18 May · GelatoMyWay · No Comments

Gelato Masters from Val di Zoldo

Welcome back friends,

as I already told you, we spent a wonderful day in Orvieto ,Italy, for the event “I Gelati d’Itaia 2013“.

During this event we had the good fortune to meet the Gelato Masters from Val di Zoldo: gelato producers so passionate about their work to move me, they talk about gelato as if they were speaking of a great love and this is truly unique, believe me!

The Gelato Masters have shown us the creation of gelato with the ancient method: they very patiently prepared the vat where the gelato  mixture is whisked , filling the outer vat cavity with layers of  ice and salt … it’s only by seeing them that I tought  how lucky we are today, thanks to technology (you press 2 buttons and you’re done!).

After this operation (it takes about 1 hour) they entered the mix in the inner bowl and with the help of a crank one of the masters started turning the tub while the other one  “peeled” gelato out of the cold walls  with a wooden shovel .

At one point there was a funny skit: one of the masters, pretending to be tired, asked out team component Valerio to turn  the crank  in his place … he then rewarded Valerio with a Super bowl of excellent hazelnut gelato!

Enjoy  the video:

Despite the time it takes , I have to say that the “old tub” produces a perfect gelato … I believe that many gelato producers should change their machines and start using the old ones again …

A few pictures of the gelato Masters  at work:

A bit ‘of history …

Inhabited by  hunters and shepherds since ancient times  and, certainly, frequented by the ancient Romans who left traces of their passage on the slopes of Civetta mountain, it’s only in the second millennium that  Zoldo Valley (Italy) became widely known, first for mining and metalworking   for  the Serenissima Republic of Venice, later for the homemade gelato, now famous throughout the world.

After the devastating floods of the late ‘800, the flow of migrants (especially seasonal) to the German-speaking countries intensified, and Zoldo Valley inhabitants initially dedicated themselves to the sale of baked pears, biscuits and confectionery and , later,  sorbet and gelato.

The  Zoldo valley  inhabitants  specialized in the preparation of  gelato, which was prepared in special tubs, frozen with ice and salt, then poured into wooden troughs which were isolated with sacks to keep it solid until evening.

The contribution of Zoldo valley inhabitants was decisive to  the spread of  homemade gelato in central and northern Europe through street trading and soon was replaced by selling in shops.

Towards the end of 1800, the town of Vienna withdrew licenses to gelato street vendors to protect local pastry: in order to continue their business, gelato makers began to rent small shops and continued to sell gelato.

Emigration, however, remained a strictly seasonal phenomenon: gelato makers opened their shops in the period between March and October, continuing to spend the winter in their countries of origin.

Since the fifties this activity engaged, directly or indirectly, almost all the families of Zoldo Valley.

The economic difficulties of the post-war period and the desire to improve their living conditions, drove hundreds of families to abandon traditional activities (farming) to open gelato shops in Austria or Germany.

The emigration was so massive that determined profound changes in society and in the valley, almost all emigrants made ​​a very clear choice: maintain tight ties with the land and culture of origin, rather than groped to integrate permanently in German society.

Despite this attachment to their roots, it was obviously inevitable a profound transformation of social and economic relations in Zoldo: gelato makers lived there only during winter season, that coincides with the period of rest, while in spring and summer Zoldo became the Valley of silence, animated only by a few tourists and the few who continued to work on it.

Mountain agriculture and livestock disappeared completely within a few years, while some rural villages, relatively isolated from the rest of the territory, were finally abandoned.

Gelato was affirmed in this period as one of the most popular Italian food products in Central and Northern Europe, and played an important role in the economic development of the Zoldo Valley after the war especially with the emergence of specialized industries (furniture and products for gelato).

Today Zoldo is called “the gelato valleyand  gelato producers from  Zoldo Valley are scattered all over the world, especially in Italy and Germany, but even in Peru, Japan, China, South Africa.


Valentina Pacini


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