Italian chocolate guide

A Choco Lovers’ Guide To Italian Chocolate – History, Makers & Best Italian Chocolate Brands

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As a chocolate connoisseur, your palate likely goes beyond the realms of Rocher chocolates to seek out finer chocolate discoveries. So allow me to reveal a whole world of exceptional chocolate waiting to be tasted in Italy. From master artisans pioneering ancient techniques to innovative flavor infusions that showcase regional specialties — Italy exudes a true love for chocolate at its best.

In this article, we’ll explore centuries of chocolate-making tradition, iconic treats to add to your must-try list, the cities behind some of the earliest chocolate innovations, and more. Prepare to have your senses delighted by the country any chocolate lover dreams of one day visiting!



Italian chocolate making

Italian Chocolate: What Makes It special?

Italy earned its reputation for producing some of the world’s finest gourmet chocolates thanks to these key factors:

Artisanal Production

Many Italian chocolatiers dedicate themselves to traditional artisanal production methods like bean-to-bar making and use time-honored techniques passed down through generations. This hands-on process allows them to control quality and flavor every step of the way.  

Regional Flavors

Italy’s diverse regions inspire for chocolate-makers to incorporate local flavors from citrus fruits to Mediterranean spices, chestnuts, hazelnuts, coffee, liqueurs, and more. These infusions showcase premium regional ingredients.

Innovation  

While respecting tradition, Italian chocolate makers also innovate to push boundaries. They create new flavor combinations, experiment with cacao percentages and production methods, and even design novel packaging.

Four Centuries of History

With over 400 years of refinement since its introduction in the 1600s, chocolate holds a special place in Italian culture and customs. That lasting history translates to expertise and aged recipes perfected over time.

Whether you prefer bold, silky, or nutty chocolate profiles, Italy offers an unmatched variety – from traditional treats like gianduiotto, to artisanal bars made from single-origin beans, to pralines mixed with local flavors. Savor a world of chocolate waiting to be tasted in Italy. Let’s explore it together.



Italian chocolate history

History Of Chocolate in Italy With Timeline

Let’s unwrap the eventful journey of chocolate first arriving and then evolving in Italy over the centuries – from royal drinks to artisanal creations.

Chocolate Arrives in Italy (1600s)

Chocolate first came to Italy in the 17th century. In 1606, Francesco d’Antonio Carletti, a merchant from Florence, brought cocoa beans back from his travels to Central America and introduced chocolate to the Medici court in Tuscany. This marks chocolate’s first appearance in Italy.  


Royal Approval for Chocolate (1678)

In 1678, the Royal House of Savoy granted the first ever license “to publicly sell chocolate drink.” This royal approval helped popularize drinking chocolate among the Italian aristocracy.


Innovations in Chocolate-Making (1800s) 

The 19th century saw several key innovations that shaped how chocolate is made today. In 1802, Genoese chocolate maker Bozelli invented a hydraulic machine to refine cocoa paste. And in 1865, Italians mixed cocoa with hazelnuts to create gianduja chocolate.


Rise of Turin & Italian Chocolate-Making (1800s)

The art of chocolate-making took off most in Turin, where the first “chocolate shops” emerged in 1826. Turin chocolate-makers pioneered solid chocolate and the first chocolates suitable for serving guests. As chocolate consumption grew, Turin became known internationally for chocolate production.   


Famous Italian Chocolate Brands Emerge (Late 1800s)

Many of today’s iconic Italian chocolate brands were founded between the mid-late 1800s as the chocolate industry boomed, including Caffarel (1826), Talmone (1853), Majani (1790), Pernigotti (1860), and Venchi (1878). They began selling chocolate specialties like gianduja and cremini nationwide.


cremini Italian chocolate

Iconic Italian Chocolates You Need to Try

It’s impossible to pick Italy’s top chocolate treats, but these much-loved candies, pralines, spreads and more deserve a spot on your must-try list.

