The best chocolate in Italy comes from this workshop in Turin.
There’s no town in Italy more steeped in chocolate than Turin, and in that northern city, there’s no master chocolatier quite like Guido Gobino. As the steward of a company with a nearly 60-year-old reputation for some of the finest chocolates in Italy, Guido Gobino has his work cut out for him—but with a passion for innovation and a world-class palate, he’s up to the task.
Guido Gobino Storefront In Milan
Turin’s history as a center for chocolatiers goes back to the 16th century. It was here that chocolate was first introduced to Italians when Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy brought some of the newly arrived treat home from a visit to Spain, whose explorers had just brought cacao over from the Americas. The curious new food quickly became a fashionable treat, and master candy makers in the area soon began perfecting their own recipes for chocolate confections.
Hot chocolate and giandujotto at Gobino
Many of those treats involved the local ingredients for which the surrounding Piedmont region is known, such as the richly flavored hazelnuts called nocciola Piemontese, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that their most famous collaboration came to pass. In the early 1800s, Napoleon blocked all French allies—including Italy—from trading goods with his enemies the British. Among the goods that were restricted was cocoa, which was grown in British colonies in West Africa. Instead of despairing, Italian chocolatiers got creative. They combined what cocoa they had with ground hazelnuts to stretch their supplies, creating an infinitely delicious new product they called gianduja. Today, you can’t take more than a few steps in Turin without coming across the confection, whether as a spread, bar, or wrapped chocolate called giandujotto, and Guido Gobino’s is the peak of gianduja perfection.
The Gobino chocolate empire began when Guido’s father, Giuseppe, decided to turn his experience as a cocoa refiner into his own business in 1964. He devoted his time to research and refining his techniques, looking to craft a more scientific understanding of chocolate than existed at the time. Today, Guido Gobino continues that impulse to study and understand in the Laboratorio Artigianale del Giandujotto. It’s the perfect marriage of tradition and technology; each piece of the iconic candy is mixed and molded by hand in the laboratory, while cacao beans are sourced from around the world to provide the perfect combination of flavors.
While the cacao may come from places as far-flung as Mexico, Trinidad, Java, and Ghana, most of the other ingredients in Guido Gobino’s chocolates are as local as it gets. Of course the hazelnuts he uses are pure nocciola Piemontese—in fact, the company has had exclusive relationships with a few local hazelnut farmers since 1997 to secure the best nuts. Milk comes from dairy farmers working in the nearby Piedmontese Alps, and even the sugar is from Italian beets.
All that hard work shows in the exquisite giandujotti, cremini, and other chocolate treats produced by Guido Gobino today. He’s partnered with Armani to sell his impeccable sweets under the fashion house’s name—no small feat for a relatively young business in a town where chocolate has been a way of life for nearly 500 years. And while his father’s name isn’t on the label anymore, the company is still dedicated in his honor; their cacao roasting and refining facility was named for Giuseppe to honor his lifelong commitment to the business of chocolate.