CioccolaTO is an annual chocolate festival held in Piazza San Carlo, in the centre of Turin. It is truly a gourmet’s paradise. If you like chocolate, you won’t find many other places in the world that you can sample, buy and try as much chocolate as this, or in similarly glorious surroundings.
Piazza San Carlo is a beautiful square flanked by a large church, high end boutique shops and is easily accessible to all shopping streets and the numerous sight seeing opportunities that surround it. It is also home to four major coffee houses including Bar Mokita, Caffe Torino and Caffe San Carlo. Decorated with marble floors, ornately carved wood and huge chandeliers, stopping for a drink in one of these palatial caffes is truly an experience. Unlike the UK however, a coffee here is still just €1.
CioccolaTO is a celebration of Italian chocolate, from the traditional gianduiotti to the glorious ‘cioccolata calda’ (hot chocolate) - a drinking chocolate that is so thick you eat it with a spoon… We saw chocolate pizza, sugar free chocolate, gluten free, chocolate with fruit inside, on top, or with fruit on the side. There was traditional recipe chocolate and modern innovations. One stall we visited had over 35 flavours of hot chocolate, from white chocolate with Sicilian pistachio to dark chocolate with chilli. We tried the plain dark chocolate - it didn’t last long!
Throughout the festival you can sign up for chocolate tours exploring the range of different gianduiotti tastes and flavours. There are also masterclasses and talks on everything from chocolate tempering to cake decorating. Just as long as it relates to chocolate.
One of the days was named ‘gianduiotti day’. The gianduiotti is an historic chocolate from Turin developed in 1852 by Michele and Paul Caffarel Prochet. Hand cut into its unique ‘stubb’ shape, and wrapped in foil, the name given was “givu” – the local dialect for cigarette butt. The chocolate was officially 'launched' however during the Turin carnival of 1865.
The character of "Gianduja" - a gluttenous and bibulous character who represented Turin in the Italian Commedia dell'Arte, handed out these chocolates during the festivities. The name stuck and from then on, this particular type of chocolate became known as gianduia and the chocolates named gianduiotti.
During CioccolaTO, several of the stall holders selling gianduiotti dressed up in traditional carnival clothing. Chocolate companies from around Turin and beyond, showcased their own version of the treasured gianduiotti chocolate. Street performers, lighting and bands around the square also lent a carnival atmosphere.
Turin is a beautiful city with lots to see once you have had your full of chocolate. Previously the capital city, Turin was also home to the Italian Royal Family. As such there are more palaces, parks and gardens then any other city in Italy. Once you have had your fill of chocolate, take a walk down via Garibaldi, the central shopping road, under the large porticos of via Roma, or just pass the time away having an aperitif at one of the sumptuous caffe and enjoy the view.