The need to have the availability of a refrigerant for food and therapeutic use, pushed the populations to preserve, for the summer/spring period, the snow that fell in winter.
Even Genoa, with the “NEVIERE” built on the heights, managed to preserve and have the availability of ice in the summer period.In 1640 the Republic established the ‘Gabella della neve’. The Republic sold the exclusive right to trade in ice to a single entrepreneur. From 1667 this right was assigned by auction’.
After a snowfall, the contractor of the “Gabella” hired daily workers to fill the “NEVIERE”: truncated cone-shaped wells, with a dry stone retaining wall, 4/5 metres deep and 10/12 metres in diameter.
The snow, once placed in the “neviere”, was pressed with special beaters. Thermal insulation was provided by a layer of dry leaves and a conical roof made of poles and straw. At the bottom, a channel allowed the meltwater to drain away.
In the summer, employees of the contractor climbed up to the “NEVIERE” and cut the snow, which had already turned to ice, into prismatic blocks weighing about 10 Rubbi (79 kilograms). At night, to limit melting, the “lists”, protected with dry leaves and wrapped in jute sacks, were transported in pairs, on the back of a mule, to the Contractor’s warehouse in Vico Neve (Piazza Soziglia). Here they supplied the 15 retailers This is where the 15 retailers paid by the Contractor were supplied.
The “Gabella della neve” officially ended on 31 December 1870 and the “NEVIERE”, with industrialisation, were progressively abandoned.
(Club Alpino Italiano Sezione Genova Ule Scuola di escursionismo “Franco Barbicinti)