For many centuries, people living in hot climates have strived to create cold and refreshing treats from the simplest natural ingredients: water, flavors, and mountain ice or snow. Gelato is one of the most delightful of these frozen confections.
Gelato: The Mystique
The history of gelato dates back to the 16th century, although there is some confusion about its origins. According to most accounts, it was Bernardo Buontalenti, a native of Florence, who first delighted the court of Caterina dei Medici with his creation. Sicilian-born Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, undoubtedly was one of the most influential individuals in the history of gelato, was among the first to sell it to the public, spreading its popularity throughout Europe.
Northern and Southern Traditions
The history of gelato is closely tied to two regions: Dolomite in the far north of Italy, and Sicily in the far south. In Dolomite gelato was made with milk, cream, sugar, eggs, and natural flavors. Snow was stored in the cantina (basement) during the winter. When the summer brought tourists into the mountains of Dolomite, the sale of gelato was one of the major sources of income for the region's people. Gelato was considered to be a rich man's dessert, and few people could afford it. Reduced tourism in Dolomite brought a great seasonal migration of Dolomite artisans to Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and France to sell gelato in the rich communities there. This tradition made Italians dominant in the business of milk-based gelato both in the northern parts of Italy and in neighboring countries.
In the far south, the gelato was predominantly water based. Lower in fat and slightly higher in sugar content, it was called sorbetto or "sorbet" in English. Southern gelato producers used techniques similar to those of the Dolomite region, especially in Sicily where underground storage areas, some as deep as 30 meters (more than 90 feet,) were used to store compacted snow. Like their northern counterparts, local Sicilian artisans would travel to the neighboring countries to sell their wonderful dessert to rich clients.
Today's modern production methods retain the best of tradition - flavor and freshness - while making gelato available to all. There isn't a tourist in Italy who has not enjoyed the magnificent wonder known as gelato.
Gelato in Italian literally means "frozen," but it is commonly used to indicate the Italian type of ice cream. Gelato contains much less air than typical American ice cream and is therefore more intense in flavor. Gelato is also healthier than American-style ice cream, as it contains all natural ingredients, fewer calories, and less butter fat. Our gelato is made fresh on the premises so that we can bring you the highest quality product.