Ernest van der Kwast, author of a new novel about an Italian ice-cream dynasty, was inspired by a valley high in the Dolomites – which mysteriously empties every summer
When you think Italy, you think football, pasta, ice-cream. It was winter and I was in northern Italy, feeling a bit lonely. I had the number of an Italian ice-cream maker, so I gave him a call. He picked me up at Dobbiaco, in the South Tirol region, and we drove through the snow to a valley just over the border in Veneto. With an expansive gesture he proclaimed: “Here, do the ice-cream makers live.” It sounded so mythical I thought there had to be a novel in it.
My novel is about an ice-cream maker from Italy who has a shop in Rotterdam, where I live. It’s based on the tradition of Italian ice-cream makers travelling abroad to their ice-cream parlours at the end of spring and returning to Italy at the end of autumn. This migration is made by a lot of ice-cream makers, to and from cities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Germany.