Our History

  • Achille Donnarumma 1894
    In 1894 Achille Donnarumma (born 1880) came to London, England from the then poor fishing village of Minori, on the Amalfi Coast of Southern Italy. He would have either stowed away, worked his sea-passage or walked with others through France, although he was aged just 14 years. He worked and boarded in crowded conditions with other Italians in the London area known at that time as "Little Italy" in Clerkenwell and Holborn. His first job as a young lad would have been selling ice cream in small 'penny lick' glass containers on the street corners of London. He then learnt to make bread, confectionary and ice cream. He was doing this in London until at least 1901 or later.
  • 'Mr Carlo' 1905
    Achille Donnarumma was employed as a 'Mariner' when he worked his passage back to Minori and met Trofimena Proto whom he married there in July 1905. By 1906 Achille and Trofimena were living in a lodging house in King Street, Southampton, England, which was in a very poor Locality. It was here that their first child Nicolo was born. Achille had two older brothers also living in England. They were Nicolo, who chose to live in London and Carlo who was already established in Southampton. By 1909, Achille's brother Carlo was running a fruit shop at the prestigious 18, East Street. He was known as 'Mr Carlo' the 'Banana King' because he ripened his green bananas by heating his cellar. 'Mr Carlo' married an English girl, Norah Ryan, and they had six children. Sadly, 'Mr Carlo' died in 1923 at the young age of 45 years.
  • 'The Ditches' 1920's
    Achille and Trofimena eventually had seven children; Nicolo, Carlo, Domenic, Eleanora (known as Yana), Clotilda (known as Goodie), Amalia (known as Emily) and Francesco (known as Francis or Babe). Achille made a living by selling fruit and vegetables from a pony and trap. However, by 1913/14, Achille, Trofimena and family were living at 14 Canal Walk, off East Street in old Southampton (also known as 'The Ditches'). Here they ran a fruit and vegetable shop but also made ice cream. By the early 1920's they had acquired the adjoining building, number 13, known as the Horse Shoe Inn and set about converting 13 and 14 Canal Walk into one property, opening it as a very popular Ice Cream Parlour.
  • 1905
    So successful were Achille and Trofimena that they bought a large villa back in Southern Italy, on the outskirts of Sorrento. As a couple they visited alone for winter holidays though they were never destined to spend a happy retirement there. Achille died in London in 1939 and Trofimena returned to Italy where she died in modest surroundings in Minori in 1963. The Ice Cream Parlour in Canal Walk which in 1938 Achille had renamed D'Orsay Refreshment Rooms, was destroyed by the bombing of the 2nd World War.