Vizio Virtù – the finest chocolatier in Venice

As you push the old, glazed door open the rich, sweet scent of chocolate envelops you, enticing you in, making your mouth water and your taste buds tingle. And as you anticipate the first bite, your mind is working overtime trying to work out which of the wonderful chocolates to try (and just how much of this fine decadence will fit into your hand luggage?!) If you have a sweet tooth this is your version of chocolate bliss, sweet nirvana, pure heaven on earth. This is Vizio Virtù, the finest chocolatier in Venice.

Chocolate heaven - Vizio Virtù fine chocolates in Venice

Chocolate heaven – Vizio Virtù fine chocolates in Venice. Photo credit : Vizio Virtù

Mariangela Penzo founded Vizio Virtù 10 years ago to pursue her personal passion for chocolate. Everyone warned against it saying she was mad as she wasn’t a trained chocolatier.

But Mariangela studied hard and taught herself, drawing on Venice’s long history of spice, sugar and cocoa trade and her favourite film, Chocolat, to develop her delicious handmade delicacies.

Hollywood actress and star of Chocolat Juliette Binoche at the opening of cioccolateria Vizio Virtù in Venice

Hollywood actress and star of Chocolat Juliette Binoche at the opening of Vizio Virtù in Venice

Italy’s links with chocolate actually go back centuries. Italian explorer Cristoforo Columbo, also known as Columbus, first came across the cacao bean in South America in 1502, thinking it was a type of almond. His son Ferdinand noticed that the Aztecs placed great value on the beans using them as money but when explorers presented them to the Spanish court the reaction was less enthusiastic. Gradually, however, popularity of the Aztec drink cacaua atl, meaning drink of cacao, believed to be an energy-giving elixir and health tonic, began to spread. First in Spain and then throughout the cultured courts of Rome, Turin and Venice.

Caffe Florian, Venice's oldest coffee shop, has served hot chocolate for over 250 years

Caffe Florian, Venice’s oldest coffee shop, has served hot chocolate for over 250 years

By the 18th century Venice’s famous Caffe Florian in St Mark’s Square was serving a thick, dark, hot chocolate drink to its illustrious clients who included womanizer Giacomo Casanova, Lord Byron and later Charles Dickens. Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni was so enchanted that he frequently included the spicy hot chocolate in his plays as a breakfast drink or tonic believing, like Casanova, it to be an aphrodisiac.

Other famous lovers of chocolate down the centuries included Marie Antoinette who travelled with her own personal chocolatier (clearly the only way to travel!!), Napoleon Bonaparte who liked hot chocolate before bed and Mozart who extolled its powers in his opera Così Fan Tutte.

But I digress! Back to Vizio Virtù!

Mariangela Penzo, founder of Vizio Virtù, explains that there are three different species of cacao plant

Mariangela Penzo, founder of Vizio Virtù, explains that there are three different species of cacao plant

Mariangela’s passion for chocolate is clear as she explains the different types of cacao grown around the world and the various ways that cocoa can be used – either as a butter, powder, granules or as whole beans – to give a different blend, texture or flavour. And once you taste her creations you understand just how skilled this chocolate magician is!

Cocoa comes in a variety of forms including granules, beans and butter

Cocoa comes in a variety of forms including granules, beans and butter

Start with an aceto-balsamic dark chocolate ganache that melts in the mouth producing a deep, rich, grape flavour. Or why not a stripy violet truffle packed with a fruity berry punch. The 66% Caribbean and 80% Peruvian Gran Cru pralines offer deliciously intense hits of dark chocolate. Or you can even do a bit of time-travelling, tasting Vizio Virtù’s Goldoni hot chocolate that uses water instead of milk as per the playwright’s original recipe from the 1750s. Mmmmmmm, it truly is the nectar of the gods!

Vizio Virtù’s luxurious velvet-smooth chocolates leave your taste buds singing and soul souring! And, although chocolate is no longer thought to be a cure for all sorts of ailments from infertility to a weak stomach or even tuberculosis, I (and probably Mariangela) would argue that it definitely holds restorative properties to stimulate the mind and sooth a broken heart!

So next time you’re in Venice, make sure you take a trip to Vizio Virtù. You too can have the divine dark gold delights once reserved for Aztec royalty King Montezuma. You too can taste the hot chocolate drunk by the European elite. And Vizio Virtù is not only there for all your celebrations but also for your daily treats too. Mariangela and her team of chocolate alchemists are waiting just round the corner from the Rialto Bridge to help you pick out your favourites. Buon appetito!!

Useful information

For more information check out the official Vizio Virtù website here

Opening hours Vizio Virtù is open from 10:00 to 19:30, Tuesday to Sunday. The shop is closed on Monday.

Address The shop is on the corner of Calle Fava & Calle Forneri, in the Castello district (house number 5988), 30122, Venice, Italy

Guided tastings

Every day from 10 am to 7.30 pm you can taste delicacies made in store and travel through the history of chocolate. If you can’t say no to all this sweetness, write to info@viziovirtu.com to book a tasting.

Chocolate workshop
If you also want a hands-on experience Vizio Virtù offer workshops in their kitchen. Find out how to temper chocolate, make truffles and, of course, how to make the best loved winter drink – hot chocolate. Has your mouth started watering? To book your lesson, and ask for information, write to info@viziovirtu.com. Lessons are held every day from 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm by reservation only.

