Written by Arnaldo Pangia
Romance never dies for Italian people, especially around Valentine’s Day. Italian couples from all around the Peninsula make reservations for romantic getaways to fancy restaurants, luxurious hot springs or exclusive clubs to celebrate their love. This tradition might sound dreadfully expensive and, spoiler alert, it really is.
Fortunate for all of us incurable romantic, you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune to impress your Italian significant other. Most of times you can just get away with a bouquet of red roses (never buy roses in an even number as it would cast bad luck on the receiver!) and a box of chocolate.
As a rule of thumb Italian people choose Italian brands as far as food is concerned, and this is also true in terms of their chocolate preference for Valentine’s day.
There’s plenty of Italian brands to choose for a Valentine’s gift, such as Venchi premium chocolate, Ferrero with its delicious liquor-stuffed Mon Cheri, Caffarel with its traditional Gianduja (a special chocolate blend made out of cocoa and hazelnut).
Arguably the most iconic and popular choice in terms of Valentine Day’s chocolate, however, is Baci Perugina.
A punch, and then a kiss
Perugina (Italian for “from Perugia”) is one of the oldest chocolate companies in Italy, as it was founded in 1907 in Perugia, a lovely city at the heart of Italy in the region of Umbria. It was only in 1922 that Luisa Spagnoli, one of Perugina’s co-founders, had the idea of re-using the walnut left over from other products that would have been thrown away, knead them with Gianduja and coat everything with dark chocolate. The result would be an irregular-shaped chocolate, which originally had the name of Cazzotto, the slang term for “punch” because it reminded the shape of a fist.
Back in the days Giovanni Buitoni was the CEO of both Perugina and Buitoni industries. He liked the product, but he thought that its name would discourage purchases. Ultimately, the chocolate changed its name to Baci (“kisses” in Italian). In addition to the romantic name, each Bacio includes in its wrapping a small piece of transparent paper with a random romantic sentence or piece of poetry printed on it, pretty much like a romantic version of the fortune cookies.
Bottom line: Italian premium chocolate + random piece of romantic poetry translated in multiple languages = perfect recipe for a heart melting special date (scented candles not included!).
And if the piece of poetry you get to read is so corny it gets cringy, you can also laugh it off with your special other.
This is what love is all about, after all!