As well as all the habits and customs that are part of the Italian peninsula, there are also many specialties and typical Italian recipes of decidedly popular origin, which have become real institutions that attract food lovers from all over the world: the Roman Grattachecca is one of these.
Read on to discover all the secrets about this refreshing summer speciality that has its origins in far off 1913.
The Roman Grattachecca
The Grattachecca, one of the most peculiar Italian specialties, owes its name to the verb “grattare” (scrape) and “Checca”, a word that once indicated the large blocks of ice that were used to keep food cold and fresh. It is easy to understand that the term “Grattacchecca” is used precisely to indicate this grated ice treat which is flavoured with one or more syrups such as Amarena cherry, mint, barley malt or coconut, to mention the most popular. A custom that, besides the city of Rome, is present all over Italy, especially in Naples where it is called “Grattata” whilst in Palermo it’s called “Grattatella” and in Bari “Grattamarianna”. It must be mentioned, however, that the grattachecca might look similar to but differs from the “granita”, as the latter is made with water and syrups and then frozen.
credits: Ranucci Group
The grattachecca is made by the Roman “Grattacheccari” that proceed in the following way: they start by scratching large blocks of ice with special scrapers, collecting the ice in a glass sized container. Then syrup, fruit juice or fresh fruit is added to the ice, and it is consumed in the hottest period of the year.
The last Roman “grattacheccari” (Ice scrapers)
Today in Rome there are very few kiosks which still offer the traditional grattachecca, but the few remaining ones are still holding on to tradition and propose this modest but still loved treat to the public to quench their thirst and cool off when the heat and sun are unforgiving. On the Lungotevere degli Anguillara you can find the kiosk of the Mirella Sora active since 1970, while on the Lungotevere Raffaello Sanzio we find “Alla fonte dell’oro”, which can boasts being one of the oldest in the Eternal City. In the district of Testaccio Romano we find the Testaccio kiosk, and Lemoncocco, in Buenos Aires Square, a kiosk inaugurated in 1946.
We at Italian traditions can confirm that the grattachecca is a perfect refreshing treat to taste while walking along the streets of the city, on a hot summer afternoon or the perfect ending to a summer dinner.