Valentine's Day in Italy - My Tuscan Aria
In the 1920s, a glamorous Italian fashion designer, Luisa Spagnoli was having a secret love affair with a handsome chocolatier named Giovanni.

Their method of communication was to hide love notes to each other in wrapped pieces of chocolate.

You will see exquisite stores all over Italy with Luisa Spagnoli's name on them and the tradition of love notes in chocolate continues to this day. Perugina "Baci" (Italian for "Kisses") is made in Perugia and they have become Italy's favorite Valentine chocolate.

They are mine, too, and not just on Valentine's Day.

To enjoy a piece of Baci takes time.....unwrapping the foil is tricky because the love note is pressed on the foil on the inside, so if you rip it in your enthusiasm to get to the chocolate, you lose the message.

A whole hazelnut lives in the center and so there is a decision to make. Pop the entire thing into the mouth, or savor it by biting in to the hazelnut and letting the chocolate dissolve into that bite?

(A quickie or a longer, lingering encounter?)

But, wait! Read the love note first, which you must carefully remove. Most of the time, they are quotes I have never encountered before. And they are in four languages.

This all takes time. It should take time. One piece of Baci goes a very long way. And isn't that great?

Buon San Valentino!

Baci chocolates can be found at World Market and gourmet food stores.

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