It was one of those typical “last day of my holiday” situations: your day is too long to sit around waiting for your flight home, but too short to really do something ambitious. And you do not want to end up arriving at the airport hot and bothered and with nothing left of your intention to have a relaxing breakaway weekend.
So in our recent short visit to Rome, we were considering to go to a park further out from the city centre in the few hours before our flight. It was a great few days, with perhaps too many tours, too many historical sites, too much Italian cuisine – the idea was to chill before venturing home. But the weather was suddenly not so promising and besides I had not yet used the opportunity to do some “research”:
Being active in the chocolate industry, I am naturally curious of what other chocolatiers are up to and usually make an effort everywhere I go to see a chocolate shop. First I thought we had run out of time to fit that in, and that it simply did not make sense to Google “chocolate shops in Rome open on a Sunday”, but that was exactly what I did! (It is small wonder that my long suffering husband and business partner often say to me in exasperation, “my wife, you are insane”! ) But he was quite calm and supportive this time around, when I announced what I had done and that I really wanted to visit this chocolate spot somewhere remote from where we were in Rome. So we called an Uber taxi and off we went.
As we came closer, we had our doubts: there was more than the usual amountof graffiti around and the street looked decidedly unfriendly, especially on a Sunday. But we could see the chocolate venue named SAID, tucked away in a small dead-end and as we approached this place, we begin to think that we just might be in for a surprise!
Well, we were! When we pushed open the door, we were greeted by what can only be described as a “heaven” by chocolate lovers like us! The building was a converted industrial site, which turned out to be an original chocolate factory, established in 1923. The atmosphere was clearly not your normal chocolate boutique which you so often find in big cities in Europe. With those, you often feel as if you, firstly, don’t deserve to be there and then, when you have scraped together the courage to enter, you sometimes feel as if you do not look the part of the serious shopper. So you want to buy quickly and leave without drawing a fresh breath!
But not this place; this one invites you to sit down, relax and linger…
Old chocolate machinery, moulds and other equipment from the past were made part of the decor in a clever way to remain casual yet focusing the mind on the good stuff that was available all around you. There was the chocolate, cake and coffee section, a restaurant and the factory itself, where they still make all their own chocolate today (unfortunately the factory was closed on the Sunday).
So we decided to stay for lunch in the restaurant: seasonal Rome artichokes as a starter, fried sardines for the main course. After which we retired to the chocolate section for a rich and dark chocolate torte and some samples (the research part of the visit!). And we ended off our visit with the most amazing velvety dark hot chocolate.
We felt inspired but, surprisingly, also very relaxed as we enjoyed these treats in their comfy sofas, overlooking a small indoor garden. A place where we could make the most amazing chocolate memories, without ever feeling as if we were overstaying our welcome – and we were there no less than three to four hours!