Italy's ice-cream parlours let you 'bank' treats for strangers
ROME: It began as a charitable way to offer strangers in need a coffee -- but in a fresh take on the scheme, hundreds of ice-cream parlours in Italy are now allowing customers to 'bank' a gelato for people who can't afford their own.
The idea, dubbed "suspended ice-cream", was thought up by the Salvamamme association, which helps disadvantaged families and hopes the month-long scheme will provide treats in particular for those children who may otherwise miss out.
Enthusiasm for the project has beaten expectations, with hundreds of parlours, patisseries and cafes across Italy signing up.
The idea is a simple one: customers eat one ice-cream but pay for two, with the second one remaining "in suspense" until somebody who needs it can enjoy it -- for free.
Based on an old custom from Naples in southern Italy, the concept draws on the trust between paying customers and the shop owner, who is the one to decide who should benefit from the gift.
"I am a mother, and I know how I would feel if I could not offer my son an ice-cream," said Malian actress Youma Diakite, the campaign's patron, as the initiative was launched in an ice-cream parlour in Rome on Friday.
"One small gesture, plus another small gesture, plus another small gesture, results in big things," she said, as children with faces smeared with gelato tucked in happily to ice-cold cones and escaped for a while from the hot Roman sun. --AFP