Italian Hot Chocolate at Vizio Virtù in Venice

It took me a long time to realize that the chocolatey drink I had as a kid what wasn’t hot chocolate, but hot cocoa.  For some, hot cocoa may evoke a powdery, chalky drink that doesn’t match the sweetness of real chocolate.  Not for me.  As I wrote last year, my father was the designated hot chocolate cocoa maker in our house and managed to make a perfectly balanced cup of chocolate-y sweet goodness every time.

That didn’t mean I didn’t have a soft spot for those admittedly inferior hot chocolate packets like Swiss Miss, I just wasn’t allowed them.  When I did get them — like at friend’s houses — it was a treat to be enjoyed, all the more so if my cup came decorated with mini marshmallows.

I can’t remember the first time I tried real hot chocolate, made from melted chocolate and milk, but I’m nearly certain it was at City Bakery.  Thick, rich and tongue coating it’s a chocoholic’s dream.  While the drink is a bit heavy for regular consumption — or solo consumption — it’s the perfect indulgence for a chilly pre-Christmas day.  As I wrote on my festive bucket list, I share a small cup with someone when I go home (hi mom!).

Italy is known for their intense hot chocolate and it was a foregone conclusion that I would to have to try it some time this year.  I wasn’t sure where it was going to be, whether I’d go to a random bar in Pavia, search out a gourmet location in Milan or what not, but I knew that I was in for an unforgettable experience.  If I survived.  In Venice, I stumbled upon a gourmet chocolate shop called Vizio Virtù and decided to get my hot chocolate fix there.

On my chilly Saturday afternoon in Venice, I wandered into the shop after their lunch break to order an espresso sized cup of hot chocolate.  I don’t have any better words to describe the drink than its name; it truly tasted like a cup of hot, melted chocolate.  There wasn’t much milk, sugar or powder-y texture in there mitigating the experience of pure chocolate.

I didn’t exactly drink it so much as I spooned it out of the tiny paper cup.  It was more like chocolate fondue.  Perhaps other chocolate-lovers are fond of this Italian style of drink, but I wasn’t.  As I tried to drink my hot chocolate, I realized just how much I love hot cocoa.  I love it’s sippability, I love it’s light taste, but most of all I love how it reminds me of home and reminds me of my family.

If you’re interested in trying Italian style hot chocolate, there’s a great recipe and explanation of the decadence that awaits at Bell’alimento.  I’m sure it’s also served as a dessert at a variety of fine Italian restaurants.

Have you ever tried Italian hot chocolate?  What’s your favorite type of hot chocolate?

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