The Gelateria Lapinelli is a gem sparkling in the Eolian Islands. Not since the rose petal and the rice and cinnamon ice cream at the legendary Gelateria Pica in Rome (legendary not least for Signora Pica’s refusal to smile at even the most lavish of compliments) have I experienced such ice cream excitement. There is something about the texture of sublime ice creams that marks them out, an exquisite balance between softness and firmness, creaminess and smoothness, substance and airiness carrying the flavours, not masking them. The Lapinelli gelati have all of these sublime qualities.
The ice creams are made in small batches at the back of the shop on Stromboli. Instead of being decanted into the usual open tubs, to present a spectrum of virulent technicolour, they’re turned out into old fashioned cylinders. When you ask for your selection – the chocolates, chocolate with cinnamon, fondente or dark chocolate, or just plain chocolate are particularly fine, but I’ve worked my way through the vanilla with caramel, strawberry, almond, coffee and pistachio and I haven’t come across a dud – they are beaten vigorously with a spatula being being draped luxuriously into your tub, cornet, or, in my case, into a split brioche bun.
The brioche brings a whole new dimension to eating ice creams. You start with a few spoons of the ice, itself, tearing off the odd bit of the brioche to add substance to each mouthful; dreamy, creamy ice cream with dry, yeasty springy bread. As you go on, the ice cream melts slowly into the brioche, lubricating its bounciness, soaking into it, melding flavours, turning squidginess into divine squelch, until all is gone, leaving you full, slightly sick and sad that this life-defining pleasure is over.