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Twenty-one years ago in 1998, Cecilia Tessieri imagined the first Amedei chocolate bar called the Toscano Black 70, which was later awarded the Gold Medal at the Chocolate Academy in London for the blend tinged with hints of tobacco and toasted malt. They recommend combining it with sweet liqueur wines such as Banyuls, or with a Magnolia perfume that finds where the roots sink in the earth, the taste of trunk and bark – while the leaves that frame the petals are as soft as pasta. A touch of citrus and pepper, the heart of green accords, and dry woods – whether it’s perfume or chocolate. The Toscano Black 70 was born after eight years of experimentation in a laboratory that initially produced pralines.

Stop 1 – Orta Lake 

This journey through the history, culture and aromas of September, between rain water and the warmth of a fireplace, starts in the north on the shore of a hidden lake. On this side of the lake, before the Second World War, an agreement between Italy and Germany allowed the Bemberg company to install a factory producing rayon: it required a large quantity of water supplied by the lake.  The Bemberg released ammonia that reacted with the copper and heavy metals discarded in the chrome plating processes. In the 30s it exploded in environmental damage and extinguished the lake: eliminating life in the water. Children were prohibited from swimming. In the 1980s the Institute for the Study of Ecosystems in Pallanza, part of the CNR, recovered tons of bicarbonate from a nearby quarry and poured it into the lake. The pH of the water stabilized, the metals settled under the silt. A story of rebirth, Daniela Fantini remembers: the royal perch was the first to return, with majestic courage. Within a short time the eels and carp returned. Then wild ducks and swans. Freshwater crayfish reappeared on the shores, and mussels at the bottom of the lake, which slowly worked to clean the subsoil from the silent metals. Today Lake Orta is one of the cleanest basins in Italy, the water is drinkable even at depths of ten meters. Now the tapware and faucet district along its banks and in the surrounding valleys is more attentive to the environmental impact of the industry. Daniela Fantini is the Lady of this Lake – if in a Lady we find a protective and benevolent meaning we remember from medieval sagas. The Lady asked Piero Lissoni to design the new Fantini Rubinetterie headquarters: made of glass, catching the light between willows and brooms. On the edge of the park of the manor house, Lissoni then designed a small hotel that shines in the refreshing shade. In the center of Pella on the dock, Casa Fantini opened to guests last August after five hundred days of work –  dedicated to architects from all over the world who come to visit the company, to learn about the new hydraulic systems that make Fantini a specialist in design for water. Casa Fantini is a stone building set in the green of the shore, the lines are modern but kind. Those who stay there breathe its fresh air alongside the dragonflies of the Island of San Giulio – the bishop who came from Greece to establish a hundred churches.

La via del cioccolato – Chapter 1

Casa Fantini

Magnolia Grandiflora