Italian romance wrapped around a hazelnut.
The unmistakeable silver and blue stars of Baci chocolates are rooted in romance from the very beginning. The year is 1922, the setting medieval Perugia: chocolatier Luisa Spagnoli invents a bite size delicacy for her beloved Giovanni Buitoni from a blend of dark cocoa and hazelnuts. Her little chocolate grows in fame and Luisa names it 'cazzotto' after its knuckle shape, but one day Giovanni allegedly claims, "Who would walk into a shop and ask for a 'punch'?" so they change the name to Baci 'kisses' and an eternal love-story is born.
Legend goes the clandestine lovers exchanged secret messages hidden inside the chocolate's foil wrappers but in truth Baci's famous love-notes were were an addition years after their production. Initially copies of comical proverbs and Italian sayings, the very first was signed by best friend Federico Seneca as a joke: Meglio un bacio oggi che una gallina domani - Better a kiss today than a hen tomorrow. Another by Giovanni himself read: Un bacio senza barba è una zuppa senza sale - A beardless kiss is like soup without salt. One can't help but wonder if these boys were having a bit of a giggle but in time, as the little chocolate's fame grew, the notes became serious, pertaining exclusively to expressions of love. Before long, Baci chocolates travelled as far as Arabia with love-notes found translated into Arabic in 1939! In 1960, they were officially printed in three languages; Italian, French and English and by 1990 the messages were written in five languages with the addition of Spanish and Portuguese.
Luisa's creation of dark chocolate smothering a toasted hazelnut on crushed hazelnuts, cocoa and vanilla, has remained unchanged since 1920. Through the years Baci Perugina have added versions of white, dark, red and the latest limited edition Dolce Vita - a fashionable collab with Dolce&Gabbana who've come up with some on-trend packaging while Baci Perugina have sorted the designer chocky. Lemon crunch with vanilla in white chocolate coating make this a special one.
But there's something special in every one of these quintessential Valentine's chocolates - perhaps the inspirational story of a person persisting at something she truly loved and her intuition which took the world by storm, her passion transported to who receives one of her own chocolates. Maybe it's roots that stem from the heart of Umbria: beautiful Perugia. Nestled between gentle rolling hills of strong tradition married to innovative thinking, Perugia is an ancient scholarly city, home to one of the oldest universities in Italy. Steeped in medieval history and cultured learning, was this matrimony of solid roots and sky-high ideas the recipe to Luisa's small business's success?
Or perhaps in the end it's simply the power of love.
Baci Perugina continuously come up with innovative ideas: in 1960 they advertise the simple chocolate as the most classic of Valentine's gifts, beginning a new era in Italian tradition; in 1963 they enclose Frank Sinatra discount vouchers in chocolate boxes; in the 80s they introduce the 3 chocolate tube and in 1997 an Alitalia AZ610 flight from Rome to New York enters history books painted in blue and silver stars as a giant Baci tube!
In 2013 the iconic tube becomes heart-shaped for Valentine's Day and the romantic option of personalising your intended chocolate's love-note is offered online.
But all the while, throughout a century of chocolate making, Baci Perugina exclusively use Luisa's original recipe, aptly named Luisa Chocolate, and Seneca's first ever logo, paying tribute to the honest and humble beginnings of a multi-national enterprise.
Choose your loved one, choose yourself! And gift Italy's most romantic of chocolates - two bites of an unrepeatable experience. According to Baci themselves: 'Baci® Perugina® is much more than a simple chocolate... it's a unique encounter.'
Che bello, I've just opened a Baci Perugina and my love note reads: ''To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance' - Oscar Wilde''
Now that's amore!
If you're interested in learning Luisa's tricks of the trade including her secret recipe, Baci Perugina have their own School of Chocolate in Perugia, offering courses in her masterful art of chocolate making.