Italian Chocolate Bars

Indulge in award-winning Italian chocolate bars known for their ultra-smooth and velvety texture. Popular premium brands include Amadei, Domori, Majani, and La Perla. Choose from dark, milk, or white chocolate.


Baci Candy

Baci chocolates are a quintessential Italian chocolate candy with a whole hazelnut tucked inside. The name “Baci” means kisses in Italian. There’s also a Baci milk chocolate version for sweet chocolate lovers. Italian chocolate Baci is a timeless gift for most occasions, be it Christmas or Valentine’s Day.


Novi Chocolate

Novi is an artisanal chocolate brand most famous for its gianduiotti, the iconic hazelnut chocolates. But they also craft a wide range of chocolate candies, bars, spreads, and desserts. Their chocolate stands out for its smooth texture and high-quality ingredients. Novi is a great pick for an introduction to Italian chocolate.


Perugina Candy

Perugina is home to the iconic Baci but also makes other chocolate candies like the Rossana with chocolate or hazelnut flavor.

In addition to candy, Perugina dark chocolate bars are loved by Italians. You can find them in other flavors like gianduja hazelnut, and even a Baci version.

If you want more Perugina Italian chocolates other than Baci, try Grifo with their mixed chocolate type (dark, milk, white) and intense flavor.


tartufi al cioccolato

Italian Chocolate Truffles

Italian chocolate truffles (tartufi al cioccolato) feature the intense flavors of dark chocolate, butter, eggs, and cocoa powder shaped into bite-size spheres or rectangles. 

While they were first created in 1895 by Nadia Maria Petruccelli, chocolate truffles only gained widespread fame in 1902 when a London chocolatier began selling them. 

Today they remain a beloved Italian chocolate specialty. For the best and most authentic, try the chocolate and pistachio truffles from Turin-based La Perla that ships internationally.


gianduiotti

Gianduiotto Italian Chocolates

A gianduiotto is a crescent-shaped chocolate stuffed with gianduja, a velvety hazelnut-chocolate blend. From Novi to Vanini you can find many Italian chocolate brands selling the Gianduiotto. Why not try an award-winning one by Guido Gobino?


Venchi is an Italian chocolatier renowned for its premium handcrafted chocolates. With a heritage dating back to 1878, Venchi has earned a reputation for producing high-quality chocolate delights; my favorite is Bacio di Dama. The brand is known for its innovative flavor combinations, luxurious textures, and commitment to using top-notch ingredients. Luckily for you, they have shops all over the world.



Where to buy Italian Chocolate

I know how it feels when you fall in love with a brand and can’t get your hands on it where you live. So let me help you avoid that situation when it comes to Italian chocolate. Here are my suggestions.

Shop in Italy

The best place to experience Italian chocolate is by visiting Italy itself. Stock up on chocolate from supermarkets, chocolate shops, and cafes during your travels.


Try Local Specialty Stores

In the US, UK, and the most other countries, you can find popular Italian chocolate brands like Perugina and Novi at larger grocery store chains. Specialty food stores like Eataly and Bell Italia also carry classic flavors from Perugina, Baci chocolates, and more.  


From Gourmet Online Shops 

For premium award-winning Italian chocolates from brands including Amedei, Domori, and Guido Gobino, check out online gourmet chocolate stores like Worldwide Chocolate that ship nationally in the Uk. 


Direct from the Chocolatier  

Many top Italian chocolate makers also sell products directly through their websites with worldwide shipping options. Visit the online stores of AmedeiDomoriGuido GobinoLa Perla Torino, and others to shop their full chocolate ranges.



The Best Italian Chocolate Brands: 2023 Awards

Discover the crème de la crème of Italian chocolate as determined by the expert jury of the 2023 “Golden Bar” Italian Chocolate Awards. These awards distinguish the highest quality artisanal and industrial chocolates made in Italy over the past year. This way you can get a glimpse into the Italian famous chocolate – popular in Italy right now.


Best Dark Chocolate: Amedei Toscano Black 70%, Domori Criollo 80%

The two standout Italian dark chocolate bars both hailed from Tuscany. Amedei took the honor for its signature blend Toscano made from Tuscan-grown cocoa beans. While Domori won for its rare Criollo cocoa bar with fruity, acidic notes.


