Purveyor of Ice Cream to Europe’s Royal Families:
We were told that when we get to Cascais, we must have some Santini ice cream, the best in Portugal! The Santinis have been supplying ice cream to generations of the royal family but be forewarned that when we get to the ice cream parlour, the shop is very small, plain and simple.
We arrive in Cascais on a hot afternoon and the ice cream parlour is where everyone heads for. Pedro, our tour director, wasn’t exaggerating when he said that the shopfront is unassuming and seeing it for myself, I am wondering why a supplier of ice cream to the royal family isn’t in grander premises.
A young man was sitting at the front of the shop, eating his ice cream and I ask him if it’s good. He surprises me with his fluent English, saying that he’s been to Rome and many other European cities and tried all the famous ice creams and Santini is tops. So, into the shop we go and order our ice cream. I couldn’t swear that it’s the best ice cream in the world, but it tastes really good. The fruit flavours taste like real fruit and the cream flavours are really creamy.
Santini’s Royal Connections
The Santini family has been in the ice cream business since 1907 when their grandfather had an ice cream parlor in Vienna with links to the Austrian imperial household. Attilo Santini Jr. began his business in 1949 and 2009 celebrates the 60th anniversary of his business.
Santini’s royal links are not just with the Portuguese royal family. In the parlour and on their website, there are photos, press clippings and certificates all showing how Santini ice cream has infiltrated the lives and social events of Europe’s royal families.
Amongst the memorabilia are a thank you card from Princess Maria Pia of Italy, a cover page of the Italian magazine Epoca with a photograph of Princess Maria Beatrice of Savoy eating an Santini ice cream, a letter from the Count of Barcelona, dated June 23, 1955 thanking Santini for the supply of ice on the occasion of his birthday … and the list goes on.
Besides supplying ice cream to Europe’s royal families, the Santinis are also invited to royal events as well. There is an invitation to the wedding of Princess Maria Pia of Italy held in Lisbon and a photograph of Santini at the wedding of Infanta Pilar de Borbon at the Hotel Estoril Sol.
For an unimposing looking shop, the Santini’s royal credentials are indeed impressive. Looking at the photos again, the young man whom I spoke to earlier on looks very much like one of the kids in the Santini family collection of royal memorabolia.
So, when you’re in Cascais, be sure to head for Santini Gelati and try Portugal’s best ice cream. Santini is at Av. Valbom 28, Cascais.