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“Our ice cream brings people from all over the world – just for a cornet”

An Italian heritage, a secret recipe and some serious ambition – it’s a winning combo. Phoebe Stone heads to Wales to visit Conti’s, the family firm making exceptional ice cream


The Conti family story is the stuff of legend. In the 1930s, Artillio Conti made the journey from northern Italy to Wales – on foot. He was just 13 and the Italian economy was on its knees.

The trees sprouted tall and straight in the hills above Parma where he grew up – just the thing to shore up the thriving Welsh coal mines. Walking alongside the horse and cart full of logs, Artillio “followed the wood”, as his granddaughter Jo tells me, to the Valleys. Instead of making the return journey home, Artillio stayed, opening the first Conti café with his two brothers.

The trio went on to own 17 cafés in Wales and in 1946 began producing their own ice cream. Today, Lampeter is home to the last of the original, old-style Conti cafés. It’s owned by Jo, whose son Tom Lewis is chief ice cream maker. His girlfriend Heulwen is the café manager.

Lampeter is a small university town with an independent spirit. When I arrived I strolled past locally owned cafés, a traditional butcher and a department store complete with regal royal-blue awning. Conti’s café sits on a roundabout in the middle of the high street. Within minutes I was seated at a comfortable wooden table with a cup of tea and plate of cheese on toast, chatting to Jo and Heulwen.

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About delicious. Magazine

Fire up the barbecue, our globetrotting August issue has burger recipes everyone will love and a spicy North African lamb from Berber & Q. Gather hungry friends for our summer menu from Provence, Olia Hercules’ recipes from Georgia and Azerbaijan, and Eleonora Galasso’s casual Italian supper. GBBO stars feature, too, with Martha Collison’s great bakes and Chetna Makan’s Indian street food. Plus, chill out with our no-cook midweek meals and a pull-out special of frozen desserts.