Best Milk Chocolate: Majani Sur Del Lago 33%, Maglio Cuyagua 55% 

Majani from Bologna took the milk chocolate prize for its smooth and creamy Sur Del Lago. Maglio won in the high cocoa percentage milk chocolate category for its Venezuelan single-origin Cuyagua.


Best Gianduja Chocolate: Guido Gobino Gianduiotto, Gardini Nocciola di Romagna

Two gianduja chocolates stood out. Classic Pi brand Gobino won for its melt-in-your-mouth gianduiotti. While Gardini from Emilia-Romagna took honors for its gianduja bars with locally grown Romagna hazelnuts.


Best Filled Chocolate: Slitti Caffè Turco

Slitti, a specialty chocolate shop from Tuscany, clinched the award for best chocolate praline with its Caffè Turco praline filled with Turkish coffee cream.


Other Unique Flavors

The awards also recognized innovation in chocolate flavors like fruit fillings and aromatic spices. Sabadì won for its Sichuan pepper-infused bar while Gardini impressed with its milk chocolate flavored with salt and licorice.



Turin is the main city for Italian chocolate

Chocolate in Italy: Which of these is the Chocolate Capital?

While chocolate shops thrive across Italy today, a few key cities paved the way with innovations, famous brands, and enduring chocolate traditions since as far back as the 1500s. Let’s explore the sweet side of their stories.

Turin Chocolates – Royal History

Turin’s history with chocolate dates back to 1560 when Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy symbolically served the city its first cup of hot chocolate to celebrate Turin becoming the new Duchy capital. Of course, Turin is also home to the iconic gianduja hazelnut chocolates shaped like upside-down boats. Book a factory tour for a true taste of Turin’s royal chocolate traditions.  


Modica Chocolate – Ancient Techniques

Modica chocolate stands out for its ancient Aztec-inspired production techniques that leave it granular with sugar crystals and intense cocoa flavor. Cinnamon and chili pepper are favorite Sicilian chocolate flavors. At the Museo del Cioccolato, you can learn more about this uniquely textured chocolate.

Modica chocolate


Perugia Chocolate – Baci Born Here   

Perugia has been tied to chocolate since 1907 when Luisa Spagnoli invented Baci chocolates with poetic love notes still used today. Then she opened the Perugina factory and museum, a must-see for its rich history of chocolate firsts like adding whole hazelnuts.

Perugia is an Italian chocolate city


Venice Chocolate – Sip On The Oldest Hot Chocolate

Venice birthed Italy’s artisanal chocolate creativity back in the 1700s “Coffee Shops” which concocted hot chocolate recipes with aromatics. Have a cup yourself at historic Cafe Florian open since 1720.


Naples Chocolate Festival

Don’t miss Naples’ annual Cioccolato Festival held every November, where master chocolate-makers showcase their latest creations.


Milan Chocolate – Barbajada Drink

It was Domenico Barbaja who accidentally invented Milan’s beloved Barbajada drink by mixing coffee, cocoa, milk, and cream.


Tuscany – Gourmet Chocolate

At Tuscany’s “Un Prato di Cioccolato” annual festival, taste award-winning chocolate like the bean-to-bar creations by Amedei.


Bologna – Italy’s First Chocolate Factory

Majani was founded in Bologna in 1796, making it Italy’s oldest chocolate factory. See if you can tour the birthplace of this historic brand.


While other Italian cities like Naples, Venice, and Prato produce exceptional chocolate, none compare historically to Turin, the first true chocolate capital of Italy.



Attend An Italian Chocolate Festival

Plan your chocolate-filled trip to Italy around one of the country’s numerous chocolate festivals and fairs held annually. These celebrations showcase artisanal chocolate makers, new products, special tastings, workshops, and more.

Eurochocolate in Perugia

One of the largest is Eurochocolate held twice a year in Perugia, the birthplace of the Baci. Visit the spring festival from March 15-24, 2024, or the classic fall edition from October 18-27, 2024. 


