All you need to know about Italian chocolate: where to taste the best chocolate in Italy, famous Italian chocolate brands and chocolate specialties you simply must try when in Italy.
Italian food is famous worldwide and foods such as pasta, pizza and gelato are so widespread internationally they have become symbols of Italy.
However, there are many more food traditions to tap into, while in Italy, and one of the most delicious and maybe lesser known is that of chocolate making!
Chocolate is not an Italian creation but history tells us that it made its way to Italy in 1560 and never left again!
The most famous cities for chocolate making in Italy are Torino/Turin, where chocolate is said to have spread first, Modica in Sicily and Perugia in Umbria, now home of the chocolate giant Perugina.
However, you can now buy many artisan and industrial brands in most cities in Italy and sometimes even online!
This is a quick overview of some of most famous Italian chocolate makers and 5 Italian chocolate specialties you want to try at least once in a lifetime.
Most famous Italian chocolate artisan producers
If you want to taste excellent artisan chocolate, these are names you want to remember.
Domori – founded in 1997 in Piedmont, famous for its use of finer powdered cocoa powder and famous for overseeing the whole chocolate production process, from harvest to sales. See their shop here
Guido Castagna – again from Piedmont, famous especially for his delightful cremini and tartufi, made with a precise natural production method.
Amedei – Tuscan chocolatier famous especially for their extremely dark chocolate, see shop here
Gobino – artisan chocolatier from Turin that also offers factory visits
Sabadi’, award winning artisan chocolate maker from Modica, Sicily, famous for their flavored chocolate in particular. see shop here
Good idea: Italian artisan chocolate makes a lovely and unusual gift for Italian food lovers!
Industrial Italian chocolate brands
As well as artisan chocolate Italy also has some delicious industrial chocolate brands, some of which are pushing the quality so high, they enter by right in this list of amazing chocolate to try in Italy!
Venchi – high quality chocolate maker with shops all over Italy, offering over 300 types of chocolate creations.
Notice the chocolate waterfall wall in their shops, it is quite a sight!
Caffarel – Caffarel is the creator gianduiotto, the first chocolate creation made in Italy and still nowadays one of the best known and most popular, easily recognizable by the distinct shape and golden foil of its wrapper.
Novi – makers of high quality chocolate bars (see below), they sell chocolate in all good supermarkets.
Don’t let the widespread availability put you off, this chocolate is amazing!
Ferrero – internationally renowned industrial chocolate maker, Ferrero is the creator, among other things, of Nutella and Ferrero Rochers, both very popular in Italy with kids and as a Christmas treat respectively.
Perugina – famous chocolate maker from Perugia, Umbria, Perugina is a household name and it is responsible of iconic creations such as baci perugina (see below)
5 Italian chocolate specialties you’ll likely yo fall in love with
Among the many chocolate specialties to try in Italy, these are my favorites.
Gianduia/Gianduiotti from Torino
Gianduia is the name of a delightful chocolate cream made of cocoa and Piedmont hazelnuts, beautifully sweet, smooth and indulgent.
I adore it but it deserves to open this list not just out my personal preference but because its story is linked to that of the origin of chocolate making it Italy.
Gianduia was born in Turin and its history dates back to 1806: at this time, the city was suffering from strict rules that make cocoa powder hard to get.
The clever Turin chocolatiers, in an attempt to keep providing chocolate to the local aristocracy, very fond of the treat, found work around.
Instead of the now prohibitively expensive cocoa powder, they added to their creation the powder from a local, easy to get product: hazelnuts!
The paste thus created was so delicious and so successful it became a staple of the area.
It also gave birth to one of the most famous chocolate creations in the whole of Italy, the gianduiotto, a chocolate morsel sold in golden foil paper!
Gianduiotti as we know them now have been perfected by Caffarel, who nowadays produces over 40 million gianduiotti per year!
Fun fact: the original name of gianduiotti was ‘givu’. The name ‘Gianduja’ comes from a traditional carnival mask from Piedmont who used to distribute gianduia chocolate during the carnival festivities!
As well as for gianduiotti, Gianduia is also used for many other chocolate creations such as cremini, smooth chocolate square with two layers of gianduia and a mid layer of coffee, lemon or hazelnut paste.
Artisan chocolate from Modica, Sicily
Modica is a stunning town in the South Eastern Sicily famous worldwide for its artisan chocolate (and its incredible baroque churches too!).
The history of chocolate here seems to date back to 1700s and to the Spanish domination of this area.
Thanks to the Spanish powerful trade routes, chocolate became very popular in this area and several documents record the local aristocracy banqueting with hot chocolate twice a day: in the morning and the evening!
Modica’s chocolate is very special in taste and gets peculiar depth thanks to the use of sugar, cinnamon, vanilla beans, coffee and chillies.
Modica’s chocolate is still made following an artisan tradition that preserves the sugar crystals intact and gives the chocolate from this area a distinct rough, natural consistency.
Italian hot chocolate
Hot chocolate in Italy comes in many forms that all have one thing is common: Italian hot chocolate is very dense!
So dense in fact that is almost a mix between a drink and a pudding and resembles in texture more a custard than anything else
The key ingredient to make Italian thick hot chocolate is corn flower and patience: it only takes about 10 minutes to make but for those 10 minutes, you need to mix constantly to avoid clumps.
Once the texture if achieved, the rest is up to you.
Plain, flavored, with cream, without – if you are in a real chocolate place like chocolate houses in Turin, Modica of Said chocolate factory in Rome, you will be overwhelmed with choice and you will be guaranteed to find something you like!
Tavolette Novi (Novi chocolate bars)
Novi chocolate is once again from Piedmont and made a name for itself especially thanks to its high quality dark chocolate bars.
Novi chocolate is an industrial product and you can find it in all good supermarkets but it is a high quality brand and the chocolate is delicious.
So much so many people who usually don’t like chocolate cannot resist this one!
Yummy and inexpensive, you won’t regret trying it!
Baci Perugina are one of the most famous chocolate bonbons in Italy.
They are an industrial product, easy to find in the shops, and they come as individually wrapped chocolate morsels with a hazelnut in the center, surrounded by a smooth sweet chocolate paste and then covered in dark chocolate.
They are sold ind distinctive boxes with a blue background and a solver foil and they are exceptionally popular for Valentine’s day especially, also thanks to their name. ‘Baci ‘ means ‘kisses’!
Fun fact: each bacio comes with a small note inside with a quote or saying: look for it before you throw the wrapper out!
I hope you enjoyed this quick overview of Italian chocolate specialties and inspired you to try some while in Italy. Safe travel planning!