Turin city of art, sport and business, but also a real kingdom of sweets. Whenever I walk through the main squares and streets I can’t keep my eyes off beautifully decorated windows of confectionary shops and while drinking cappuccino in one of 19th century traditionally furnished coffee shops I can smell the atmosphere of old Torino.
The marriage of the first capital of Italy and the chocolate started in 1560 when Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy decided to transfer the Ducal’s capital from Chambéry to Turin. To celebrate this event the city made a toast with a cup of hot chocolate. But the real boom of food of the gods started at the beginning of 19th century. In 1826 Paul Caffarel inhis factory gave birth of solid bars (before it was served only as a liquid) by mixing cocoa with vanilla, water and sugar. In 1865 as first he produced famous Gianduiotti, one of Turin sweet specialties. Their name comes from a gianduia paste that was created in the middle of 19th century by Michele Prochet, a confectioner living in Turin. He decided to blend the “Tonda Gentile” hazelnut from the Langhe with a mix of cocoa (very expensive at that times ) and sugar. Today Gianduiotti exist in different variants of taste and they are prepared by many manufacturers.
One hundred years later la nocciola tonda gentile della Lange inspired another genius master chocolatie. In 1946 in Alba Pietro Ferrero, the owner of small pasticceria (confectionery shop), invented a new product - a spread chocolate based on cocoa and local hazelnuts served with a slice of bread. At the beginning it was called Pasta Giandujot, in 1951 it became Supercrema, to reborn finally with a new recipe (valid till today) as Nutella. His son, Michele Ferrero, decided to continue a family business transforming it into a global company Ferrero, producer of such famous products like Ferrero Rocher, Raffaello, Mon Cheri, Kinder series, Tic Tac and many others.
In spite of big manufacturers, Turin is famous for chocolate artisans. Such brand names like Baratti&Milano or Peyrano have been existing since the 19th century. Amazing Caffe’ Torino (http://www.caffe-torino.it/Caffe_Torino/Intro.html) was inaugurated in 1903. It’s located under the arcade of beautiful and spacious Piazza San Carlo and it used to host such personalities like Cesare Pavese, Ludovico Enaudi, Ava Gardner or Brigitte Bardot, not to mention members of Savoy family. Sipping cappuccino in its Bell Époque interiors, being served by elegant waiters becomes whether cultural experience than a simple coffee break.
Another fabulous place is pasticeria Stratta located on the opposite side of San Carlo square. It was born in 1836 and since then it hasn’t changed the image. In the past their sweets were served during royal official receptions, and today they spoil palates of the most picky gourmets. But what I love the best in this pasticeria, it’s their shop window. Framed in the traditional wooden façade for me it looks more like a picture, a piece of art, then a simple assortment presentation.
My sweet map of Turin wasn’t be complete if I wouldn’t mention about delicious Bicerin. It’s a traditional drink from Turin based on espresso, chocolate and cream. It has been serving since 1763 in a special small glass, from which he took his name (bicerin in Turin dialect means a small glass) in a tiny coffee shop Al Bicerin. Finding a free table there even in work days borders on a miracle and you shouldn’t be surprised if you see a queue outside.
In Turin there is also place for new ideas and new initiatives like Silvio Bessone and his project FIVE. He is a master chocolatier, the owner of Caffe’ Regio located in the heart of the capital of Piedmont (inaugurated in December 2013) and the chocolate factory in Santuario di Vicoforte (Cuneo area) in Piedmont. He believes the best chocolate can be created only by having full control of each phase of cocoa beans processing, so he doesn’t limit to buying raw material but takes an active part in its processing. On Sri Lanca and in Ecuador he established two biodanamic cocoa plantations and he personally supervises the process of cultivation, harvesting, fermentation, drying procedure, separation and roasting phase.
I had a chance to get to know his products and his project during CioccolaTo’, the chocolate festival in Turin, organized each year in November. It’s an unique opportunity to taste and to buy different Italian sweets offered by global and local producers, to take part in numerous meetings dedicated to different sweets manufacturers, as well as to participate in workshops with masters chocolatier or in many attractions dedicated to children.
My review of this event you will find on the following links:
I’m Polish blogger and freelance journalist tasting “la dolce vita” by traveling around Piedmont. As Italia is my passion since the childhood I’m happy having the chance to discover the kingdom of great cuisine and probably the best wines in the world, but also charming little towns and interesting history. My blog Bel Piemonte (available also in Polish and in Italian) was born to show the beauty of this region and to encourage others to discover this part of the Apennine Peninsula.Website: www.belpiemonte.com/en/