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Scottish newspaper article – early ice-cream parlours likened to vice dens

Some early 20th-century ice-cream parlours were likened to vice dens. It was the moral panic of the early 1900s, born largely of institutional racism, bigotry and fear of the evils of ice cream.

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Back in July of last year in Palazzo Pancrazi, the book “La via della Scozia” by Nicoletta Franchi was first presented to the public (article here)

The book had as it’s central subject matter the emigration of Barghigiana and Lucchese to Glasgow, Scotland during the late 1800′s onwards.

In November 2013 Nicoletta Franchi visited Glasgow to launch her book this time in Scotland (article here)

This remarkable book tells a fascinating story with detailed insight and previously undiscovered sources. It has been acclaimed as the most complete work ever produced on immigration from Barga to Glasgow and is written in an objective and academic way.

The quality of Franchi’s work attracted many Scots-Italians and a number of well known personalities including Archbishop Mario Conti, Leandro Franchi the honorary consul, screenwriter Sergio Casci, Adriano De Marco president of the COMITES, Professor Eileen Millar of University of Glasgow, Andrew Wilkin of University of Strathclyde and Carlo Pirozzi of University of Edinburgh.

The mayor of Barga (Marco Bonini), who was unable to participate, sent his greetings on behalf of the Community and described the book as an important contribution to the emigration history of Barga.

The pleasant evening even included songs by the popular tenor Martin Aelred and was coordinated by Director of Communication for the Archdiocese of Glasgow and founder and editor of the website Ronnie Convery.

The event was sponsored by Fratelli Sarti and the Fondazione Paolo Cresci

To find out if your family’s story has been touched upon click index La via della Scozia for a full list of names.

The book, edited by Fondazione Paolo Cresci, can be purchased by contacting

As you can hear in the short interview below (in English), their way in the world was not all easy at the start.

This weekend, the Scottish newspaper, Scottish Herald published an article about the book with the intriguing title:  Some early 20th century ice-cream parlours were likened to vice dens.”


A new book on the experience of the first wave of Italian migrants to Scotland lifts the lid on the opposition they faced from civil authorities, with ice-cream parlours equated with vice dens.

La Via della Scozia (The Road to Scotland) deals with the emigration from Tuscany and specifically from Barga to Glasgow and the surrounding area and focuses on the period between the second half of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century.

The book, which is written in Italian by Nicoletta Franchi, follows extensive research ­undertaken both in Italian and Scottish archives.

After a few decades where many Italian immigrants were employed making and selling plaster statuettes, the ice-cream trade became particularly strong in Scotland. Having received a good response from the locals for a new “exotic” product and a niche business that was not interfering with local traders, there were almost 350 ice-cream premises in Glasgow alone by 1900.

But it was not long before their presence and late Sunday opening provoked a strong opposition from local authorities and religious bodies, who saw them as places of immorality.

Before long, local authorities moved to pass legislation limiting the opening times of the ice-cream shops to no later than 10pm and ordering the total closure on Sundays.

The objection went on for more than a year, during which time the authorities in the west of Scotland would underline the “evils” associated with these shops, with the help of the testimony of police inspectors and sergeants from various parts of Glasgow.

One read: “A good sober minded Scotchman at the head of the shop instead of an Italian would not allow any nonsense. The ice-cream shops are not conducted in a satisfactory manner… they are mostly kept by Italians.”

Ice-cream parlours were even accused of instigating prostitution, with one testimony reading: “Numbers of young prostitutes use these shops as places of resort, and through their evil influence other girls are frequently led away. Boys have been known to begin a course of vice owing to connections formed in these shops.”

The fight to remain open even saw several court cases, with shop owners altering their premises to avoid falling foul of the by-laws.

Ms Franchi said: “This was about survival, they were determined in their ways and were ready to fight the battle at all levels with what local authorities would refer to as ‘a strenuous opposition by non-native ice-cream dealers’.” – source The Herald Scotland

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