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There are only three things you need to know about Turin. One, Nutella (as in the heavenly combination of whipped chocolate and hazelnut) originates from this city. Two, the first ever hot chocolate was served in a Turin cafe, and three, if you're after the annual Cioccola-Tò chocolate festival, you'll only find it in Turin. Plus, it’s free.
Taking place every November in Piazza San Carlo in the city centre, the stands are heaving, the hot chocolate’s steaming and the samples are free flowing. To a point you’ll leave with chocolate stained teeth. From competitions to chocolate workshops, you’ll lock lips with cocoa of all different sizes, shapes and flavours.
CHOC tip: If you’re not a fan of hot chocolate, try bicerin; a layered hot-chocolate but with espresso also. Only available in Turin.
Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
The name almost gives it away, but not quite. The best thing about Hershey in Pennsylvania is The Spa at the Hotel Hershey. Why? Because it delivers an entire assortment of chocolate inspired treatments. Including the “Cocoa Facial Experience” with an edible dark chocolate mask – you can literally nibble on chocolate straight off your face. And other alternative coco options including chocolate massages, whipped cocoa baths and even a chocolate fondue wrap. There’s also chocolate hydrotherapy, which sounds intriguing.
CHOC tip: Post pamper you can chill out in The Oasis restaurant, devouring mini chocolate desserts, Hershey Kisses and chocolate muffins. Or in winter, grab a big mug of cocoa and relax by the fire.
In Bournemouth one will find... Now, brace yourself chocolate lovers.
…The Chocolate Boutique Hotel.
No way. Oh yes way. The chocolate hotel in Bournemouth is a Willy Wonka wonderland of chocolate-themed rooms and fine cocoa splendour. The rooms are adorned with a tasteful décor of warm brown hues, cream and caramel. But who cares? It’s the daily serving of complimentary chocolate that we’re really checking-in for. As well as your bedroom, there’s free chocolate dished out at the bar. Which is also where you can sip on the hotel’s renowned chocolate cocktail. Or maybe you’re more interested in the chocolate fondue fountain? Or a chocolate workshop?
CHOC tip: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? More so when the menu includes the Chocolate Boutique’s infamous chocolate pancakes. Gluttony’s not a sin, it’s your God-given right.
Let’s play word association. When we say “chocolate”, you say?
Not surprising really. Not when the Swiss boast the highest consumption of chocolate per capita in the entire world AND the average Swiss person eats more than 9kg of the stuff every year. With green pastures and happy cows, they really do produce some of the silkiest, creamiest chocolate. From Lindt to Toblerone, Milka, Nestlé and Mövenpick.
For a truly authentic chocolate experience, visit the Maison Cailler factory located in Broc. Now owned by the Nestlé group, you’ll smell this place before you even see it. Smells like happiness - IE, chocolate. The history of Cailler dates back centuries and the factory plays host to a state-of-the-art visitor experience, with animated storytelling, a live camera feed, production process and an ‘all-you-can-eat’ sample finale. We’re not even kidding – purge until chocolate comes out of your pores.
CHOC tip: Open seven days a week except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, allow a minimum of 90 minutes for the tour.
How do you mix two of the world’s most delicious inventions? Italian food and milk chocolate. Easy, you visit SAID restaurant in the San Lorenzo area of Rome.
A former chocolate factory (and the oldest one in Rome), this modern Italian eatery now serves top-notch dishes, many of which are infused with cocoa. From chocolate ravioli to eggplant and chocolate sauce, it sounds like a disaster, but the entire menu is divine.
CHOC tip: Good luck leaving without indulging in some more sweetness. The restaurant is found in a dark, sleek and impressively suave back room, but on the way out, there is a glorious chocolate shop. Packed to the rafters with goodies.
Ah but of course, Brussels, the home of pralines. You can’t help but stumble across chocolate enclaves in the city that claims they make the best. Take a stroll to the charming quarter of Sablon, Brussel’s historic upper town. As well as the beautiful twin squares of Grand Sablon and Petit Sablon, all the big names of chocolate have opened stores here, including Neuhaus, Pierre Marcolini and Godiva. Don’t know them? Oh but you will. They make every other chocolatier look like a novice.
CHOC tip: Not simply the arena of chocolate, in Sablon you’ll also find striking antique dealers and inviting art galleries.
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