–  Clemens Sels Museum Neuss


Italian ice cream makers in the Lower Rhine

At the end of the 19th century, the first Italian ice cream makers arrived in the towns between Cologne and Kleve. In the 1920s, they then opened the first ice cream parlors, which eventually became a fixture of the cityscape everywhere in the 1950s. Today, there are about 4,000 ice cream parlors in Germany, most of them run by Italian ice cream makers - and three-quarters of these in turn come from two valleys in the Dolomites: the Val di Zoldo and the Val di Cadore. In the second half of the 19th century, the Venetian Dolomites were among the poorest regions in Europe. Only a few families were able to support themselves through agriculture. Often the men were forced to go abroad as migrant workers during the summer. In the Val di Zoldo and the Val di Cadore, people found an unusual strategy to make a living: They became ice makers!

Before the invention of refrigeration machines, the production of ice was a laborious process. Those who could make good ice possessed a knowledge that set them apart from others. And so the Italian ice-cream makers found plenty of customers for their ice-cold delicacies, first in Austria and then in Germany. For the men from the Dolomites, migration continued to be limited to the summer. They usually worked in Germany only from March to September, in order to be able to spend the rest of the year with their family back home. One of them was Ernesto Zampolli from Pralongo, who came from a family of small farmers and craftsmen and founded an ice cream parlor in Neuss in 1936. The exhibition was also about him and his story.

Sponsored by:
Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sports of the State of NRW / Landschaftsverband Rheinland / Museum Netzwerk Niederrhein


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