THE SISTINE CHAPEL AND SCOOPS OF ICE CREAM AT OLD BRIDGE GELATERIA IN ROME

The origins of ice cream would actually reach back to the second century BC although no one has ever been credited for the ice cream’s discovery. It has been claimed that Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. References extant in the Holy Bible would also show that King Solomon was fond of iced drinks during the harvest season.

In the Philippines, ice cream became a craze during the American occupation when refrigerators and cooling devices were then introduced.

Ice cream was actually part of my growing up years. During my toddling years and until my teens, we have in our household then a crude-type of an ice cream maker. It was actually a hand-cranked type of an ice cream maker which operates via some sort of a mortise and tenon system.

The outer cylindrical box is made of wood and a stainless-steel cylindrical canister  is placed atop a steel projection at the bottom of the wooden cylindrical casing. The steel projection protruding upwards enters into a cavity at the bottom of the stainless-steel cylindrical canister. A 3-inch space is created around the inner wall of the wooden cylindrical casing and the outer wall of the canister.

And to this created space, the pieces of cracked ice are placed topped with an abundance of salt. Some kind of a stainless-steel cover with a hole in the middle to where a long stainless-steel rod is placed, sits atop the canister. Then, when the hand-crank is turned, the mechanism above the contrivance would turn the rod and move the double-paddle fin mixer inside the canister that would eventually transform the mixture of milk and other ingredients into ice cream.

In the Philippines, we have a native version of the ice cream which is called SORBETES in the vernacular. While the American ice cream would have cow’s milk as its main ingredient, the Filipino SORBETES uses carabao’s milk. Coconut milk and cassava flour are two (2) other ingredients used to make the SORBETES distinct from ice cream made in other countries.

During my toddling years and up to now, SORBETES is still being peddled by street hawkers with the use of a cart ambling on large wheels  along almost all the streets of the metropolis. The peddler is even equipped with a mechanical bell that is kept ringing to announce to all that the SORBETES cart is near. Aside from the  SORBETES, the Filipinos also love another kind of cold refreshment known in the vernacular as HALO-HALO which roughly translates to English as “MIX-MIX”. HALO-HALO is actually a concoction of sweetened fruits and/or caramelized fruits such as the native banana, sweet potato, jackfruit, sweetened mung beans, sweetened meat of a special kind of coconut, gelatin, etc. which is mixed with crushed or shaved ice and topped either with coconut milk or carabao’s milk or cow’s milk.

Perhaps due to the tropical weather in the Philippines, most especially when it is sizzling hot in summer; the HALO-HALO, the SORBETES and the ICE CREAM are the favored and the most preferred cold refreshments in the country.

Thus, when I first went to Rome in 1999, I queued up to buy scoops of ice cream at the OLD BRIDGE GELATERIA to satisfy my craving for a cold refreshment. It was a quick dash to the gelateria (i.e. English translation: ice-cream shop) after I and Fr. Blanco went through the Sistine Chapel tour.

Before coming to Rome, I was of the impression that if you want to have a peek at the Sistine Chapel, you can just enter into a portal and VOILA, you have the paintings on the  Sistine Chapel’s ceiling to behold.

Actually, for the Sistine Chapel tour one has to start at the Spiral Staircase designed by Giuseppe Momo which leads to the Vatican Museum which consists of a seemingly never ending galleries of paintings, works of art and the like. Eventually, you end up as though it is the MAIN EVENT, with the Sistine Chapel. It was so awe-inspiring and magnificently beautiful! It was in fact described by the masters as “an artistic vision without any precedent”.

Exiting the door from the Sistine Chapel, I bought a small paper packet of roasted chestnuts which are openly being sold by street vendors within the premises adjoining the Sistine Chapel. Thereafter, I and Fr. Blanco dashed into an 8 minute walk to the OLD BRIDGE GELATERIA.

The Sistine Chapel’s main attraction is actually its ceiling, which depicts paintings done by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. The totality of the paintings is dubbed as a cornerstone work of High Renaissance art. The chapel has since time immemorial been the location for papal conclaves and many important services.

The central focus to the paintings which adorn the ceiling  are the nine (9) scenes from the Book of Genesis of which The Creation of Adam is the best known, showing  the hands of God and Adam reaching out to each other.

 Breezing through the Sistine Chapel, as uniformed lady attendants prodding viewing guests not to tarry while holding on to flashlights and continuously announcing that cameras are not allowed, gives one some kind of cool refreshment for the soul. On the other hand, a trip to the OLD BRIDGE Gelateria provides a colder refreshment for a tourist’s palate and into the whole of his gustatory tract. Thus, when I returned to Rome in 2011, I queued up once more at the OLD BRIDGE!!!

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