In the Chocolate Valley

In Tuscany, between Florence, Pisa, Pistoia and Prato, a small group of cocoa artists make the very finest of chocolates.
When talking about Tuscan cuisine, you immediately think of so many delicacies from wines to oils, and of hundreds of dishes that are famous around the world.
A few years ago, an area of Tuscany started to become famous for producing something that isn’t always readily associated with this region: chocolate.
Follow us on
They call it Chocolate Valley, to give an immediate sense of the creative excitement of a large number of businesses involved in making this delicacy. It runs from Florence to Pisa and from Pistoia to Prato, passing from Monsummano Terme to Agliana.
Grotta Giusti is in a truly fortuitous location for a trip to discover these delectable wonders. Not only is its location perfect, but the atmosphere feels just right too. There’s nowhere better than its elegant and historic halls to sample your purchases calmly and carefully.
Its spa is ideal for combining the relaxation of the natural thermal spring with the pleasure of sampling chocolate like a true connoisseur.
Tuscany’s Chocolate Valley is a recent phenomenon created by young talents and established experts, by towering passion and local production.
Italy’s culture of small-scale artisanal excellence and the constant pursuit of perfection is returning, one piece of chocolate at a time.
These true gems of taste can be discovered by travelling from artisan workshop to artisan workshop, as they are so intrinsically linked to their creators and to where they are produced that they should really be described as such, with the first name, surname and the name of the village or town.
In Pontedera you find Amedei, the trading name of Cecilia Tessieri; in Pisa there’s Federico Salza and Paul de Bondt; in Montopoli you find Simone De Castro; in Cascina you can meet Claudia Matteoli; in Monsummano Terme there’s Andrea Slitti; in Agliana there is Roberto Catinari; in Prado and Agliana it’s Luca Mannori, and many more.
Among all of the companies and artisan workshops, you can find every possible application of chocolate reinvented in new ways, with original ideas and impeccable quality. So much so that artisans from Tuscany are now often prominently appearing in the great international competitions for chocolatiers.
Touring between the artisanal workshops, you can sample traditional chocolate bars, pralines, creamy spreads, tarts, cremini, chocolate ingots and chocolate sculptures. But there are also almond sticks and chocolate-coated puffed rice, chocolates created especially to be tasted alongside one of the most famous Sicilian desserts, chocolate marzipan, and even cocoa bean nibs coated in chocolate and pure Arabica coffee beans coated in extra dark chocolate.

The pursuit of perfection in taste and aroma requires knowledge and experience on an international scale and requires producers to select their raw materials in person, even by making long journeys to their place of production.
Some of these artists have refined their ability by studying at Europe’s great chocolatier schools, in France or Belgium, whereas others learned in an artisanal setting. Some of them entered the art of chocolate-making via their family tradition of coffee-roasting, a parallel world of flavours which gave them their sense and creativity for such an undertaking.
There are some common aspects shared by all artisanal workshops: respect for raw materials and a commitment to precisely following the entire complex production process from the cocoa bean to the chocolate bar. What’s more is the artisanal context, the link to the land and the vision towards the landscape of international tastes.

The Tuscan approach is a new approach to the art of chocolate-making, or perhaps it is a return to an older technique, to the time of the discovery of the Americas, when cocoa first arrived in Europe and it was here in Tuscany that they experimented with how to use it.
Testing, experimenting, almost inventing to find ways to make the most of its taste, thousands of comparisons between different varieties and origins, surprising combinations and the courage to reinvent traditional flavours.
It is a Renaissance of cocoa, with the humility to learn from the masters of the past and the courage of innovation in the future.