Turin is no doubt the chocolate capital of Italy. It is here where you can find the famous cioccolato caldo, a very thick, a little bitter chocolate drink topped with whipped cream, and always served hot. The hot chocolate, espresso-like drink called Sample bicerin is also a top seller and tourist attraction, as it is can be found only in Turin.
However, the city’s ultimate chocolate symbol is the clove-shaped Gianduiotto, which is an original creation of Turin. As far back as the 18th century, Turin was already a chocolate trading powerhouse. This is when the Gianduiotto was born. The mixing of chocolate with hazelnuts was the Turino chocolatiers way of maximizing the limited supply of cocoa beans in the midst of the British cocoa ban during the Napoleonic wars.
To celebrate Turin’s passion and love for chocolates, it hosts an annual festival called Cioccola-TO. Cioccola in Italian means chocolate, while the TO refers to the city of Turin. The dates for this unique and oh so sweet festival changes every year. For the year 2013, the festival will be held from November 22 to December 1. The main venue that will host most of the activities of the festival is the Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Surrounded by shops, boutiques and restaurants, the piazza is the entertainment and nightlife center of the city, and is one of the largest in Europe.
During this highly anticipated Chocolate Festival, expect to experience musical shows, chocolate tastings, competitions and workshops. Each year will take on an entirely different theme to the delight of the visitors and participants. You will learn a great deal about the history and heritage of chocolate in the city. Information about cocoa production and fair trade issues and agreements are also available for those interested.
Expect to see chocolate machines and photo exhibitions. There will be no shortage of chocolate samples as hundreds of chocolate makers from Italy and all parts of Europe will gather and participate in the festival. You will get the chance to taste not only Gianduia but also other various types – white chocolate nuggets, dark chocolate bars, chocolate liqueur and chocolate gelato.
One of the main events during Cioccola-TO is the Chocolate Show. This event showcases the top local and international chocolatiers exhibiting their latest and best chocolate products in the Piazza Vittorio. You will definitely see a chocolate demonstrations booth, where pastry chefs and chocolatiers will show the audience how to make, bake and decorate chocolate-inspired meals using intricate and superb techniques.
You will get to meet famous authors of chocolate-themed books and go to a workout area to assist you in burning calories. Children present at the festival are also not being left out as they are offered special interactive and educational sessions in chocolate-making. Another cool event that you should not miss is the Chocogadget exhibition. In this section, you will see electronic merchandise, which are designed to look like chocolates. Examples of the gadgets regularly seen include lamps, keychains, phones, and mousepads.
If you are a movie fan, combine your love for film and chocolate by heading out to the Cinema Empire, the cinema located within the piazza area. During the festival, it will feature international chocolate-themed films like Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, Chocolate and Like Water for Chocolate.