Cioccolatò in Turin 

Turin, the first capital of chocolate hosts Cioccolatò every November where the city’s historic chocolate shops and guides fill the streets with the aroma of cacao. 


Cioccoshow in Bologna

In November 2024, Cioccoshow will come to Bologna, highlighted by chocolate sculptures and Majani’s factory. 


Festa del Cioccolato in Perugia

Perugia may host its Festa del Cioccolato this December 2024 – check for updates.


Modica famous for its cioccolato di Modica

Chocomodica

Also, keep an eye out for the timing of Chocomodica held annually in Modica to celebrate its uniquely textured chocolate.


With so many chocolate festivals across Italy, you’ll be sure to find one being held no matter when you visit! However, November seems to be the month when most individual towns’ chocolate festivals are held.



Chocolate In Italian + Vocabulary

We cannot end this Italian chocolate guide without teaching you a few delicious Italian words, can’t we? Let’s do it.


How to Say Chocolate in Italian

The first thing you need to learn is how to say chocolate in Italian correctly, and how to pronounce it too.

Chocolate in Italian is “cioccolato”, in case you didn’t know.

Listen to me pronounce it.

Italian chocolate pronunciation


Italian Chocolate Names & Types

Cioccolato fondente – dark chocolate

Cioccolato bianco – white chocolate

Cioccolato al latte – milk chocolate

Cioccolato amaro – bitter chocolate

Cioccolato da cucina – cooking chocolate

Cioccolatino – small chocolate

Tartufo al cioccolato – chocolate truffle

Cremino – a layered chocolate praline

Gianduiotto – Piedmontese chocolate bites shaped like ingots

Pralina – praline


Italian chocolate artisans

Italian Phrases to Describe Chocolate

  1. Questo cioccolato ha un sapore dolce/amaro.
    This chocolate has a sweet/bitter flavor.
  1. Il cioccolato ha una consistenza liscia/vellutata/granulosa.
    The chocolate has a smooth/velvety/granulated consistency.
  1. Il cioccolato ha un colore avorio/marrone.
    The chocolate has an ivory/brown color.
  1. Questo cioccolato ha un intenso profumo di vaniglia/ biscotto/ caramello/ mandorla.
    This chocolate has an intense vanilla/biscuit/caramel/almond scent.
  1. Il cioccolato ha un aroma ricco e persistente.
    Chocolate has a rich and persistent aroma.


Chocolate Words in Italian

Here are all the Italian words you need to speak about chocolate like a local.

Amaro – Bitter

Aroma – aroma

Biscotto – Biscuit

Burro di cacao – Cocoa butter

Cacao – Cocoa

Cacao in polvere – Cocoa powder

Caramello – Caramel

Dolce – Sweet

Emulsione – Emulsion

Fava di cacao – Cocoa bean

Ganache al cioccolato – Chocolate ganache

Gianduia – Gianduja (a hazelnut chocolate spread)

Glassa – Glaze

Hazelnut – Nocciola

Latte – Milk

Mandorla – Almond

Peperoncino – Chilli

Pistacchio – Pistachio

Profumo – Scent

Ricco – Rich 

Salato – Salted

Sale – Salt

Sapore – Taste

Spezia – Spice

Speziato – Spiced

Temperaggio – Tempering

Vaniglia – Vanilla



italian quiz time

Italian Chocolate Quiz: Which Italian Chocolate Matches Your Style? 

Our chocolate conversation calls for some creativity. So rather than end with a standard flavors quiz, let’s switch things up. If you want to be surprised and try a new Italian chocolate brand, trust your intuition this time.

Part 1

Find your perfect Italian chocolate match by choosing the phrase that speaks to you most!

  1. Refined Elegance  
  2. Adventurous Explorer
  3. Artistic Visionary  
  4. Classic Traditionalist
  5. Innovative Creator
  6. Fresh Naturalist   
  7. Sweet Sampler
  8. Complex Connoisseur
  9. Cozy Comfort Seeker


Part 2

Read the letter corresponding to your favorite phrase. You’ll find the new chocolate brand to try if you haven’t. I am also suggesting a product to try.

