Our journey starts as far back as 1560, when the city of Turin became the official capital of the Duchy of Savoy. To celebrate the move from Chambéry, then Duke Emanuele Filiberto, raised a cup of hot chocolate to the city as a wish of luck and prosperity.
Centuries have passed, but the relationship between Turin and chocolate has remained and flourished thanks to the many master chocolatiers who’ve made the city their headquarters. They continuously unleash their creativity, trying to find new ways for chocolate to taste even more divine.
It’s in Turin that the inventive genius of Michele Prochet created the Pasta Gianduja after Napoleonic restrictions caused prices to skyrocket. He turned to local goods, mixing hazelnuts from the Langhe Valley with cocoa and sugar to produce gianduja. A new addiction started spreading around the city.
In 1852, Pierre Paul Caffarel adapted Prochet’s idea to chocolates, creating what’ve now become one of the symbols of Turin: the giandujotti, pralines made to look like an overturned ship wrapped in gold paper bursting with a classic chocolate flavour amplified by the sweetness of hazelnuts and the creaminess of cocoa butter.
The name for these delicious confections came from a local mask, Gianduja, who had come to be the emblem of freedom during the Independence Wars and would introduce giandujotti to the public in 1865 during the Mardi Gras celebrations.
Caffarel Factory moved outside of Turin at the end of the 1960s leaving behind a trail of shops that had adopted the giandujotto as their distinctive feature. The Peyrano family set up shop in 1915 and has remained there ever since. Despite facing bankruptcy in 2011, the shop continues serving its loyal customers with dark chocolate shells, chocolate-covered coffee grains, and their special chocolate spread.
Gobino is one of the most famous shops in the city centre due to its proximity to the Egyptian Museum and the infamous cremini that leave customers wanting more after each bite: they consist of two layers of gianduja chocolate sandwiching a layer of coffee chocolate.
If the combination of chocolate and coffee is what you’re looking for, the typical bicerin will be perfect for you. A mixture of hot chocolate, coffee cream and whipped cream, preferably sipped at the Caffè al Bicerin will make any stormy day better.
Pasticceria Raspino is not exactly close to the centre, but the scrumptious Gran Cru cake, once again made with gianduja chocolate, and specialty chocolates are worth the 20-minute bus trip and it grants you the opportunity to visit a part of Turin usually ignored by tourists.
To further demonstrate that Turin rightfully deserves the title of Italian Capital of Chocolate, Nutella was created here by Pietro Ferrero right after the Second World War. The original spread was a mixture of hazelnuts, sugar, and cocoa called Giandujot. His son Michele picked the name Nutella– a combination of the English word Nut and the ‘sweet suffix’ Ella – once the Ferrero factory moved back to Alba, and the spread has been sweetening the breakfast and snacks of millions all over the world since 1964.
Nutella and other chocolate spreads are today being produced all over the city to feed natives and tourists alike, while chocolatiers continue to pour passion and heart into new ideas.
Prepare to be engulfed by the fumes of chocolate as you walk around the city, temptation blooming in every shop window as chocolates pile up to lure passers-by into tasting their deliciousness and to come back for more.
Here are some recommended chocolatiers!
Peyrano: Corso Moncalieri 47/ Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 76
Gobino: Via Lagrange 1
Caffè al Bicerin: Piazza della Consolata 5
Pasticceria Raspino: Corso Regio Parco 24
Caffarel: most chocolate shops in Turin
Photography by Cinzia Bertea