2011 International Furniture Fair glass and chocolate

At this year's edition of the Milan Furniture Fair, apart from keeping us very busy with all the new products we launched...

At this year's edition of the Milan Furniture Fair, apart from keeping us very busy with all the new products we launched, it gave us the chance to get to know another company, distant from the Veneto region and from the world of glass. A company, part of the excellence of Italian crafting and handmade products in the world, "L'Antica Dolceria Bonajuta" of Modica, Sicily.

This is the oldest Sicilian chocolate producer founded back in 1880 by Francesco Bonjuta and acknowledged for the superior quality chocolate produced. Repositories, in Europe, of a know-how which arrives from distant countries and cultures and for some bizarre event in history have become and now hold, here, a heritage to be jealousy kept alive.

One of the products that arrived in Europe from the Americas was chocolate. For the Aztecs chocolate was a ritual beverage and only for the upper-castes. "Xocoàlt" was made using ground cocoa beans and enhanced with spices.

This was the first type of chocolate that arrived in Europe though Spain and Sicily which at that time was part of the Spanish empire. The only difference to the original Aztec recipe was that the Europeans added cane sugar. The chocolate was prepared "cold" so as to keep the cocoa and sugar separated. The spices used in general were vanilla and cinnamon In Modica this method has remained more or less the same and has not been contaminated in any way by industrial processes. This Modica handmade process ensures all the ingredients maintain their natural characteristics making this chocolate truly unique. The romantic figure of the "cicculattaru" who, up until the end of the 50's with his "metate" (mealing stone), sold his precious chocolate door to door throughout the town and its quarters, maybe deserves a monument which the town of Modica should dedicate to all those who, with their work, have kept an art alive which risked of dieing out.

The idea of creating a Murano chandelier in some way linked to Modica came to me when I was invited by Salvatore Tringali to visit the castle of Modica which was undergoing restoration work. A chandelier for one of the rooms in the castle. This how Muricanu Chocolate was first created, a tribute from Murano to a town and its chocolate.

For the 2011 International Furniture Fair we contacted "L'Antica Dolceria Bonajuta", run and managed by Franco Ruta and his son Pierpaolo who have promoted Modica chocolate worldwide, which can be seen not only as a business venture but a cultural commitment to ensure a unique heritage is not lost in time. Franco Ruta and Pierpaolo offered us their handmade chocolate free so we could offer it to visitors to our stand when launching our chandelier – Muricanu Chocolate.

For the occasion the chocolate was packed in a personalised and limited edition packaging with the two company logos, a detail of the chandelier and the wording Muricanu Chocolate. I believe this was an interesting way to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy, two companies, one from the north and one from the south that converge and combine two important Italian handcrafting traditions.

It was 30th April 1861 when Francesco Bonajuta was born and for a unique coincidence that same year Italy was unified. He continued un his father's footsteps and established "Dolceria Bonjuta" in 1880. Ad Maiora!

Arch. Roberto Assenza