Believe it or not, there are actually people who don’t like chocolate!? Really?! Well, you can bet that I am NOT one of those people…and, thank goodness, I’m not allergic to it either!
So, when I was in Genoa in May and my friend and tour partner, Emanuela of BeautifuLiguria, asked if I would like to visit a very special chocolate shop, of course, I said “si”!
You could easily bypass this unassuming shop in Genoa’s medieval historical center. But if you happen to wander down Vico dei Castagna, a narrow passage or “carruggi”, you’ll find a tradition made in chocolate…you’ll find Romeo Viganotti…
If the sign doesn’t pique your curiosity, one whiff of the aroma of chocolate surely will. And when you enter you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another time… a time when everything was handmade with love and passion.
And, today, over 150 years since the shop was founded by chocolatier Domenico Viganotti, preserving artisanal craftsmanship and a meticulous dedication to doing it “the old-fashioned way” remains steadfast and unwavering.
Domenico’s passion was inherited by one of his many children. And, over the decades and through several generations, until 1959, it remained in the Viganotti family. However, by the 90’s, the family faced a difficult decision. Roberto and Maria, childless siblings, were the last of the Viganotti family lineage. They wished to retire but what to do? Shut the business down or hand it over to someone who lacked the same passion?
The answer came in 1998 when a pastry chef with a singular love for chocolate, Alessandro Boccardo, was introduced to and hired by Viganotti. Demonstrating his commitment to the business and the Viganotti tradition, the business was sold to Alessandro in 1999. Roberto remained as a mentor and father figure to him until his passing in 2010.
To this day, now in its third century, Alessandro and his son Eugenio proudly follow the traditional recipes and handmade specialties and delicacies are lovingly made using the original antique machines and moulds.
On this recent visit to Genoa, we enjoyed a personal “behind the scenes” talk and demonstration with Eugenio. It’s such a pleasure to meet true artisans who are uncompromising in their commitment to quality and to continuing the traditions passed down to them.
At Romeo Vignanotti, they can truly say that their chocolates and other delectable sweets are “handmade in Italy” and only from the very finest ingredients available.
From the Ginevrine and Gocce di Rosolio or Queen’s drops to the Croccantini and Cremini, you know that you will be enjoying something very, very special…
And now, that passion and expanded into Pasticceria Viganotti (since 2010) located near the old chocolate shop and, in 2014, to Gelateria Viganotti in a 13th century building adjacent to the Pasticceria.
Blending culinary creativity with tradition in all of the locations, from cream puffs to cannoli and tiramisù to cioccolato and gorgonzola gelato, you’ll be hard pressed to choose from all of the mouthwatering possibilities!
The next time you’re in Genoa, be sure to satisfy your sweet tooth…
Vico dei Castagna 14 R, Genoa, Italy
Better yet, join us in spring 2018 and we’ll go together!
May 11-20, 2018
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