Chocolate Heaven in Turin

by Thursday, March 24, 2016

Turin – or as the locals know it Torino, is the capital city of Piedmont. It’s also Chocolate heaven! Yep, since the 17th century, it’s been the chocolate heart of Europe. So, considering we are all salivating over yummy chocolate at this time of year (even for a ‘savoury girl’ like m’self), I thought I’d share my favourite chocolate location.

When I first went to Turin, I thought I’d be doing my whole story on the magnificent Agnelli family, who’s Fiat dynasty is based there. I am obsessed with them and their magnificent matriarch Marella. But I was taken by surprise when I learned all about the debt of gratitude we owe this place for giving the world it’s first hot chocolate and …wait for it …Nutella! Yes, the Ferrero family are sure fire legends to anyone with a sweet tooth.

So, let me give you some history. The first hot chocolate was served in Turin in 1560 at the court of the Savoy. A year earlier, Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy had received from Carlo V King of Spain a bag of cacao beans in praise for his services as general in the Spanish army. By 1700, elegant “chocolate houses” in Europe’s capitals served hot chocolate (with milk and sugar added) to wealthy aristocrats.

Cioccolato-dipendenza means chocoholic in Italian. You’ll find many a cioccolato-dipendenza on the streets of Turin. Chocolatiers of Turin were first licensed to sell chocolate in 1678. The nation continues to set the bar sky high, bringing in people from all around the world to visit the world acclaimed chocolatier, ahead of other chocolate capital cities including Paris, Brussels and Belgium. I can’t tell you the amount of places that sell remarkable chocolate, I had a permanent chocolate grin when I was there – the photo I included was taken just after I’d wiped all the chocolate off my teeth from my fist sip of Turin hot choccy. Darn it, I wished I’d taken that shot for you. Pure joy.

Credit must go to Turin resident Mr Doret, who at the end of the 18th century created the first ‘true chocolate’ as we know it’s taste today. Also, to Bozzelli who invented this fab machine that works the cocoa paste and mixes it with vanilla and sugar. Love that man. During the Napoleonic wars, however, there was a shortage of cocoa so they started to experiment with different flavours and textures. Anyone for some local hazelnut in your chocolate?

In 1946, in Alba (the white truffle hub of Piedmont) Pietro Ferrero, a pastry chef, thought he’d come up with a way to make a bit of extra money and whip up some snacks for the school children, he casually came up with the idea of turning that treat into a chocolate spread. But things didn’t go to plan and the hot weather melted the cream. That ‘mistake’ led to how he came up with our beloved Nutella! Which is now Ferrero’s numero uno seller.

Today, Turin and Piedmont produce 80% of Italy’s chocolate. So let me give you some tips for chocolate consumption amongst the locals.

  1. In the morning, you ask for a glass of bicerin, or ‘little glass’ to the locals, which combines hot coffee, chocolate and cream. Even better if you can consume this at the famous Al bicerin café in the Piazza della Consolata.
  2. In the afternoon, you stick to a rich hot chocolate, especially in winter.
  3. In the afternoon on a hot day, of course you can request a COLD ‘hot chocolate’.
  4. Easter is ‘boom time’ of course in Turin, so pop into the Gobino chocolate factory where you can see the chocolatiers or oompa loompas if you like, creating chocolate in the same manner they have throughout history.
  5. Call yourself a true chocoholic? The Turin chocolate festival, CioccolaTò is on November 10.
  6. Oh, one more thing, they also do heavenly chocolate and hazelnut gelato in Turin, its super creamy and served in most gelaterias.

LOCATION

Piedmont, Italy’s north-west region.

COST

Austrian Airlines flies daily to Australia to Vienna with connections to Rome.

Train tickets cost around $76. The journey between Rome and Turin is around 6 hours.