Grattachecca, a Rome summer tradition

22 Jun

Coco and berries

When it gets really hot here in Rome, there’s nothing I can think of that is more refreshing and more “summer in Rome” than the grattachecca (pronounced “grah-tah-KEK-ah”). This is the original Italian shaved ice.

Sora Mirella

Sora Mirella is the grattachecca stand by my house, adjacent to the bridge to Tiber Island. I’ve been going here for grattachecche since my first summer in Rome in 2001. Up until a few years ago they were only open for summer and only served grattachecche more or less, but recently it’s turned into an actual coffee bar stand and is open year-round.

Lines on summer evenings here can get pretty long, but it’s such a part of the summer evening passeggiata along the Tiber that no one really seems to mind.

So, what exactly is a grattachecca?

There’s a person who stands in front of a large block of ice, and when you order yours, the person starts to hand-shave the block of ice with a metal shaving tool. Once the shaved ice is in the plastic cup, another person adds flavored syrups and fruit, according to the combination you ordered.


In looking at the menu it’s easy to see why Sora Mirella used to be able to open just during the summer. She was probably relaxing on some tropical island the rest of the year, with all the money she made during the summer rush. I mean, if you think about it, it’s a cup of ice and some syrup with a little fruit. The average price is around €3,50 but the “Super Frutta” which is basically a mix of their choice of syrups and fruit, costs €5. You do the math.

Pricing aside, Sora Mirella and a handful of other grattachecca stands are truly a Rome summer tradition. I definitely recommend this as part of your summer sight-seeing. Most people just hang out around the stand after they get their grattachecca, sitting on the wall of the bridge and people-watching. Not a bad way to cool off!

Coco vertical

Here is a list of grattachecche stands in Rome: (source, article on page 12)

SORA MARIA – Via Trionfale, corner of Via Telesio
SORA MIRELLA – Lungotevere degli Anguillara, corner of Ponte Cestio
FONTE D’ORO – Piazza Belli
SORA LELLA – Via Porta Cavalleggeri
BUENOS AIRES – Viale Regina Margherita, corner of Buenos Aires
ER CHIOSCHIETTO – Via Magna Grecia
L’URTO – Via del Porto Fluviale
LA GRATTACHECCA – Piazzale di Ponte Milvio


19 Responses to “Grattachecca, a Rome summer tradition”

  1. sognatrice June 22, 2007 at 11:16 am #

    You had me at the coconuts. *sigh*

  2. jessica in rome June 22, 2007 at 11:41 am #

    YAY! I love those!

  3. Giulia June 22, 2007 at 12:05 pm #

    THAT’S IT! I am opening one of these in Rome too. This way I can make so much money that, I too, can spend my winters somewhere else. 🙂 Yum, me lurves coconut too!

  4. Valerie June 22, 2007 at 12:29 pm #

    Love those! We don’t have the *real* grattachecca here, just granita which really isn’t the same thing. I also love the fresh coconut vendors who sell you pieces of the iced fruit. Yum!

  5. somepinkflowers June 22, 2007 at 3:30 pm #

    that last shot should be used in an ad!
    i am SO SOLD…

    with the pink spoon rakishly at an angle,
    maybe this should be a magazine cover…


  6. Jennifer H June 22, 2007 at 4:00 pm #

    That looks wonderful! So, what was the flavor you chose? Coconut and what?

  7. kataroma June 22, 2007 at 4:24 pm #

    When I was a kid in New York there were guys who used to come to our neighbourhood with big blocks of ice and do the same thing with the syrup. It was called “Italian ice.” Didn’t cost Euro 3.50 though – more like 10 cents.

    …and yes, I grew up on Sesame Street, why do you ask? 🙂

  8. nyc/caribbean ragazza June 22, 2007 at 4:48 pm #

    That looks so good, I wish we had something like that here. Instead everyone is obsessed with this fake yogurt place called Pinkberry. It’s crazy expensive, 6 bucks for yogurt and couple tablespoons of fruit.

  9. Sharon June 22, 2007 at 5:05 pm # is so hot here I’d even pay more than €5.

  10. FinnyKnits June 22, 2007 at 6:31 pm #

    Chunks of coconut? YES PLEASE.

    Shave ice is always a big part of our days when we’re in Hawaii. Although, you don’t usually get it with fruit on the top. That’s a nice bonus.

    BTW: You’re doing an amazing job capturing everything Rome. Not that I have a lot of personal knowledge, but from an outsiders POV, it’s really indulgent to sit back and find out what’s really going on in Rome.

  11. Shelley, At Home in Rome June 22, 2007 at 6:31 pm #

    Jennifer H: I got coconut and lemon… soooo good!!

    Kataroma: So I’m thinking your grattachecca guy wasn’t spending winters in some tropical island… 10 cents is way budget!!

    NYC: I think I’ve heard of Pinkberry but I can’t remember… in any case, fake yogurt… sounds funny.

    Sharon: I know! I’m about ready to go and SIT on one of those blocks of ice!

  12. Shelley, At Home in Rome June 22, 2007 at 6:32 pm #

    Hey Finny! Did you spot Ale in that shot of the Sora Mirella stand??

  13. rachael June 22, 2007 at 8:37 pm #

    Oh that looks so good. I’d go for LemonKiwi or LemonCocco. Ah I’m off to my local coffee shop to get an imitation granita

  14. Antonella June 23, 2007 at 3:17 am #

    Hey, do you think it was an Italian who introduced ‘Shave Ice’ to Hawaii? Nah, I’m sure it’s a worldwide phenomenon.

  15. Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy June 23, 2007 at 11:38 am #

    Ok, I’ll be at Termini in 4.5 hours and we’re going directly there on the H bus. 🙂

  16. Britt-Arnhild June 24, 2007 at 11:12 am #

    I will be in Rome a week from next Monday, and after that a week in Terracina. I will make sure to try this Grattachecca.

    I just found your blog and will come here often the coming week.

  17. Jessica June 26, 2007 at 12:55 pm #

    I used to stop here every afternoon on my walk home from John Cabot to my apartment, which was in the campidoglio area.umm, ymm, do i miss that place!! the best things are never sendable…

  18. Ian December 13, 2008 at 7:49 am #

    My wife and I were in Rome for 4 days this past August, and went out of our way to make sure we passed by the Sora Mirella as often as possible. We made it three times in those 4 days, even though we were staying right by Termini! And the prices have gone up since then. I’m pretty sure it was 4 euros for a regular and 6 for the Super Frutta. My favourite was the Monterosa, especially with those dried strawberries.

  19. Valentina June 26, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    I love Sora Lella, grattachecca is so yummi! 😉
    xx from Rome.


    The Chic Attitude

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