Chocolate Valley? Wow, how had I missed this on my trips to Italy? I was looking at books on Italy the other day and ran across a place called Chocolate Valley located 40 miles west of Florence, not far from Pisa. The area is so named because it is home to a large number of high end chocolatiers.
Armedei, Paul de Bondt, Roberto Catinari and Luca Mannori are all located in the area. A chocolate bar made by Amedei has been selected the best chocolate in the world by the Committee of Experts of the London Academy of Chocolate three years in a row. You have to wonder how you get appointed to that committee. Many of the chocolatiers in Chocolate Valley offer cooking classes, factory tours and chocolate tastings. Some require you to book in advance but others are open during regular Italian business hours.
Turin, Italy is the city that made chocolate what it is today. In the mid-1600’s chocolate was only available as a beverage and was so expensive only the very rich could afford it. At the end of the 18th century a Frenchman named Doret living in Turin invented a chocolate machine that ground cacao seeds into a paste from which chocolate was made. Turin now produces more chocolate annually than France and Germany combined.
I have spent enough time touring Italian wineries and vineyards. Next time I am in Italy I am heading to Chocolate Valley, in fact I may plan a whole trip around a visit to Chocolate Valley. This gives new meaning to “La Dolce Vita”.