Tuscany’s Chocolate Valley
The ways of chocolate
In the authentic, tradition-filled Tuscany, there is one quality that makes Monsummano Terme and the entire Valdinievole absolutely worth a visit: its extraordinary foods and wines. One obligatory stop in Monsummano is Cioccolateria Slitti, one of the Chocolate Valley’s hallmarks. Started not far from Pistoia, Pisa, or Prato, it has grown over the last decade. Today, internationally renowned chocolatiers have concentrated here. They have improved the quality of Tuscan chocolate, which came into being following the European Parliament’s decisions to authorize the addition of vegetable fats to cocoa butter and permit genetically modified organisms to be used without having to declare them on the label.
Andrea Slitti started producing chocolate in 1988. Due to his continuous research and experimentation, he is one of the best known Italian chocolate artisans in the world today. He has won all the most important national and international competitions. Slitti was the first Italian winner in 1994 of the Grand Prix de la Chocolaterie of Paris. In 1996, he won a gold medal at the Culinary Olympics in Berlin. In March 1999, he won four gold medals at the international competition Ikka Culinary Art Exhibition held in Salzburg. Andrea Slitti uses chocolate to create exquisite and exclusive products. These veritable masterpieces combine the excellent quality of chocolate with the inspiration and surprising mastery of an artisan who personally looks after his creations down to the smallest detail. Over the years, he has created unique, jealously guarded recipes, creating first-rate, aromatically rich blends of cocoa.
Other typical local delicacies are the brigidini di Lamporecchio, small crispy waffles made with eggs, sugar, anise, and flour. As defined by Pellegrino Artusi, this “special pleasure” seems to have undoubtedly originated with the nuns of St. Bridget, a 14th-century Swedish saint who often traveled in Tuscany. The brigidine had to prepare the hosts for communion. Towards the mid-16th century, the nuns improved the recipe for this wafer. The tongs that were used originally had, at their ends, two circular-shaped iron plates often with such engraved decorative motifs as stylized flowers, pinwheels, and suns.
The much larger Montecatini cialde are also very famous. Pairs of heart-shaped wafers are filled with chopped Apulian almonds and sugar, yet contain no butter or other fat. Perfect with ice cream, tea, or dessert wines!
Returning to Chocolate Valley, one important annual event held in Monsummano Terme during the month of January is Cioccolosità, dedicated to artisanally produced, quality chocolate.
The event’s objectives are to underscore the outstanding production of pure chocolate and Tuscan artisanal distinction in product innovation; encourage the consumption of exceptional products and of a more extensive taste education; and promote individual artisanal businesses via a diversified offer that maximizes local resources as well as “unique” experiences through other organizations in both Tuscany and other regions.
Via Francesca Vergine dei Pini, 1268
51015 Monsummano Terme (PT)
Phone & FAX: +39 0572 640240