There are few foods that people feel as passionate about, a passion that goes beyond a love for the "sweetness" of most candies or desserts: after all, few people crave caramel, whipped cream, or bubble gum. Chocolate is, well, different. For the true chocoholic, just thinking about chocolate can evoke a pleasurable response. Some studies seem to confirm that the frequent consumption of chocolate can lead to a particular shape of dependence known, by analogy with alcoholism, chocoholism. Others studies show how chocolate intake stimulates release of endorphins, which can increase good humor.
Chocolate arrived in italy with the Spaniards, who brought it from the New World into Modica, in Sicily, which still produces its chocolate following the original Aztec recipe; with the Venetians, who, always open to trade and new influences, started serving and drinking it in the city’s cafes; but it was Torino which really became the first capital of chocolate and, perhaps most of all, with the Savoy family—Duke Emanuele Filiberto who brought to Torino both his court and the precious cocoa beans, his son Carlo Emanuele I, who served hot chocolate at his wedding feast, and his grand-daughter-in-law Madama Reale, who granted the first chocolate making licence to a Turinese confectioner, Giò Antonio Ari. From Torino, Venezia and Modica it spread across the rest of the country.
A chocolacate-based icon of Troino is the bicerin, made of espresso coffee, chocolate and whipped cream. Invented at Caffè al Bicerin in 1763, the drink was a favorite among Italian and European aristocracy and artists. An other center of excellence is the Chocolate Valley in Tuscany, between Pisa, Prato and Pistoia. Also renowned for their historic artisan chocolatiers are Napoli and Perugia. Italy also hosts some of Europe’s most famous chocolate fairs, where chocolate producers and chocoholics from all over the world meet annually.
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.