The heat is here! Refresh yourself with the curious story about Snow that we’re telling you today and with the ice creams from the 5 Classic Ice Cream Shops in Avenidas Novas.
The historic centre of Lisbon is full of modern ice cream shops, of national and foreign brands. They serve ice creams in which the variety of flavours, shapes and concepts surpasses the limits of the imagination.
But we’re not telling you about the flavours and shapes, nor about the ice cream shops of the touristic areas of Lisbon. We’ve thought of a different approach.
However, we don’t want to miss mentioning the classic ice cream shop in the heart of Downtown Lisbon, A Veneziana.
Simply because its ice creams are not only delicious, but also the oldest of Lisbon. Since 1936 that A Veneziana occupies the no.8 in Restauradores Square.
Now moving on to our main subject.
Did you know that the consumption of ice cream isn’t a milestone of the 20th century and, although surprising, its consumption goes way back?
And did you imagine that since the 18th century the people of Lisbon refreshed themselves in cafés where Snow was served?
And that ice cream shops were in vogue in the 1970’s and 1980’s?
You’ll also be finding out the 5 classic ice cream shops in Avenidas Novas that we’ve chosen for you.
Sorbets and Ice Creams
We won’t be rambling about who invented or how this delicious temptation reached Europe. For some it was brought in the 13th century by Marco Polo from China where snow was mixed with fruits and honey. Others defend that its introduction was made by the Arabs from the Middle East. Since the 12th century that they consumed a drink made of fruit, spices and snow from the Himalayas, the sharbat or sberbeth that derived the word sorbet.
Either way, they’re both the combination of fruits and snow, having milk been added in the recipe later on in Europe, the ice cream. The truth is that the ice creams were presented as a Florentine specialty in the wedding of Catherine de Medici and Henry II of France in the 16th century.
The artisanal ice cream shops in all times and places state that they use Italian recipes as a guarantee of quality or at least use names with an Italian touch which on its own gives them a certain charm.
The Story of the Snow
What is more interesting to us is the consumption of ice cream in Portugal.
After researching we found out that in mid-18th century existed in Lisbon a shop where you could eat Snow, the Casa da Neve (directly translated as House of Snow). Do you know where it was? And where did the ice come from? Does the Royal Factory of Ice ring a bell? We’ll explain:
At least since the 17th century that ice would arrive to Lisbon from Serra da Estrela. It is known that there was a contract between the City Council of Lisbon and the neveiro, the person who sells snow, Paulo Domingues in 1619, but that before that the commercialization of snow already existed.
In the same year, King Filipe II of Portugal was staying in Lisbon and it is known that on his table there were always fresh drinks and Snow.
Since then the consumption of ice rose, reaching the population of Lisbon in general. But where did the ice come from?
Snow Factory of Coentral in Serra da Lousã
In Serra da Lousã, concretely in the village of Coentral, existed a rudimentary snow collecting industry. It consisted in deep wells to where the local people transported snow that was compacted with big mallets by pavers.
This way, large accumulations of ice were formed which were then cut and transported in ox carts across the mountain all the way to Vila Nova da Barquinha. Here, the ice was moved to boats that reached the Terreiro do Paço through the Tagus River.
This hard work was in Lisbon well paid to contractors and neveiros, but poorly paid to local workers. It was only in the 19th century that the families from Coentral took over the business just before the activity became obsolete and consequently disappeared.
Royal Factory of Ice
When we talk about the Portuguese industrial development of the 18th century, we immediately think of the designation of Royal Factory.
The Royal Factory of Crockery, of Silk Tissue and of Textile are famous, but have you ever heard of the Royal Factory of Ice?
Throughout the 18th century the consumption of ice increased in such a way that it was necessary to find a solution to complement the usual supplier.
For that reason, in around 1741 the Royal Factory of Ice was built in Serra de Montejunto. A mountain range relatively close to Lisbon that, during winter, met the necessary conditions to form ice.
This more elaborate industrial unit consisted of a complex formed by two nuclei, one dedicated to the production and another destined for the ice’s conservation and preparation for dispatch.
Instead of collecting snow, here the ice was produced. The factory had water collection and storage systems and 44 shallow tanks with about 10 to 15 cm of water that from September, subject to the low temperatures at night, would freeze. It was then still necessary before daybreak to collect the ice formed and to transport it to carefully-washed silos in order to ensure its hygiene. This process was repeated daily until the end of winter.
Then the blocks of ice were protected with straw and hessian and loaded on donkeys that transported them to Vala do Carregado. From here, they were transported by boat to Lisbon.
The factory closed in 1885 and was abandoned and forgotten until it was classified as National Monument in 1997. After conservation and requalification interventions, it was opened to the public in 2011.
The Snow in Lisbon
When arriving to Terreiro do Paço, the ice had several destinations.
In the first place, the Noble House, but also the Hospital, storage silos and cafés.
