Saintly Gelati of Bolsena

Patron saint and early Christian martyr, Santa Cristina, reigns in Bolsena (Lazio) – in unexpected ways. Wandering through the Basilica di Santa Cristina, one finds 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.

After leaving the Basilica on a hot day, follow the town’s main street (a lane, really) to the gelateria named after the saint. Here more miracles await. Miracles of flavors. The gelateria is small but always full as customers patiently await the prize-winning gelataio Giulio and his wife, Anna Cristina (logicamente!), serving up coni or coppe di gelato. Top yours with panna montata or refreshing granita. Gelato di pistacchio (with famed Sicilian Bronte pistachios) and gelato di nocciola (with Piemontese hazelnuts) are favorites. But, Giulio’s Slow Food prize-winner (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). “With our ricotta-cannella, we turned a Lazio culinary tradition into an ice-cream.

Slow Food is dedicated to the preservation of local culinary traditions and flavors,” Giulio explained. I thought I’d never veer from this trophy-conquering flavor until 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, and hazelnuts, Giulio has created another winner.