Italians celebrate lockdown’s end with ice cream

ROME (AFP) – Strawberry and chocolate or fig and hazelnut? Italians have been celebrating the end of the coronavirus lockdown with one of their favourite treats: artisanal gelatos.

“After a long period spent at home, many have chosen to cool down with an ice cream even during the week, at lunchtime,” agriculture group Coldiretti said in a statement.

The country’s 39,000 gelato shops, which employ 150,000 people and post annual sales of EUR2.8 billion (USD3.1 billion), were being “saved” by people’s desperation to spend time outdoors after almost three months inside.

The sector had “decidedly picked up again” following the economically-crippling nationwide shutdown, it said.

Nearly 240 tonnes of ice cream were consumed last weekend in Rome and along the Lazio coastline alone, but cones were being licked up and down the country in cities and seaside resorts alike, it said.

They were helping fight not only lockdown fever but also stickier than average temperatures, with this year being classified so far as the hottest since records began in 1880, Coldiretti said.

A whopping 94 per cent of Italians regularly eat ice cream, it said, with seven in 10 preferring it piled on a cone rather than scooped into a little tub.

Many like it with freshly-whipped cream on top.

A woman serves an ice cream to a customer at the Brivido ice cream parlour in the Testaccio district of Rome on May 26 as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection. PHOTO: AFP