Posted by & filed under Travel Post Monthly.

by Mary Ann Hejny

Mmmmm—chocolate, chocolate, chocolate everywhere! A chocoholic’s fantasy, The Great Festival of Chocolate—finally, a dream come true! Turin (or Torino, as locals refer to their city), Italy has been hosting an annual, weeklong chocolate festival in the chocolate capital of the world for the past several years. My fellow travelers and I stumbled into this festival while on a visit to northern Italy. 

The first segment of our journey started in Torino, to visit a relative shortly after the 2006 Winter Olympics. We were delighted to be able to enjoy the pride exhibited by the host city. Many areas of Torino had colorful banners and displays. Electric-light decorations strung from building to building across their narrow streets told stories with word-shaped colored tube lights. 

The second leg of our week-long stay in Italy included a visit to the incredible city of Florence. Though the late-March weather was not ideal for sight-seeing and people-watching, it did not stop us from exploring the city and its famous Uffizi museum. Absorbing the environment and character of Florence was enough for me. 

On the third (and most awesome) part of our adventure, we returned to Torino to find vendors and exhibitors setting up their booths for many different chocolate creations and tastes. We were in the Piazza San Carlo, where the Paralympic ceremonies were held. A chocolate school was represented where students learned how to make this heavenly and aromatic delight. Vendors and manufacturers were selling chocolate pasta.

Numerous tents and booths lined the piazza as well as both sides of the main street, Via Garibaldi. All kinds of delicious chocolate were available, from dark to milk, filled with liquor and/or flavored crèmes, solid, and in different shapes. Many were wrapped in colorful foil. The Italian specialty is gianduiotti chocolate, a rich, smooth, concentrated chocolate blended with hazelnut for an incredible taste that is not overly sweet. One taste and you can understand the passion the Italians have for chocolate and their gianduiotti. For me, the excitement was the same as for a kid at Christmas time—not knowing what to see or taste first! It was a delicious treat for the senses.

This event is truly a chocoholic’s dream come true. So much high-quality chocolate in different forms and variations in one place at the same time! Such temptation is meant to be indulged in with abandon. Italians know how to make the best chocolate and how to celebrate it, too. 

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