The Peyrano Family and Chocolate in Turin
The Pioneers of Chocolate in Turin
Chocolate made its appearance in Turin in the 17th century and was an instant success. That was when the early masters - known as Chocolatiers (some of the most famous being Giraldi and Giuliano, Andrea Barera and the Widow Giambone) - made a name for themselves, and the Savoy court also manifested its interest in the new activity, confirmed by a royal patent issued in 1678.
Peyrano, a family from Turin
The earliest records of the Peyrano family in Turin date back to the beginning of the 19th century, when they operated as professional fishermen and chartered boats for trips on the river Po.
In 1911, the Peyrano family consisted of grandfather Giacomo (owner of a landing stage), his wife Agnese Maronetto, their children Antonio, Luigi, Lucia and Giovanna with her son Giacomo, known as Giacolin.
Towards the end of the century, Antonio (born in 1880) worked as an apprentice at the company “Baratti e Milano”. In 1912, he started working for “Capobianchi” in Ancona, in the Marche region, where he was employed as a technician in the candy sector, and moved
there with his sisters Lucia and Giovanna, and his nephew, Giacomo.
His sister Lucia was also employed by the same company as the head of candy-wrapping.
Lucia returned to Turin and established a business in 1915, making and selling candies at the present Peyrano premises in Corso Moncalieri 47, but unfortunately the war forced her to suspend operations.
When the war was over, in 1919 the company called Peyrano Lucia, together with Antonio, resumed making and selling candies.
However, competition from large companies specialising in this sector and equipped with expensive machinery convinced Antonio to focus on another product: chocolate.
The Peyrano name began to be linked to chocolate in 1920, when Antonio decided to transform the small workshop in Corso Moncalieri 47 into a chocolate shop.
The whole family threw themselves into the new business venture, starting with his father Giacomo, his sisters Lucia and Giovanna, who handled the packaging and sales, and his nephew Giacolin, who began working alongside his uncle in 1922.
Things were not easy at first. The Peyranos only had a few, basic pieces of machinery to work with: a roaster, a cocoa press, a brieuse (refiner) and a mortar.
It wasn't until a few years later that the Galantini mechanical industry supplied the melangeur (mixer), which Antonio Peyrano had always refused, arguing that he didn’t yet have enough money to pay for it.
Mr Galantini's confidence and respect for Antonio Peyrano stemmed from the fact that during his time at 'Capobianchi', Peyrano chose to give a discount to the company rather than pocket the percentage of the price for a supply of machinery, as was the practice among confectionery technologists in those days.
From a memoir that Giacomo Peyrano wrote in the 1980s:
After the founder's death in 1926, his nephew Giacomo took up the reins with his mother Giovanna and wife Angiola.
In 1950 and 1953, Giacomo, with the help of his son Giuseppe, decided to introduce new varieties with different shapes and flavours to the classic chocolates.
The result was the creation of "noci" (walnuts), "nocciole" (hazelnuts), "mandorle" (almonds), "conchiglie" (shells), "cuori Romeo e Giulietta" (Romeo and Juliet hearts) and many other chocolates.
In the 1950s post-war period, Italy enjoyed a period of strong economic growth.
Peyrano seized the opportunity to reorganise and boost sales without ever failing to meet the same high-quality standards.
The Cultural Boom of the 1980s and 1990s
During the 1980s, the production facilities were again upgraded and the company focused more on communication.
A close affinity was created between haute couture and Peyrano chocolate: the iconic pralines were always on offer during the fashion shows in the ateliers of the great Italian fashion designers.
Vogue Italia itself regularly used Peyrano products to honour its top clients, just as the most luxurious hotels made it a habit to always leave a Peyrano chocolate on their guests' bedside table.
The chocolate and design combination was consolidated in the 1990s with the design of some special packaging by the creative talents of prominent designers like Ettore Sottsass, Alessandro Mendini, Riccardo Dalisi, David Palterer, Lorenzo Sabbatini and many others.
Since 2019, the business and its traditions have been overseen by Turin-based entrepreneur Alessandro Pradelli.
The philosophy is to act as a "custodian of tradition while introducing innovative elements" with respect for the artisan process.
The laboratory in Corso Moncalieri 47, which occupies an area of about 1800 square metres in the centre of Turin, was radically overhauled in 2021 and remains the company's production centre.
All Peyrano's chocolate processes start with the selection of the cocoa beans, which the Master Chocolatiers work on in the following steps: roasting, grinding and removal of the skin, mixing the different varieties of cocoa with sugar, refining, conching, coating and packaging.
Attention to detail and the artisan nature of the product are two cornerstones of the Peyrano philosophy.
The different types of packaging are prepared and wrapped by hand with meticulous precision and elegance, and at the same time the R&D team continues to study new recipes to add to the ever-present traditional ones.