It’s cloudy and humid in Reggio today: weather that makes me angsty, and I’m even more on edge than usual as my big journey home is looming over me. Still, nothing is going to come between me and my last ice cream.
There’s only one place that could possibly be deserving of such an honour, and that’s Sottozero, the best gelateria in Reggio Calabria (anyone that tells you that it’s Cesare is wrong and needs to take a long hard look at themselves.)
Locals know that the best thing on the menu is brioche filled with ice cream. Of course, this is Italy, so it’s brioche filled with three flavours of ice cream. I make my selection carefully.
1) Biscotti – A surprising staple in the Italian diet, school children have a bowl of milk into which they’ll dip their biscuits for breakfast every day. Initially I thought this an alarmingly unhealthy habit, until I realised it’s basically cereal backwards. Newcomers to Italian supermarkets are advised to head straight for Pan di Stelle in the biscuit aisle, and the ice cream version is delicious.
2) Golosella – Goloso means greedy/gluttonous and, while I have no direct translation for it’s meaning with the fancy ending (Italians love their confusing suffixes), I’m choosing to translate it as ‘deliciously indulgent’. Apt, as this flavour is essentially extra creamy, cold Nutella. Nuts are a frequent feature in Italian desserts, and, like all things, different regions have their own specialities. The South is known for pistachio and almond. Nutella, of course, is a national treasure, and if there’s one flavour that could sum up my relationship with Italian food, this is it.
3) Tiramisu – I made the discovery of Tiramisu semi-freddo way too late into my year abroad and it’s rapidly been promoted to second favourite (see golosella). The texture is just dreamy: the creamy fluffiness of freshly whipped cream with a gooey meringuey finish. The taste of coffee brings the sounds of clinking china to my ears – the sound you hear when walking past any one of the dozens of coffee bars on the high street. It’s the sound that says ‘come on in, take a break, you deserve it! And hey, if you chance upon a croissant while you’re sipping espresso, that’s ok too.’ Pure comfort.
I savour my ice cream in my favourite spot in Reggio: the steps of an old amphitheatre facing out to sea. The weather hasn’t improved (just as well – I forgot my camera again) but the sound of the sea is soothing, and the taste of the ice cream is, well, fabulous. Despite the clouds, Sicily is still clearly visible, the evening lights just starting to twinkle. It’ll be my last look at this view for a while. Time to savour the moment.