A delicious journey to discover award-winning masters of chocolate making
When you think of Tuscany the first things that come to mind are gorgeous landscapes, masterpieces of art and architecture, great wines and excellent food. Well, there’s one more area where Tuscany stands out: chocolate making. Chocolate makers have proliferated from Florence to Pisa at superior professional levels (skilled artisans with the mouth-watering specialty of chocolate) and are drawing a new, interesting, kind of tourism.
In Florence, at Cosimo III’s court back in the mid-seventeenth century, the doctor Francesco Redi invented jasmine chocolate, which is said to have become a delicacy in great demand. Right in the center of Florence, not far from its famed cafes and temples of hot chocolate in the nineteenth-century tradition (Rivoire, Gilli, Paszkowski), is the tantalizing shop of the pioneer of Tuscan master chocolatiers, Roberto Catinari. His Arte del Cioccolato is set in a tiny alley right at the start of Via Porta Rossa. Catinari began his adventure in 1974, in the mountains around Pistoia. Then he came down to Agliana, and has since received a long succession of prizes and accolades. Another great master, Luca Mannori, is a hit in Agliana and Prato with his two shops/workshops.
From the Prato area we go towards Pistoia, where we can’t neglect a stop at Monsummano Terme, where the chocolaty creams, pralines and other specialties by Andrea Slitti are waiting for us, just crying out to be tasted.
We continue to Pontedera to find the chocolate maker Amedei and then on towards Pisa, to Cascine di Buti, where we find the Trinci roasting company, famed for their perfect toasting of cocoa beans. Once we’ve gotten to the coast, we can’t neglect a last delicious tasting at De Bondt in Pisa. Their sophisticated blends of flavored chocolate bars hold a memory of the Medici’s jasmine chocolate.