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Renowned Italian chocolate maker Perugina was founded in Perugia in 1907. Eric Bryan charts the company’s history from its origins as a small Umbrian producer to its recognition today as a major international brand supplying the world with chocolate, nougat, sweets, biscotti and all manner of seasonal treats…

Perugina’s Art of Taste

Perugina now has outlets all around the world
less otherwise stated, images are courtesy of via Creative Commons: are available to use under a Creative Commons licence

Perugina’s story started on 30 November, 1907, when Francesco Buitoni, Leone Ascoli, Francesco Andreani, and Annibale and Luisa Spagnoli established a confection laboratory in Perugia. (The Buitoni family owned Giovanni e Fratelli Buitoni, a pasta manufacturing company based in Sansepolcro, Arezzo, with a factory in Città di Castello, Perugia.) The confectionary was called Società perugina per la fabbricazione dei confetti. The success of the business enabled the company to move to Fontivegge in the suburbs in 1915, to a production facility that had a cocoa powder production line and hydraulic presses for cocoa butter extraction. These capabilities led to the development of Cacao Perugina in 1917, a product that became a standard for quality cocoa in Italy.

Luisa Spagnoli looked after the needs of her employees by establishing a nursery school at the Fontivegge plant in 1915, and creating on-site shops so workers could do their shopping conveniently after their shifts. The nursery enabled mothers to bring their babies and small children to work so that they could remain employed while their husbands were serving in the war. She also had terraced housing and a swimming pool built near the factory for her employees. Other benefits developed for Perugina workers included the distribution of free reading books, and a cash desk to assist those in the most need. Employees registered at the cash desk could receive a daily allowance and free medical coverage.

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About Italia!

This month’s Italian journey begins in the crystal blue waters of the Maddalena Archipelago, just off the northeastern tip of Sardinia. Check out the quieter coves of the Costa Smeralda (no bling required) and travel inland to explore an ancient landscape, with copious helpings of delicious Sardinian food to sustain you along the way. Beth, our newest writer, revisits her beloved Rome, this time with a baby and grandparents in tow. Perugina, the producers of theiconic Baci, are under the spotlight as we trace the history of this venerable chocolate company, and we meet up with Giorgio Locatelli in our exclusive interview.