Roccati: the chocolate artist

Cocoa cannot be rushed. It takes two or three years for the plant to flower and five or six for it to bear fruit. It is perhaps this slow growth that gives so many different aroma and flavour undertones to the dark powder produced from cocoa beans. Experts claim that a single bean contains as many as four hundred flavours. In contrast, a rose, widely considered the fragrance par excellence, contains just fourteen. 

A glimpse into the delicious chocolate-making world of the Roccati family. Originally from Piedmont, they have successfully transformed the ‘Food of  the gods’ into an exquisite delicacy thanks to expert traditional craftsmanship and unwavering attention to quality.
Roccati chocolate is sold in two unique and exclusive chocolate boutiques: one considered the fragrance par excellence, in Madonna di Campiglio, next to the ‘salotto’ in Piazza Righi; and the other in Bologna in the historic heart of the city.

According to the Roccati family, chocolate must be ‘handled with kid gloves’.

Roccati is a traditional family-run business specialising in the production of premium-quality hand-made chocolate.
Mario Roccati and his son Andrea are responsible for production, while his wife Ilde and daughter Irene are in charge of sales, supported by Sara Viviani in the Madonna di Campiglio chocolate boutique.

the perfect balance between aroma and flavourAs we savour the deliciousness of the gianduia, we imagine Mario Roccati working diligently in his laboratory, decisive in his thoughts and careful in his movements, as he researches the perfect balance between aroma and flavour, the hallmark of his unique chocolate. We taste a delicious truffle and think of Andrea making pralines with their intriguing aroma, captivating flavour, velvety texture and elegant appearance. We take part in the refined art of packaging and await the new festive offering from Irene, enchanting collectors’ edition boxes that are a celebration of the Roccati style. We are let into this world of deliciousness as we listen to Ilde, a skilled storyteller, recounting more than a hundred years of her family’s cocoa -flavoured history.

a hundred years of Roccati family’s cocoa -flavoured history‘Roccati’s story spans more than a century of tradition and of the artisan business that this family, initially with a passion for pastries and then for chocolate, built from the ground up and passed down from generation to generation,’ reveals Ilde Roccati. It all began with four brothers who, at the turn of the 20th century, were working as employees of the Royal House at the Savoy residences of Venaria Reale and Rome. Three of them were employed as pastry chefs and moved to Senigallia in the summer where they had a seasonal job in a renowned café. The fourth brother, also employed by the Royal House, was responsible for looking after the waterways.

In 1909, two of the Roccati pastry chefs, Pasquale and Luigi, fine interpreters of artisan know- how, together with their sister Teresa, who proved to be the business brain of the entire enterprise, decided to go it alone and chose the seaside resort on the shores of the Adriatic to open their own ‘Roccati Turin bakery’, specialising in beignets, sugared almonds, nougat, caramel, jams and chocolate, made according to the finest Piedmontese tradition. It was a great success. The years went by and the artisan bakery of the three founders, none of whom had any children, was inherited by Angelo Roccati, father of the current owner Mario. ‘My father-in-law, having gained a wealth of experience in the most renowned bakeries in Turin, was a true pastry artist,’ Mrs Roccati proudly asserts.

Mario RoccatiThe Senigallia-based enterprise, which flourished at the dawn of the new century, put down roots and continued to thrive year after year. Then came 1968. Angelo Roccati suddenly passed away and it fell to his son Mario, then a young chemistry undergraduate, to make the big decisions, opting to abandon plans already in place for a more unexpected path. His passion for chocolate, which the youngest descendent of the handmade delicacy dynasty had flowing through his veins, blossomed and new pages in the history of the renowned ‘Turin Bakery’ were ready to be written.


Roccati’s traditional and historic recipes are characterised by the hand-made quality of the many products created by the expert blend of chocolates of varying degrees of bitterness, acidity and aftertaste.

The Roccati bakery in Madonna di CampiglioMario Roccati followed in the footsteps of his predecessors and, as the new head of the family business, decided to focus more on chocolate, which he would always make by hand, first in his lab in Senigallia until 1989, and then in the Trentino mountains of Madonna di Campiglio until 1996.