The ice had many uses, including therapeutic ones, and one of its main consumers was the All Saints Royal Hospital that existed in Rossio until the earthquake of 1755.
It is known that there were ice storage tanks in Lisbon near the National Theatre of São Carlos and in the zone of Graça.
When it comes to cafés, the most famous one and perhaps the first one, inaugurated in 1778, was the Casa da Neve, nothing less than the currently well-known Martinho da Arcada. Here the ice was transformed into appetising and famous Snow.
Throughout the 19th century many other famous cafés served to their clients the so appreciated ice creams… I beg your pardon, Neve (Snow).
It was announced at the door of the Conservaria Pomona, a house specialised in fruits in syrup and snow, but also brewery and later pastry. The Pomona closed very recently, but in the corner of Rua da Prata with Rua de São Nicolau still remains carved in stone the specialties of this café.
Also the Café Gelo (directly translated to Café Ice) in Rossio that dates from 1890 and owes its name to the commercialization of the desired Snow.
The Consumption of Ice Cream in the 1970’s and 1980’s
If 40 or 50 years ago the ice cream was a treat of the hot weather, and on the beach the sellers preached the varieties “fruit or chocolate”, today the consumption of ice cream has become common during the entire year. Ice cream lovers enjoy them whether it is summer or winter, and the artisanal ice cream shops even sell them for take away, for us to enjoy them while in the comfort of our home.
In the 70’s and 80’s the consumption of ice cream in Lisbon was in vogue. In summer, after a stroll in the park or after a cinema session, the families liked enjoying a generous ice cream in a terrace.
The zone of the city that was in vogue the most was Avenidas Novas, particularly, the Avenida de Roma.
It is exactly in this zone that we’ll find the 5 Classic Ice Cream Shops in Avenidas Novas that we’re presenting you.
5 Classic Ice Cream Shops in Avenidas Novas
The oldest of our list of 5 Classic Ice Cream Shops in Avenidas Novas is the Conchanata that is situated since 1948 in Avenida da Igreja, in Alvalade. Although its original name Gelados Itália was changed, it is still owned by the same family of Italian roots.
All the ice creams are produced by the current owner and according to original recipes of his grandfather. The star of this ice cream shop is the Conchanata, constituted by four ice cream scoops, three of which are of your choice and one which is cream flavoured, everything glazed with a homemade strawberry sauce.
Summer is the season of ice cream but, if by chance, you like eating ice cream independently of the season, know that Conchanata is closed during winter.
Address: Avenida da Igreja, 28 A, Lisboa
This is a memorable ice cream shop inaugurated in 1976, situated in Avenida das Forças Armadas in Entrecampos. This ice cream shop retains clients with sympathy in their service and with their artisanal ice creams of classic flavours. Those who prefer bolder flavours, elect the ginger ice cream as their favourite.
The variety of ice cream bowls dazzle those who visit this place, particularly the Taça Mangia e Bevi, consisting of ice cream, fruit salad and whipped cream. Dare to try it in the late afternoon and skip dinner!
Address: Avenida das Forças Armadas, 51 D, Lisboa
This is a classic ice cream shop founded in 1978, right when the ice cream shops in Avenidas Novas were in vogue. Located near Praça de Londres, it has a spacious terrace so that their clients can enjoy outdoors the 50 or so flavours that are available.
From the classic fruit flavours to the ones of different types of nuts, but the one that is considered to be the most original is the flavour of Kinder Egg. The ice cream bowls served with flavours of your choice, whipped cream and sauce are the most appealing, not to mention the crepes and waffles that are specialties of the house.
Address: Avenida Manuel da Maia, 56 C-D, Lisboa
Casa do Gelado
It opened in 1981 in the so fashionable artery of the zone of Avenidas Novas, the Avenida de Roma. It is known for its crepes and for the famous cassata. There aren’t just traditional flavours of ice cream. Here you can taste more exotic fruits, such as the physalis and the kumquat, and even flavours that remind us of traditional Portuguese desserts.
It has a pleasant and well decorated terrace where you can take your time to taste these delicious artisanal ice creams made of high quality ingredients.
Address: Avenida de Roma, 28 H/I, Lisboa
La Fabbrica – Antiga fábrica de gelados da Avenida de Berna
This ice cream shop is located in Rua de Dona Filipa de Vilhena, next to Arco do Cego Garden.
Although it was inaugurated in 2014, this new brand originated from the same factory, which operated in Avenida Berna between 1940 and 1993, as the ice cream shop A Veneziana.
The current owner of La Fabbrica maintains the family memory of the old factory where he learned the art of making ice cream and keeps the Italian recipes brought by his family to Portugal alive.
Try one of their specialties, the spaghetti, consisting of whipped cream, pressed vanilla ice cream, strawberry syrup and smashed meringue.
Address: Rua de Dona Filipa de Vilhena, 14 A/B, Lisboa