I’ve been in heaven, back in December.
I am not exaggerating, believe me. Last month, I have been given the chance of visiting a place where a lot of magic – and many sweets things – is made and I felt really lucky for that.
The Antica Confetteria Pietro Romanengo is one of the oldest shops in Genova: since 1780 this amazing confectionery shop – the oldest in Italy – produces sophisticated sweets, which are great in taste and look great as well. The shop and its products have been part of the life of Genovese people for decades and it’s undoubtedly a landmark of the city of Genova.
Romanengo’s shop in Via Soziglia, Genova
Every time someone comes to Genova and asks me suggestions regarding what to see and do there, I always tell him or her not to miss Romanengo because, when you enter the shop in Via Soziglia, not only you have the opportunity of tasting and buying incredible sweets but you also take a step back in time.
The Soziglia shop is a little jewel in the historical center of Genova, which has been preserved exactly as it was when it first opened its doors in 1814. There are marble counters and wooden cabinets, where all products are displayed – alongside a collection of old objects used to make packages in the past. You’ll feel as if you are inside some kind of fairy tale, I am sure.
Inside the shop
Everything that is sold in the shops in Via Soziglia and Via Roma is made in a small artisanal lab in the center of the city, whose story goes way back in time. Since the very beginning, they specialized in high-quality products and sold their products in elegant shops with perfect packaging.
They soon became very famous in Italy and abroad and got a lot of orders from very important personalities, like Giuseppe Verdi, for example, or for special events, like the wedding of Prince Umberto I with Margherita di Savoia, in 1868, or the visit of King Vittorio Emanuele II in Savona in 1857.
This shows that what makes Romanengo so special is its products. They make candied fruits, chocolates, sugared almonds, fondants, several kinds of jam and fruit syrups, together with a series of seasonal products like panettone, Easter eggs, and many others. All these products are made according to the old recipes and methods, using the best ingredients on the market.
I love their products so much that, when I saw that it was possible to visit their lab, I booked the tour right away.
We went there on a rainy December Saturday and we were greeted at the entrance with the utmost kindness. That’s the thing I loved the most of that day: the kindness of all people there and the incredible pride with which all employees showed us their work.
While seeing them work, I realized that it’s not only the recipe and the high-quality ingredients that make their products so great, it’s also the huge amount of love and professionalism employees pour into their work.
A lovely lady showed us around the laboratory and told us about the history of this special place. She told us how they keep on working as they did in the past, in a very artisanal yet professional way, giving great importance to the expertise of every single employee and preferring the quality of their products to the possible higher quantities. They even told us that they refuse big orders – if sweets cannot be done the way they have always been produced.
We were showed how chocolates are made, using just three ingredients: sugar, cocoa, and cocoa butter. The cacao paste is slowly mixed, still using the same machinery they used in the past, and then chocolates are made by hand using old molds, plates, and tools.
One of the machinery used to make chocolates
Chocolate candies placed into their plates
We then moved to the area of the lab where the fruit is candied, again all by hand, using only the fruits of the season which need to be carefully selected to give the best flavor and output.
They use exactly the same procedure they were using 200 years ago, without the aid of a machine, creating a product which is unique: almost nobody is producing it in this way as it is way too expensive and time-consuming.
the big tanks where the fruit is kept under the syrup
Sugar dripping after mandarins have been glazed (nothing is wasted: the remaining sugar is given to the bees, which – I am sure – do appreciate)
fondants being cut one by one
Basically, what we realized after visiting the laboratory, is that everything we see on the counters of Romanengo’s shops is made by someone who took time and patience – a lot of craftsmanship – to offer the best product possible.