  1. La Perla’s sophisticated packaging and attention to textures like their velvety chocolate bars are perfect for those who appreciate elegance. Try the White Chocolate and Pistachio Truffles.  
  1. Amedei creatively pairs unexpected flavors using Tuscan ingredients for the artisan chocolate lover seeking adventure. Try the Toscano Brown Milk Flavor (blue wrapping).
  1. Guido Gobino is known for chocolate innovations and striking visual designs that will satisfy the artistic visionary. Try the Gianduiotto Monorigine.
  1. With over 225 years of history, Majani’s Bologna-based shop crafts timeless chocolate specialties like Gianduiotti. Try the Blanco de Cepe.
  1. At its laboratory-like chocolate factory, Domori experiments with cacao percentages and textures for those who love cutting-edge creativity. Try the dark Blend Criollo 80%.
  1. Novi’s chocolate bonbons spotlight Piedmont hazelnuts, pistachios, and oranges that will delight the natural flavor seeker.  
  1. Perugina’s seasonal assorted Baci boxes allow you to taste a variety of flavors in Italy’s classic chocolate candy.
  1. Slitti’s award-winning truffles and pralines offer contrasting flavors and textures to satisfy the discerning connoisseur. Try the Chocolate Figs Stuffed with Sambuca.
  1. Venchi’s thick hot chocolate and gianduja spreads are the ultimate way to experience chocolate’s cozy warmth.



Final Thoughts on Italian Chocolate

From Turin to Modica, iconic chocolates like Baci to Cremini, and signature flavors ranging from gianduja to oranges — our tour through the world of fine Italian chocolate has hopefully left you amazed. (And maybe a bit hungry, too?)

Of course, I’ve only scratched the surface of Italian chocolate mastery developed from a 400-year-old love passed down through generations. The good news? You can let your inner chocolate connoisseur keep discovering − one sublime, velvety bite at a time. The hardest part now lies in actually narrowing down what to try first! Make sure to take the quiz for inspiration.

Next, you should learn about something else Italians do really well – Aperitivo.



FAQ About Chocolate In Italy

What are the most iconic Italian chocolate brands?

Some of the most iconic brands are Perugina, Ferrero Rocher, Baci, Novi, Venchi, and Domori.

Where are Venchi Chocolates from?

Venchi chocolates are from Piedmont, Italy.

Who makes Ferrero Rocher?

Ferrero Rocher chocolates are made by the Italian company Ferrero.

What’s chocolate and hazelnut called in Italy?

Chocolate and hazelnut is called “gianduia” in Italy.

Who is Silviano Venchi?

Silviano Venchi is the founder of the Italian chocolate company Venchi.

What’s the best chocolate Italian city?

Turin is considered the best chocolate city in Italy by many.

What are some high-quality chocolate brands from Italy?

Some high-quality chocolate brands from Italy are Amedei, Majani, Guido Gobino, and La Perla.

What’s one world-famous chocolate brand from Italy?

Ferrero Rocher is a world-famous chocolate brand from Italy.

What are cremino chocolates?

Cremino chocolates are Italian layered chocolate pralines.

What’s the International Chocolate Awards in Italy called?

The International Chocolate Awards in Italy are called the Tavoletta d’Oro or the Golden Bar Awards.

Which are the oldest Italian chocolate brands?

Some of the oldest cioccolato masters are Domori (1725), Majani (1796), Talmone (1805), and Caffarel (1826).

What’s the best Italian hazelnut spread?

Nutella by Ferrero is considered the best Italian hazelnut chocolate spread.

What are the most unique types of chocolates from Italy?

Some of the most unique types of chocolates from Italy are:

What’s the best Academy of Chocolate in Italy?

The Academy of Chocolate based in Italy is the Accademia Maestri Cioccolatieri Italiani. It’s located in Belluno, Dolomites.

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