A trip to Europe wouldn't be complete without a visit to the historically-rich and romantic cities of Italy. Think Italy and the romantic waterways, gondolas, and awe-inspiring roman architecture come to mind.
Some facts about Italy
- Capital: Rome
- The birthplace of the world's most renowned artists, Italy has given us the likes of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Not forgetting one of the finest opera singers of our century, tenor Luciano Pavarotti.
- The Vespa culture originated right here, where Vespa scooters were first produced as a low-cost option for post-war Italians. They remain an integral part of Italian society and culture up till today!
- Although the economic crisis has caused some trouble for the packaged food categories in Italy, Italian consumers show no signs of giving up on their favourite chocolate confectionery treats
Afterwhich, make sure you visit the Vatican City where you can hope to catch a glance of the Pope in person. While the Pope is not always in, when he is you can expect to see him speaking from his window at St. Peter's Square on Sunday noons. Otherwise, Wednesday mornings are a good bet. Drop by the Vatican Museums in the vicinity, alongside St Peter's Basilica and Michelangelo's breathtaking frescoes in the Sistine Chapel that will all leave you feeling inspired. Do take some time to write some postcards to family and friends back home and post them from the Vatican City, where you can get interesting stamps and postmark as well.
If you have time for only one city, Rome is definitely worth the stop. As the phrase goes, "All roads lead to Rome". Indeed, most of the iconic Roman structures are located right here, reminiscent of the ancient Roman Civilisation once past.
Of the many landmarks to visit, you can start with The Colosseum. The ancient roman amphitheatre was built between 70 and 82 AD and host to countless gladiator, criminal, and wild animal fights. Be awed by the vast proportions and magnificence of this arena that can hold up to 50,000 spectators.
For all of you foodies who love to scour the local cuisine scene once you reach a new location, do go for 'Eating Italy Food Tours'. This tour will bring you through quaint neighbourhoods to experience Rome's mouth-watering cuisine - from fresh succulent tomatoes, to cheeses, suppli (pictured left), and wine! You won't simply be tasting food on this tour, you'll be taken on a stroll through historic spots and given snippets of stories and insights on the culinary culture as well as local traditions.
As a tip, it would be a good idea to purchase an unlimited Metro pass for the duration of your stay in Rome. Using the network of buses and trains, it's easy and convenient to get from one location to another. If you're a keen walker, you could skip the public transport altogether and simply go by feet as most attractions in the downtown area are relatively near each other.
This entire city is listed as a World Heritage Site, which is certainly no wonder when you take in the breathtaking sights and architecture. Take a ride on the iconic gondola down the Venetian canal, and enjoy the journey down Venice's picturesque waterways. While this city has become packed with tourists, its rustic and idyllic charm is still ever present. You'll find quaint stores and coffee shops down streets that are just alongside winding canals.
Venice is located on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals but linked by bridges, so you can easily take the water bus system that allows you to explore the entire stretch of the grand canal and smaller islands.
After all the touring, let us introduce to you what you've been waiting for. As home country of the world's famous chocolate Ferrero Rocher, you can expect Italy to surpass expectations of your taste buds when it comes to chocolate and confectionery products!
One of the chocolate names you can't miss in Italy is Caffarel, an acclaimed chocolate maker originating from the Piedmont region. Caffarel has a history of chocolate making that dates as far back as 1826, and has created a perfect harmony of flavours and tastes by using only the best ingredients of the region. Its reputation of highly skilled and dedicated craftsmen along with modern production techniques has made its high quality unmissable.
The Piemonte chocolate bar characterises the effort and precision Caffarel places in the production of its confectionery. For those of you who absolutely love hazelnut, you won't be able to resist the perfect combination of exquisite Gianduia chocolate packed with crunchy hazelnuts which have been toasted to perfection. You may be wondering - Gianduia? What's that? It's pronounced zhahn-doo-yuh, and is a type of chocolate made from hazelnut paste and sweet chocolate. This is one chocolate bar unlike any other -- its soft and smooth texture coupled with rich Gianduia chocolate make for a perfect treat. We would go so far as to say this is the best chocolate bar we've ever tried!
Dark chocolate lovers fret not, for Caffarel has the product just for you - the Tres Noir Fondente. These snack-sized dark chocolate bars are filled with creamy dark chocolate and coated with dark chocolate chips, a treat sure to melt in your mouth.
If you're looking for other tiny treats for yourself, the Caffarellino comes in the shape of an adorable mini cone, and combines crisp wafer with soft delicious Gianduia cream, drops of dark chocolate and puffed rice. This is great as a small gift for friends, and especially kids!
Besides their chocolates, you can be sure to enjoy their range of premium chocolate spreads - the Caffarel Crema. You can savour it in two flavours: Gianduia and Cacao Fondente (dark chocolate). While the Gianduia cream spread is the perfect combination of milk chocolate and 40% of the world's best Piedmont hazelnuts, the Cacao Fondente spread is a harmonious blend of thick dark chocolate with traditional ground hazelnuts. There are so many ways to enjoy these rich spreads besides having it with bread. You can give it a generous spread on your pancakes or crepes, dip some biscuits in it, or even use it as the perfect filling or decor for your biscuits and cakes!
If you're looking for traditional Italian pastries that you can relish and share with friends even after you're back from your trip, look no further than Melegatti. With a fine selection of Panettone, Pandoro and other cakes, they have a history that goes back more than a century, so you can be sure of its rich tradition and quality. Its products are widely popular during the holiday seasons like Easter and Christmas, but is really good for any season as it gives you a taste of the rich and authentic Italian recipe.
For those of you who might not have heard of the Panettone, it is a delicious Italian fruitcake that originates from Milan. The fruitcake has a soft and delicate texture and is adorned with exquisite candied fruit and raisins. Throughout the year-end holiday season, this Christmas delicacy can be found on the shelves of every Italian deli or supermarket. Whereas back home in Singapore, it's available right at our favourite candy store in the form of the Melegatti Panettone Milano! It doesn't matter that the holidays are over - welcome a joyful spirit whenever with this panettone!
Another traditional Italian delicacy is the star-shaped Pandoro, a sweet yeast bread originally from Verona. Unlike the panettone, pandoro doesn't have candied fruit and or raisins, but is rich in eggs, butter and sugar. Sprinkled with confectioners sugar, this certainly reminds us of snow-capped peaks and mountains of the Alps. You don't need to serve it plain, this goes well with various sauces as well - try melted chocolate, whipped cream or even mascarpone topping! Feel free to add your own berries or fruit as well.
A healthier and lighter option from Melegatti would be the Morbidi Risvegli, which is italian for "Soft Awakenings". These delicate handmade pastries are perfect for breakfast or even as a snack - and you can choose from both the croissant and brioche. There're different fillings and flavours to suit your every mood and tastebud too, such as chocolate and custard.
These products and more can be found at Candy Empire, alongside other Italian brands we've yet to introduce to you! Seek the nearest store to you and in the meantime, Buon Appetito!