Its relocation here, where the Brenta Dolomites meet the peaks of the Adamello-Presanella Alps, all came to be thanks to the intuition and obstinacy of engineer Riccardo Maturi. The idea of moving from the sea to the mountains took shape one spring day. ‘I remember Sunday 8 May 1989 as if it were yesterday,’-recalls Mrs Ilde. ‘We had a lot of work to do. Mr Maturi, an engineer and one of our most loyal customers, came into the bakery, bought a tray of mignon allo zabaione and said goodbye. However, he soon returned, saying that he needed to talk with us. After a brief chat, he ventures his proposal to transfer our business to Campiglio. We had been thinking about moving away from Senigallia, our home for eighty years, for some time, but Mr Maturi’s idea still took us by surprise.

This first encounter was followed by a telephone call, until he persuaded us to come to Campiglio for a meeting. We ate at Saint Hubertus and just a few words with the maître d’, who knew the town inside out, were enough to convince us that taking over Maturi’s bar could be a very interesting opportunity. The decision was made; we sold our bakery and left Senigallia for a mountain town we had never been to before.’ In the ‘Alpine village’ of time immemorial, the Roccati family opened their bakery, where for seven years they dedicated more and more space to the bitter-sweet notes of chocolate.

The ‘heart’ of the gianduia with whole hazelnuts resembles the earth, the mountains and the rock.

...and in BolognaIn the mid-nineties, Ilde and Mario’s children expressed their desire to leave the Alpine resort and put down roots elsewhere, and it was Irene who came up with the idea of focussing solely on chocolate. Piedmont. Marche. Trentino. Emilia-Romagna. Trentino, again. These regions of Italy mark the pages of the family’s history. ‘The next chapter,’ continues Ilde Roccati, ‘takes us to Bologna where we opened our chocolate boutique with open lab. In the city of Majani, the titan in chocolate since 1796, we introduced ourselves with traditional ‘naked’ chocolates from Turin. Many people asked us, ‘What did you come here to do?’ The answer was that we had followed our own path and carved out a space for ourselves, without ever forgetting Campiglio.’ Then, in 2007, the Bologna laboratory-boutique was renovated and the retail area expanded to offer a wider range of products. Seven years ago, in 2016, the Roccati brand made a high altitude return with the opening of a second shop in Madonna di Campiglio, a chocolate jewellers that replicates the delicious Bologna boutique on a smaller scale.

the best out of the raw materialsChocolate and pralines leave the city of Bologna every week and are delivered to the foot of the Brenta Dolomites, where finishing touches are applied to some specialities. ‘We are constantly striving to get the best out of the raw materials we use - just cocoa, cocoa butter and hazelnuts, with no added fat - always chosen with care and the utmost attention to quality. Gianduia and cremino are our flagship products,’ explains Ilde Roccati.

The cocoa market is very complex, and the plant is only processed by five companies in the whole of Europe. We opt for excellence every day and put our faith in two companies, one Swiss and the other French, which import the cocoa in bulk from Venezuela and Madagascar. For 100% bitter cocoa, we only use the most refined Criollo variety (which represents just 0.001% of global cocoa production).’ Of all of Roccati’s delicacies, a special position is held by gianduia: numerous and highly sought- after creations that combine chocolate with Piedmontese hazelnuts from the Langhe sourced by a single trusted supplier.

Pralines, Andrea Roccati’s speciality

The ‘maxi’ mountain of chocolate filled with select hazelnuts that can weigh up to twenty kilograms is a sight to behold. The expert eye of photographer Marco Varoli has captured the heart of this delicious creation which represents the creative power of the Earth and the majesty of the mountains. The little cakes have their own unique flavour of three different mixes of gianduia that have to be tasted to be believed, while bookworms will love the ‘Dark chocolate books’, which conceal within them the true culture of the combination of milk gianduia and hazelnuts. Literature and the art of chocolate harmoniously combine in ‘dolci pensieri‘- handmade dark chocolate cards adorned with hand-written personalised messages.

If, as experts claim, understanding chocolate means giving yourself time to enjoy it by immersing yourself in an experience that involves the five senses, the goodness and beauty of Roccati chocolate evokes the magic of childhood wonder because, as Ilde Roccati explains while leafing through the pages of her family history sweetened by the smell of cocoa, ‘the look in a child’s eye says everything about our chocolate’.

Mario Roccati's chocolate, the fruit of knowledge perfected over time.

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