Inside Italy’s Oldest Confectionary Shop
Enter the sweet and sugary world of Romanengo 1780
We might be biassed, but when it comes to pastries and confectionery, we think Italy is pretty hard to beat. From cornetti to cassate, struffoli to cannoli, the Bel Paese knows how to satisfy even the sweeter of tooth, doling out sugar in the most perfect, most exquisite way.
While there are plenty of excellent bakeries and pasticcerie to get your fix from – and everyone will have a personal favourite – some are definitely more iconic than others.
Enter Romanengo 1870, Italy’s oldest confectionary shop.
Located in the heart of Genoa, this old-fashioned, Willy Wonka-esque emporium of all-things sweet is the stuff of legends – and a must visit next time you’re in the boot-shaped country. And not just in Liguria: as of early 2023, the shop has in fact also opened its doors in Milan.
Curious to know more about this mythical space? Read on.
Italy’s oldest pasticceria
Founded by the Romanengos, you guessed it, 1780, Romanengo has been in the same family for generations (think of them as the candy equivalent of the Medici family) and become a veritable institution within Genoa’s storied culinary tradition.
The shop quickly established itself as a pioneer in the production of the finest confectionary creations in Genoa, with a focus on crafting exquisite sweets, candies, and chocolates that captured the essence of Italian gastronomy.
Over the years, Romanengo’s reputation for excellence only grew, attracting a loyal customer base that included royalty, politicians, and celebrities from around the world. Throughout the 20th century, the shop underwent a series of expansions and renovations, allowing it to keep up with changing tastes and trends in confectionery production – though without ever compromising its original ethos.
Until today, the company continues to produce its sweets using production methods like those of the 18th century, with many of the processes still done by hand from start to finish. The ingredients, too, are only the best and most premium, with most originating from raw natural sources such as fruit, flowers, cocoa, sugar and even spices.
A jewel box for sweets
From the moment you walk into Romanengo 1780, the irresistible aroma of handmade sweets hits you like a sugar rush.
The place itself has remained almost unchanged since its beginnings, with a delightfully old-fashioned decor that spans glass chandeliers hanging from frescoed ceilings, wooden cabinets and marble countertops displaying elegant glass jars filled with colourful pastel candies; as well as beautifully antique mirrors that almost amplify the magical sweet world all around.
But besides the interiors, it’s the candies that’ll command your full attention.
We’re not talking about artificially flavoured lollipops or squidgy gummy bears here, mind.
Romanengo 1870 is home to an altogether purer, more sophisticated kind of sweets: Candied fruit, velvety liqueur-filled chocolate, jams and glistening sugar drops, so joyful and tantalising you might end up staring at them for a while before placing your order.
Each piece of candy is a work of art, lovingly crafted by skilled artisans and bearing the elegant blue ribbon that’s the symbol of the store.
Can’t choose which one to have? Their boxes, featuring some of their most beloved items like their signature “Drops of Roses” candies, which have nothing but sugar and natural rose flavour, are the best way to get to try a bit of everything.
Luckily for you, we have them on ISSIMO, too – just in time to celebrate Mother’s Day.
If you ask us, it’s the perfect gift: In a world that’s constantly changing and evolving, there’s something comforting about eating candy that’s been made the same way for over 150 years. It’s like tasting a little piece of history.