13th century miracle. And if it’s a hot day, as you leave the Basilica, follow the town main street (a lane, really) to the gelateria named after the saint. Here more miracles await.

Hydrangeas, petunias in Bolsena piazza near  the lake
Hydrangeas below castle
Basilica di Santa Cristina, Bolsena
Della Robbia masterpiece, Basilica di S. Cristina
Della Robbia entrance of Basilica di Santa Cristina
Della Robbia altarpiece, Bolsena

Miracles of flavors. The gelateria is small but will be full – with hot customers awaiting patiently as prize-winning gelataio Giulio and wife, Anna Cristina (logicamente!), serve up coni or coppe di gelato – some topped with panna montata – or paper cups brimming with refreshing granita. (My favorite? granita di yogurt).

What ice cream flavors!
Cristina serves up a cone
Anna Cristina prepares gelato for Signor Rolando's family

Gelato di pistacchio (with famed Sicilian Bronte pistachios) and gelato di nocciola (with Piemontese hazelnuts) are favorites and on a recent visit, quite a few tried the new grapefruit and pear gelati. But Giulio’s Slow Food prize-winner (in 2003), ricotta/canella (ricotta and cinammon), is the draw at Gelateria di Santa Cristina (with his caffe’ and nocciola bringing home trophies too, in other competitions).

4th Lazio edition of Slow Food awarded the big prize to Giulio
Proud display of trophies, prizes

“With ricotta-cannella, we turned a Lazio culinary tradition into an ice-cream – and Slow Food is dedicated to the preservation of local culinary traditions and flavors,” Giulio explained. Anna Cristina nodded then told me about a Christmastime dish of her childhood: pasta on Christmas Eve topped with a mixture of ricotta, cinnamon and a touch of sugar. That pasta dish doesn’t entice (after all, it’s laziale!) but… what a gelato! For me, every Bolsena sojourn starts with a stop at Gelateria San Cristina for a gelato di ricotta-cannella.

I thought I’d never veer from this trophy-conquering flavor, but the other day, master-gelataio Giulio took me to his workroom to try a new flavor: “eccellenze.” “Noi italiani abbiamo 4 eccellenze: i pinoli, i pistacchi di Bronte, le mandorle di Agrigento, e le nocciole del Piemonte,” Giulio explained. With the “excellences” of pinenuts, almonds, pistachios, almonds, Giulio has created another winner.

Slow Food, are you ready?

-4 eccellenze- in this new gelato,  Giulio exultsJPG
Try this one

Bolsena, overlooking Lake Bolsena

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See www.annesitaly.com for more on her Umbria tours. Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

21 Responses to “A “Saintly” Gelato”

  1. There’s another gelateria just opened for those who prefer organic locally sourced ingredients, it’s even closer to the church; look for the pale blue sign and ask Lorenza what she recommends, the flavours change daily depending on what’s in season and what’s good.

  2. Sounds amazing, hopefully I can make it out that way one day

  3. Another wonderful note, Anne! Brings back wonderful memories of a lovely afternoon with you in Bolsena–including unforgettable gelato, the best ever.

  4. Suzanne and Jack

    Your articles continue to draw us to Italy. I could have taken the taste of gelato being offered it was so enticing. Brings back memories of gelato on a warm afternoon. Bliss. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Mary Cappiello

    Another mouth watering note from you, Anne! Maybe our car will find its way there before our stay in Assisi this month!

  6. Sally

    Love the Della Robbia photos and the gelato! Now I want to go to Bolsena!
    Thanks, Anne.

  7. Rosemarie

    Anne, OK, add Lazio and this gelato place to my list of things to do with you on my next trip to Italy! Yummy! Good enough to eat!

  8. Lina Falcone

    Grazie nice pictures and the gelato looks great, hope to get to Bolsena some day.

  9. Because my father was born in Bolsena I always treasure any information about this beautiful town. Thank you !

  10. Victoria De Maio

    Sounds beyond heavenly…I’ve yet to find the cinnamon gelato but ALL of these are now on my list for my next visit. Grazie…

  11. Oh, my! With each writing, Anne, you make Italy truly come alive! My family and I can hardly wait to meet you & visit Bell’Italia this summer, especially Umbria!
    Grazie millle!!!

  12. I especially loved the photograph of the proud proprietor holding up 4 fingers!

  13. KarenKotoske

    My favorite photo is Giulio offering us (me!) a sample of his Cathedral bell-ringing gelato. Della Robbia facades and Giulio’s gelato…..sounds like bliss.

  14. Judy Thomas

    I love unusual combinations! Or at least trying them! This one sounds delicious! Beautiful photos – every one of them!

  15. Ann Krapf

    Anne, you always make Italy seem so close! Your passion and love for all you do comes through in all your articles. Grazie!


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