A Roman summer tradition: the “grattachecca”
Way back when gelato didn’t invade our every thought (because it didn’t exist!) and we weren’t obsessed with finding all the most incredible taste combinations in the city, Romans had other ways to keep themselves from going crazy because of the heat.
The main one included eating lots of grattachecca. Which, luckily for us, hasn’t gone out of style!
But first… what is grattachecca?
Grattachecca (pronounced grah-tah-keh-kah, with a word composed of “checca”, Roman for block of ice, and “gratta”, literally “scratching”) is a fruity iced drink consisting of ice, either hand-shaved or crushed, mixed with a generous amount of fruit syrup or fresh juice. Fresh fruits end up in there too, not so much as garnish but more as a proper ingredient.
Tastes that are typically associated with grattachecca are lemon, raspberries, mint, watermelon but as times changed even sellers adapted to the tastes of younger customers, so it’s not unheard to have ones with cola, banana… Or, you can ask for a personal “cocktail” by choosing your own fruits.
Where can you find grattachecca?
The undisputed queen of grattachecca is “Sora Maria”, on Via Trionfale, a short distance from the entrance of the Vatican Museums (you can easily walk to her shack if you don’t have any mobility issues).
Other similar stalls are usually on the Lungoteveri, the river banks above the Tiber. Visitors to the Trastevere area might have seen La Fonte d’Oro, walking distance from our managed accommodation at Wanderlust, while another recommended visit is to La Grattachecca on Via Magna Grecia, in the San Giovanni district, by our Via Gallia flat.
And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention another famous sora (Roman for “sister”/”ma’am”), Sora Mirella, again on the riverbank in Trastevere opposite the Tiber Island.
Why so few of them? Gelato is universally popular, so now just a handful of these refreshing drinks stalls remain in the city: if you’re visiting this summer, make sure you try some before you leave!