Florence’s 2019 Chocolate Fair

February 8 – 17ARTISAN CHOCOLATE FAIR (FIRENZE E CIOCCOLATO) Piazza Santa Croce. Open 10 am – 8 pm. Free admission.

Chocolate lovers, residents and tourists alike, are all counting down to one premier event, Florence’s Artisan Chocolate Fair.

For the last 15 years, Florence has the pleasure of hosting skilled chocolatiers from all over Italy who will come together for this indulgent experience. Providing the ideal backdrop, piazza Santa Croce is a place where the historic architecture will meet the even older tradition of chocolate. There is no question why the word for this delectable treat originates with the Aztec people: chocolate in their language means “food for the gods.”

It, nevertheless, has evolved from when it was first discovered in ancient Mexico. At the fair, one will find chocolate as a warm delicacy in a cup, swirled into a mouthwatering gelato or, of course, in its traditional solid form. For the adventurous, chocolatiers including Don Puglisi will offer this tasty treat featuring a selection over 16 complementary flavors like red pepper, bergamot and beer. After exploring the other booths, one cannot miss the chocolate fountain displayed by Fiorerosso.

Don’t be discouraged if chocolate doesn’t entice you. Guests are welcome to check out the numerous pastries, candied fruits and macarons to be found throughout the stands that are made with other sweet ingredients. Feel free to stop by for a breakfast of waffles, crepes or pancakes throughout the 10 days. Lastly, don’t forget to take home a jar or two of Stringhetto’s delicious spreads. Whether it be chocolate and pear or apple and cinnamon, it is sure to be a tasty treat for days to come.

The chocolate is clearly diverse, but the artisans even more so. Casa Don Puglisi represents a sweet laboratory of Modica chocolate, a term referring to the unique grinding of fair trade bitter cocoa paste and cane sugar which creates this trademark product which bears the Sicilian town of the same name. This workshop is also unique in its devotion to giving back to the surrounding community through a reintegration program for mothers, respect for the environment and social work for the marginalized.

Another ingenious contributor, DonaMalina, is based in Florence itself. The name of the shop reflects the chocolatiers’ inspiration, a woman who introduced Hernan Cortez, the conqueror, to cocoa and thus prompted it to spread throughout Europe. This shop offers the highest quality chocolate garnished with dried fruit and nuts, decorated for Easter or perfected as a detailed praline. DonaMalina’s gelato and creative ice-chocolate are two additions which makes their offerings one of a kind.

A parade of Florentine dressed in historical costumes will take place February 9 at 3:30 pm from the historic center, arriving in piazza Santa Croce. The pageant will be accompanied by the demonstration by Florentine flag-throwers. Different from recent years, the Chocolate Fair will be focusing on the craftsmanship of the artists and not feature events or instruction by the chefs. This is due to late confirmation of the venue.  (kimberly brooking)