I know this seems like a paradox, but you cannot actually eat your gelato ON the Spanish Steps.
They passed a city ordinance that prohibits eating and drinking on the Spanish Steps themselves, and it's pretty well-enforced. And lately, there is another law that says you cannot sit on the Spanish Steps, either.
In any case, all the best gelato near Spanish Steps can be found a bit of a walk from there, so you would finish your gelato by the time you got to the steps anyway. Or at least, I would.
Where to find the best gelato near Spanish Steps
Gelateria dei Gracchi
One of the best gelato shops in Rome is Gelateria dei Gracchi, on via dei Gracchi, in the Prati area near the Vatican.
Anytime I find myself in that area, I stop at this gelateria, even if I am not hungry because hey, who needs to be hungry to have amazing gelato?
A small outpost of the famed Gelateria dei Gracchi, on via di Ripetta near Piazza del Popolo
Luckily for me (and you), they have opened another branch right on via di Ripetta, a stone's throw from Piazza del Popolo, which is part of the Spanish Steps area.
A limited but still outstanding selection of flavors at Gelateria dei Gracchi on via di Ripetta
This shop is a bit smaller than the original, and has fewer flavors but they always seem to have the ones I really want: Sicilian almond, dark chocolate, pistacchio di bronte, and creamy hazelnut.
One of my favorite combos - dark chocolate with pistacchio gelato at Gelateria dei Gracchi
How to get there: From Piazza del Popolo, take via di Ripetta. It's almost immediately on your right.
The Ciampini family run several old-fashioned Roman cafés, and this one in particular has artisanal gelato.
Old-fashioned artisanal gelato at Ciampini
It's not on many of the foodie blogs, but this is where Romans in the know go for their gelato in the city center. It's also not that obvious to spot.
Entry to Ciampini Gelateria
Serving the gelato at Ciampini
You have to walk around the back, and enter the barely noticeable Gelateria. Then, you cannot even see the gelato, because it's kept covered in steel bins. There are not a lot of flavor options, just plain simple natural flavors, and only with what is in season (in summer, try the peach, wow.)
How to get there: From the bottom of the Spanish Steps, go a little to your left and walk down Via Frattina. Take it all the way to the end, and cross over Via del Corso onto Piazza di San Lorenzo in Lucina. Ciampini is at the far right, but the gelateria is around the corner from the main entrance, on via del Leoncino.
Fatamorgana is probably the best gelato near Spanish Steps.
They are already one of the very best in Rome.
The owner and founder Maria Agnese Spagnuolo was passionate from the get-go about making all-natural gelato, sometimes with interesting and unusual combinations.
Fatamorgana is one of the innovators in creative gelato flavor combinations
Although the standard cream, nut and chocolate flavors are always superb, it's also worth trying out some of her innovative creations such as banana with sesame cream brittle, blueberry cheesecake, or this fabulous combo of seadas (Sardinian cheese and honey dessert) and baklava (Greek honey-nut pastry):
Cone with Seadas and Baklava gelato at Fatamorgana - a very special treat