Good news! Vizio Virtù also has an online shop so you can satisfy those cravings without leaving home here

Note : My visit to Vizio Virtù was hosted by A Taste of Venice and Vivo Venetia a sustainable tourism organisation promoting the real Venice and offering an easy way to book interesting tours of the city’s hidden gems. All opinions are my own.

A Hole In My Shoe

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44 Responses to Vizio Virtù – the finest chocolatier in Venice

  1. Debra Kolkka says:

    I will look for the shop when I am next in Venice.

  2. joanfrankham says:

    Goodness I couldn’t resist any of these. Your photos make my mouth water

  3. Yvonne says:

    This was such a loving, heartfelt report. Maybe I’d better go and try a hot chocolate before I leave Venice.

  4. Andre Barbe says:

    Your post is soooo mouthwatering ! Grest ti know they are near our apartment !
    Thanks Liz another great entry ! ????

  5. Oh my, I’m drooling over the photos of chocolate! If I get back to Venice (which I would love to!), I will definitely be finding this shop and buy way too many treats! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Thank you Kaylene although as you’ll discover the photos don’t do the chocolates justice!! BTW if you can’t get back to Venice soon enough they do have an online shop for some tasters…….just a thought!!! Thanks for popping by – happy travels!!

  6. To die and going to Heaven every time you walk in there!

  7. Amie C. says:

    You had me at chocolate. Even though I eat chocolates from Italy I never really considered it a place for high-quality chocolates. Thanks for making me re-evaluate my terribly wrong views. When I visit Italy I will definitely visit. I also love your blog. How would you feel if I reposted this? I just couldn’t do this type of post as well as you.

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment Amie and of course you can re-post!! Italy has a long history with chocolate and I’ve found a few chocolatiers here but none as friendly, welcoming and talented as Vizio Virtu!! I hope you love their creations when you visit!! Happy travels and thanks for popping by!! :o)

  8. Man, I wish I travelled with my own chocolatier! THAT’S the dream. Everything there looks so delicious, I think I gained ten pounds just reading this post! Paradise in a shop!

    • I agree!! When I win the lottery the first appointment will be a chocolatier Nikita – its the only way to go!!! And I wish this post could be scratch and sniff (or even lick!!) so you could get the real joy of these chocolates!!!! One day eh….?! Thanks for commenting!!

  9. Yvonne says:

    Well, I did go and sample that wicked hot chocolate. I gave them the link to this post, they were very happy!

  10. Cecelia Pierotti says:

    As always you leave us with not only tasty tidbits, but interesting ones too!!! I felt like I was able to walk through their doors and actually smell their offerings ….I’m left drooling before I even get out of bed….nicely done yet again!!!!

    • Thank you for your lovely kind words as always Cecelia!! Mariangela and her team are chocolate conjurers as you know and leave us all drooling with their chocolate creations!! The only problem is having to choose…..!!

  11. Hazel Rayson says:

    Love the imagery in this post! Simply beautiful 🙂

  12. Dunja says:

    This looks heavenly! Next time i go to Venice i’ll definitely visit!

  13. Sabine says:

    Very interesting post, I love all the explanation about the chocolate in history 🙂 Actually, while I was reading this article I just had to grab and eat a piece of chocolate before I continued reading through the article :D. Being from Belgium I really appreciate good chocolate. So next time I’m in Venice I know where I will be going!!

    • I had to do the same thing when I was putting this post together Sabine so I completely understand!!! :o) I like Belgian chocolate too but I have to say this is my favourite, sorry!! Hope you like it when you try it on your next visit! Thanks for popping by!

  14. Thanks for the insight, Liz.

  15. Joe says:

    I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t realise Italy was renowned for chocolate (I spent too much time seeking out pizza when I was there!). I can now see how sorely mistaken I was. These pictures have definitely made my mouth water. Great stuff! 🙂

    • Thanks Joe and yes, there is much more to Italy than pizza although I have to say I’m a big pizza fan too!! Hope you have the chance to check out Italian chocolate from Vizio Virtu sometime & in the meantime thank you for your lovely comments!

  16. What a disappointment; we’ve been to Venice twice and both times missed this place. We’ve considered returning to explore Venice’s lesser-known islands and this makes an additional incentive to actually do that. We adore fine chocolates.

    • Third time lucky eh Linda! I’m glad it might just help tip the balance for your return trip – its definitely worth finding!! And I hope you enjoy exploring the islands too. Burano is beautiful, Torcello is interesting and Chioggia is a nice day out, especially for the fish market and tasty local seafood restaurants. There’s also San Lazzaro which is home to an Armenian monastery & was involved in early printing in Venice – I’ve been told its very interesting. Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful trip and thanks for your comments!

  17. Cristina says:

    I don’t have a sweet tooth but you’ve just made my mouth water ?.

  18. I’m melting looking at those photos. I hope that you’ve tried gianduja in Turin!

    • Thanks for your comments Karen and yes I have tried gianduja! Yum!! If you like chocolate, you also need to add Perugia’s week long chocolate fair to your wish list although for me Vizio Virtu still comes top of all 3!!

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