Ice cream in Rome

Rip-off Rome?

You may have read of the recent case of 4 British tourists being charged £54,000 (or something like that) for four ice creams. Roger Bannister and family were robbed blind at the 'Antica Roma' gelateria near Rome's Piazza di Spagna, paying quite a lot of money for an ice cream. They complained to whoever cared to listen and the story caused a raspberry ripple around the world and the story broke in several important news outlets (BBC, Daily Telegraph and CNN to name but a few), and some not very complimentary headlines were written about 'rip-off Rome'. The gelataria in question fought back saying that the Brits ordered huge ice creams which were priced clearly and accordingly. They even came with 'more than one type of wafer'.

I went to the gelateria in question and had a nose around and to see if I could manage to leave the place without having to re-mortgage my flat. The prices are on the wall, it's true, and they are extremely high for ice cream. The ice cream itself looked great, mind you doesn't it always? The wafers looked nice too, but I wouldn't pay extra for them unless they were gold plated. A blob of whipped cream on top of your VIP ice cream will set you back a further €3.50. That alone would have set the alarms bells on my wallet ringing, and I would have already done what Roger Bannister's namesake did and run a mile. But our intrepid tourists were extremely British about the whole thing and paid up regardless, they probably didn't want to cause a fuss. Except that they did. This week they were invited back to Rome by the mayor himself, and treated to an all-expenses paid trip around town.

Something that did strike me on my visit to the shop was the number of people in there. It was packed. People were taking photos of it from the outside and the queues inside were filled with people desperate to buy and taste the world most expensive ice cream. It seems like there's no such thing as bad publicity after all. I found the whole thing slightly suspicious, and it got me thinking. Maybe Mr Bannister is on the payroll, maybe he's a marketing genius (paid hundreds and thousands?) called in by Antica Roma to come up with a marketing plan for summer 2013. Or maybe he was employed by the mayor, who just happened to be in the middle of an election campaign, to cause a situation in which he could come out looking like the 'good guy' for his own political gain? Is it a coincidence that the gelataria is on Via Propaganda?

One thing's for sure, if you come to Rome and fancy an ice cream, the choice of top quality gelaterias is huge, and the majority of them won't cost you a mint (chocolate chip).

Published on July 12th, 2013
© When In Rome Tours, article provided by James Elliott.

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