The Italian ice-cream parlor (“Eiscafé”) is one of the most common and celebrated urban amenities in the German-speaking part of Europe, mainly Germany. In Germany, there is an Italien ice-cream parlor for every 30.000 inhabitants. Especially in small towns the Italian ice-cream parlor is often the one and only place for a broad variety of people to socialize outside of home. It has a decisive impact on these country’s idea of ‘al fresco’ enjoyment and is a symbol of both the german-speaking society’s fondness for Italy and the Italian immigrants’ inclusion into their society.
It emerged from a 100-year long process of migration and adaptation from a single valley (the Val di Zoldo). Ice-cream, vending families commute until today between Germany in summer, where they sell ice-cream and live in a rented post-war apartment above the ice-cream parlor and the Zoldo valley in winter, where they either take on a job in winter tourism or vacation in a house that is not only their property but at times beautifully crafted and large.
Historically, there existed two major emigration countries for people from the Val di Zoldo: Germany and Brazil. While these two strands of migration existed separated from each other for several decades, they have only become intertwined again more recently. Brazilian citizens have started to work in the Italian-German ice-cream business due to their ancestral relations to Zoldan families. The principal of freedom of movement for passport-holders from EU countries enables triangular movements between the Brazilian region of Santa Catarina, the Italian Val die Zoldo and Germany.
The harmless ice-cream parlor adresses a broad audience including children, the elderly, women and men alike. A ball of ice-cream costs around 1,20€ and is affordable for people in different economic situations. It was one of the first gestronomic offers for women and children since it’s establishemnt from 1900 and served as a hang-out for the rebellious youth in the 1960’s., when it incorporated spatial ideas of the flashy American Diner as well.
At the architecture biennal in Sao Paulo, we opened an ice cream parlor and told its story through an oversized menu. Needless to say, the installation was very well received, especially when ice cream was given out.