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  • Writer's pictureStefania Gioia

VizioVirtu': Chocolate made in Venice

Updated: Feb 14, 2019

It’s a muggy morning of summer: alleys and campi are crowded with tourists, we hardly proceed in the clamour of a multitude sprawling in every direction and speaking languages from all over the world. The sun is at its highest when we reach Mariangela’s chocolate shop, and all of a sudden it’s a refreshment and a joy, pleasing both eyes and palate. Placed with grace on multiple shelves there’s a surprising variety of titbits: jars of any shapes contain pralines, dragees and jelly sweets; elegant trays serve cookies, bars, truffles and candied fruits. The window shows chocolate artworks inspired by Venetian tradition.

Mariangela greets us out of breath, as she just run an errand out of Venice. These boiling hot days it's not easy to walk under the sun through the crowded, narrow streets. She wears a linen caftan, her hair tied back in a chignon on a radiant smile. She tells us her story: how eleven years ago decided to leave the fashion world, changing her passion for chocolate in a real job. Her mother, who helped in the chocolaterie since the opening, says Mariangela used to indulge in sweets since she was really small. Then, why not giving it a try with a chocolate factory?

At the beginning Mariangela got a lot of criticisms: starting this kind of business without a family tradition and in Venice, where a chocolate shop never worked! Would that be a good idea? But she was very determined: she could count on her experience in the trading field, she had a real knack for business, very good manual skills and, above all, an instinctive ability to recognize high-quality food.

Mariangela studies, attends classes, learns the secrets of chemistry to better store food, and uses her fashion knowledge to arrange the store. In 2005 finally VizioVirtù opens its doors near San Tomà as a real chocolate boutique, not less qualified than the French ones. It’s a great success: it will take some months to get used to the new rhythm and understand how to organize time efficiently, how to handle a dream that’s become real.

Recently the factory moved to San Lio, an area between Rialto and San Marco: here you can still find a few small stores, a hairdresser, a photocopy shop, a newsstand and a couple of Venetian authentic restaurants, sign of an era that’s quickly disappearing. As of today, an entrepreneur in Venice mainly deals with tourists, pays a crazy rent and the highest amount of taxes, while assisting to the exodus of citizens, forced to leave a city that’s gradually becoming too expensive and difficult to live in.

The company uses exclusively the Grand cru chocolate, obtained from the finest cocoa seeds; it buys it from small factories that avoid children exploitation; it also offers a line of products for people affected by diabetes.

At VizioVirtù you can participate in a tastings session where you’ll learn about history of chocolate and have a sample of the exquisite production. Upon request, you can take part in a workshop, where the owner and her assistant will teach you how to cook a ganache cream, how to temper chocolate for the truffles, how to obtain the right thickness in the mousse. Many children attend the workshop: they leave with their wonderful handmade titbits and – maybe - a passion to nurture in the future, longing to become creative and courageous artisans, just as Mariangela did.

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