Italy has long been one of the main producers of chocolate in all its forms. The city of Turin, for example, has a tradition in chocolate making that dates back to the 1600’s, and it’s still today considered one of the chocolate capitals of Europe. It was here, in the Caffarel’s factory, that the first machine to mass produce chocolate was invented, and it was a man from Torino, Michele Prochet, who created the famous chocolate and hazelnut cream that gave life to Gianduiotto (firstly produced by Caffarel), the typical trapeze shaped chocolate that represents one of the symbols of the city until today. And indeed, Pietro Ferrero, founder of Ferrero and the brains behind Nutella, Ferrero Rocher and Kinder Eggs among others, was from a town near Alba, the land of truffle in the countryside not too far from Turin.
Today, there are still a handful of chocolatiers throughout Italy who produce outstanding chocolate following traditional preparation and manufacture, starting from the carefully selected chocolate beans, a Dream Team of chocolate makers representing the excellence of Made in Italy, from the creative genius to attention to details that give life to delicious and unique flavors.
The most famous chocolatier in Italy, Gobino’s factory is like a scientist’s lab where magic potions are concocted to give life to some of the best chocolate you could ever taste, from the traditional Giandiuotto and chocolate spreads to the more adventurous chocolate jellies, chocolate beans and chocolate-coated ginger.
Recipient of numerous awards in Italy and worldwide, Guido Gobino took over his father’s company and took it to new heights, always remaining truthful to the company’s mission: Chocolate.
WHERE: Guido Gobino – Via Lagrange 1, Torino
Guido Castagna is the rising star of chocolatiers. Based in the small town of Giaveno, just outside of Turin, and with a boutique in the centre of town, he has won many international awards in recognition of his outstanding work. His atelier is filled with the smells of the different chocolate beans, selected among the best varieties from Venezuela, Ecuador, Ghana and Madagascar, and come Autumn, the unique scent of locally-grown hazelnuts adds to the mix aromas permeating the air. The boutique in Turin is full of wonderful varieties of chocolate, a real treat for all the senses.
Guido Castagna Torino – Via Maria Vittoria 27/C, Torino
Guido Castagna Giaveno – Viale Regina Elena 14, Giaveno (Torino)
Started as a candy factory in 1914 by Lucia Peyrano, the company had to halt operations due to the First World War. When it reopened in 1919 the owners Lucia and brother Antonio realized the couldn’t compete with the bigger candy manufacturers and decided to concentrate on chocolate. Peyrano’s chocolate quickly became a huge success, and in 1935 the company patented one of its most unusual products Alpino, the first chocolate filled with liqueur. Today, Peyrano still produce their chocolate by hand in their factory in Turin, and today includes more than 80 different varieties of chocolate.
WHERE: Peyrano – Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 76, Torino
Mostly known for its intensely fragrant sugary candies, Pastiglie Leone was founded by Luigi Leone in 1857 in Alba before moving to Turin, where the company is still based. In 1934 Pastiglie Leone moved ownership to the Monero family, who is at its helm until today. Leone’s chocolate factory is the dream of current owner Guido Monero, who took years to recover Torino’s 19th Century chocolate-making machinery scattered throughout Europe, with the aim of producing bars, creams and giandujotti just as they did one hundred years ago. The result is a fine chocolate of intense flavour, like in the olden days, a taste we too often forget, a true indulgence of all senses.
WHERE: Pastiglie Leone – Via Italia 46, Collegno (Torino)
‘I am only a humble servant to chocolate, and my true mission is to help change the history of fine cocoa.’
These are the words of Gianluca Franzoni, founder of Domori, another new comer in the world of Italian fine chocolate. Born in 1997 out of the founder’s passion for chocolate and gastronomy, Domori is one of the few chocolate companies to own its own chocolate field, in Venezuela, which is where this journey started.Part of the Illy Group since 2006, Domori was the first chocolatier to draw up a Tasting Guide, an indulgent map guiding our senses through the discovery of pure chocolate.
WHERE: Domori – Via Pinerolo 72/74, None (Torino)
Another multi-award winner, Silvio Bessone was founded in 1986 in Loano, Liguria. The first chocolate-only laboratory was created in 1995 and moved to its current base of Vicoforte in 1997, where on top of his chocolate factory he has opened a chocolate hostel aptly called CioccoLocanda and a museum that became a hotspot for local tourism. Bessone is an artisan and true lover of chocolate, a larger-than-life character that oozes passion and enthusiasm combined with deep knowledge and real acumen in true Italian style.
WHERE: Silvio Bessone – Via F. Gallo 19, Santuario di Vicoforte (Cuneo)
Of course our list had to include a master chocolatier from Bologna, affectionately known by Italians as La Grassa (The Fat One) because of its tradition and passion for food. Born in 1796, Majani is famous for their FIAT Cremino, a proprietary 4-layer chocolate chosen by Fiat in 1911 to promote the birth of their new car Tipo 4. Winner of international award since the 1800’s, Majani’s success was awarded a special plaque reserved for those historical companies that have made the history of Italy.
WHERE: Majani – Via Dè Carbonesi 5, Bologna
An institution in Naples, Gay-Odin was created by Isidoro Odin, originally from Alba in Piedmont, but emigrated to Naples around 1900, attracted by the city’s lifestyle and vivacity, and his wife, Onorina Gay. Following the huge success of the first shop, they opened their chocolate factory in 1922, where productions is still carried out today. THe building was designed by Angelo Trevisan, one of the major exponents of the Liberty style in Italy and in 1993 was declared a national monument. Gay-Odin’s philosophy is that anything that cannot be made in chocolate can at least be covered in it, giving life to products as diverse and creative as giant Easter eggs and chilli chocolate.
WHERE: Gay Odin – Via Benedetto Croce 61, Napoli
These are just some of the best known chocolatiers in Italy, proud ambassadors and guardians of an art that has been passed down the generations, fine artisans whose creations awaken our senses and make us rediscover the pleasure of true, handmade chocolate.