One of the major industries between the 1600s and early 19th century with the introduction of electrical power in Mallorca was the production of ice. Yes, you read right. Most people do not realize but winters here can get cold enough to get snowfall. By collecting and compacting the snow from the Tramuntana mountain range, locals could obtain ice blocks to be delivered to the wealthiest people in the city, around Mallorca and even abroad. The men are responsible for this job were called “nevaters”.
One of the businessmen who hired “nevaters” was a man called Joan de S’Aigo in the late 17th century. When temperatures started to rise, snow started to scarce and mallorquines found themselves in need to import ice from Barcelona, with a subsequent over cost. Joan came up with the idea of mixing ice with different fruits juices which soon became ice cream. It was time to evolve. Soon after hot chocolate and pastries came, and Can Joan de S’Aigo became one of the oldest chocolate shops in Europe when it opens its doors back in 1700.
Now, you can go to Can Joan de S’Aigo on your own or as part of a city bike tour. I recommend Call&Ride and join one of its enthusiastic guides. Take a stop to enjoy a typical “enssaïmada” while continue the chat with you local guide. As for the snow wells there are plenty of them in a different state of preservation along the Tramuntana. Depending on your physical shape, Outbound Mallorca will advise you on which one to go on hiking. One suggestion is to visit the snow wells of Galileu. The well at Son Macip, at the beginning of the trail, can be easily reached by the inexperienced hiker. However, the retreat would not be earned if you did not top Puig Galileu summit with and elevation gain of only 520 meters (1.706 ft), it might sound tough but the views are amazing from this 1.180 meter (3,781 ft) peak. Right before the final summit attempt, we can visit an excellently preserved snow well and imagine the harsh conditions “nevaters” worked and lived.
But, who was this Galileu guy? Antoni Catala, nicknamed Galileu, was an architect who in 1692 build a stone path and some snow wells which were constantly producing ice until they were abandoned in 1908, when the first ice factory opened. Later on, between 2000 and 2005 with a budget of more than half a million euros (just pocket money!), the snow wells are totally restored so you can get the impression, around 85 tons of snow could fit in, you can have a few ice creams with that!
Once our mountain adventure is over, we can eat at nearby, old-fashioned restaurant. There I recommend you taste “arroç brut”.
But getting back to our initial question, do you understand now that if temperatures had now raised, we would not have C’an Joan de S’Aigo?
Book with us or send us and email to learn more about how to combine this urban bike tour and the mountain walk with traditional meal included.