It’s that time of the year: it’s cold, it rains a lot, the body is adjusting to more hours of dark and that need for something soothing and sweet and dense and comforting is inevitable. You crave chocolate. And rightly so. It’s natural in autumn and it’s almost a moral duty while preparing oneself for the Christmas period. At least for me. So here’s a list of the cosiest sweetest places in Bologna where you’ll be surrounded by all the shades, shapes, flavours and consistencies of chocolate. Go and gather chocolate truffles, pralines, spreads, creams, tablets, sticks, fondues and fountains. Go like there’s no tomorrow, make me proud.
(Please note that I tried to prefer local and/or artisanal brands to the biggest names that you can find in every city of the globalized world)
Perfectly located in the Quadrilatero area, this little and semi-hidden artisanal shop on Via Clavature has been there for over 20 years, much longer than the bigger competitor on that same street (yes Lindt, I’m referring to you). And as soon as you enter you’re immersed in the cuddle of a perfect chocolate’s scent. The brand Roccati has actually been around for over one century, even providing chocolate to the Royal Family (yes, we Italians had royals. No, they didn’t make up proud, they really didn’t), moving its lab/shop from Piedmont to Rome, from Senigallia to Trentino, before eventually moving to Bologna. The atmosphere is cosy but sleek, the choice wide and solid, the specialty variations on gianduia, the famous melt-in-mouth mix of hazelnuts and cocoa of Piedmontese origins. Try the gianduia truffle “tartughiotto”.
Via Clavature 17/a, www.roccaticioccolato.com
When I lived in Milan, on my way back from visits to Bologna I used to bring to my colleagues Majani’s “chocolate tortellini”. This “cioccolateria” has been there forever and is the only brand among those quoted here that is actually from Bologna. Also an old supplier of the House of Savoy (yes, still the local royals), it even has the royal coat of arms on its logo. This enterprise dates from 1796: while the town was occupied by Napoleonic troops, Teresina Majani started a craft of cocoa delight in a shop in Bologna’s center. The brand is enormously famous for the “Cremino FIAT“, a square, creamy, layered praline that was an obvious homage to the Italian automobile’s manufacturer, but also for its peculiar “Scorza”, a solid shaped dark chocolate whose textures resembles a tree’s bark. And for its sweet tortellini.
Via De’ Carbonesi 5, www.majani.it
The latest in town with a small show conveniently located en face de Piazza Maggiore, this brand from Legnago (Vr) smartly takes advantage of the new infusion of tourists in Bologna by tempting them with a small chocolate fountain for a fondue-to-go and a little showcase filled with cremino blocks. However, its specialty seems to be the spreadables: 15 flavours of chocolate spread, from the classics dark and hazelnut to the more creative “white chocolate and pistachio” and “dark chocolate and mint”. I haven’t tried any spread yet, but had a dried ginger slice richly coated with dark chocolate on my way to yoga and my practice was excellent… So much so that I rewarded myself on the way back with a cremino: both passed the exam.
Piazza Maggiore 2/a, www.stringhetto.com
Adjacent to the famous gelateria La Sorbetteria, with whom it also shares property, this little boutique à chocolat is the creature of maître chocolatier Marina Marchiori, also co-founder of Maestri Cioccolatieri di Bologna association and, I read on their website, “Italian Food Ambassador” (a role I haven’t totally figured out yet though) in the world. Cute and fancy with a certain rétro vibe, it is only open September to April (it closes after Easter) and offers an elegant selection of cocoa based treats in the shape of pralines, truffles, little sculptures et similia.
Via Castiglione 44/D, www.ilcoccolato.it
Despite not being a chocolaterie, this cafe and gelateria offers an interesting little selection of chocolate tablets from Bolivian, Venezuelan and Dominican Repubic cocoa as well as remarkable homemade pralines, crafted together by the creative hands of Giovanni Figliomeni, that owns Gelatauro with his brother Cosimo. I tried their artisanal gianduiotti (great) and the lovely chocolate-coated dates, dried oranges and dried ginger slices, all great, but I’m particularly in love with their trademark creation “San Gianduia”, a small three-layered brick: one layer has almond gianduia and candied orange peel, another has classic gianduia, and the third is made of dark chocolate. Amazing. Also, they have one of the best hot chocolates in town.
Via San Vitale 98, gelatauro.com