If you are looking for a romantic Valentine’s Day gift, Italian chocolates are among the finest in the world.
“Italians are renowned for using only the best ingredients to create their recipes,” says food historian Francine Segan. The same could be said about their chocolates which rely on the finest regional ingredients.
“Italy was one of the first countries to get cocoa beans from the New World and has been creating fine chocolate for centuries,” says Segan. “The Italians were also the first to create the sublime combination of hazelnut and chocolate into gianduia, which led to so many of our favorites like Ferrero-Rocher and Perugina Baci,” she adds.
To assuage any guilt associated with this sweet indulgence, bear in mind that fine chocolates may be healthy, too, says Genny Nevoso, Executive Director of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West (IACCW). She points to a Harvard University study reporting that people who eat chocolate at least three times a month, live at least a year longer than those who don’t.
Ready to meet the challenge? Forbes.com has curated a list of some of the best Italian chocolates that can be ordered online for Valentine’s Day. They make perfect gifts for friends or lovers, all Made in Italy with stylish packaging. You may even want to treat yourself!
With roots in Turin (Piemonte), one of Italy’s chocolate capitals, Venchi chocolates date back more than 140 years All the company’s delectable chocolates are made with high-quality, natural ingredients; many feature hazelnuts and pistachios from the region that will appeal to anyone with a sweet tooth. Embellished with a beautiful flowery garland design, this Valentine’s Day tin has extra dark and milk chocolates, coupling elegance with romance.
Modica is a city in southeast Sicily known for its chocolates. This “antique” tin packaging of the small batch, fair trade chocolates made by Bonajuto reflects the company’s long history, having been made the same way for nearly 150 years (in fact, predating the Industrial Revolution and the birth of smooth chocolates). Bonajuto chocolates are made with only three ingredients: cocoa, sugar and spices (including hot red pepper, first used by Aztec chocolate makers). The textured red pepper chocolate truffles are dense, crystalline and a little spicy.
The third-largest confectionary company in the world, Ferrero Rocher began as a bakery in the town of Alba (in the province of Cuneo in Piemonte) some 70 years ago. These premium chocolates are made with the finest milk chocolate and hazelnuts and they’re easily recognizable because each piece is wrapped in elegant gold foil. The petite, heart-shaped Valentine’s Day tin contains three delightful pieces of Ferrero Rocher, an indulgent gift for your loved ones.
These sustainable “Made in Italy” chocolates have been produced in Turin since 1964 but it wasn’t until 2007 that Guido Gobino opened its first bottega (retail shop) in a historic building in the same city, followed by another retail shop in Milan. The makers use high-quality cocoa beans from Sara Mittal Venezuela, Ecuador, Sao Tome, and Mexico; PGI hazelnuts from the Langhe; and milk from the Piedmontese chain. Armani has teamed up with the chocolatier to offer two special Armani/Dolci by Guido Gobino Valentine’s Day gifts that are beautifully wrapped in packaging inspired by the Rigoletto wallpaper by Armani Casa. The cremino has a double layer of caramel and the hand-decorated red pralines, a soft dark center with cocoa nibs.