Since 1780, Romanengo has always based its development on the valorisation of natural raw materials such as fruit, plants and flowers, through the actions of its craftsmen and its recipes: these are real common goods that we wish to continue handing down because we think that are still contemporary and that represent a valid alternative to offer to the world in which we live. We believe that this world must find a better balance, between an exacerbated production system and a production and consumption model that is more inclusive of universal values, such as handmade, short supply chains, quality and time. In fact, all Romanengo products are entirely handmade by our master craftsmen and as a production philosophy we allow ourselves to respect the long times required by some recipes that have remained unchanged over the centuries, because these enrich the flavor and quality of the product in a unique way finished.
Our craftsmen, "custodians" of this fabulous richness, hand down the beauty, the diversity, the healthy benefits of a nature today suffocated and increasingly unknown to man. We therefore wish to rehabilitate the link with nature and biodiversity in our workshops: in fact, we see our relationship with nature enhanced by the product that the hand of the craftsman creates by magnifying the quality and diversity that Mother Nature offers us.
Romanengo, however, was influenced by its geographical position and its history unfolds together with that of its city, Genoa, whose vicissitudes are dictated by its location, overlooking the sea and leaning against valleys and hills full of woods. It is on this territory that we can find the great variety of fruits, such as bitter orange or orange, flowers, such as roses and violets, together with what the merchants brought back from their long voyages, namely recipes and spices. The Genoese territory has therefore profoundly conditioned our savoir-faire and our traditions: it is a long fruitful relationship between history and geography, which must be entirely preserved.
We will therefore grow by preserving and enhancing our skills as craftsmen who base innovation on experience, and whose ultimate goal is a greater knowledge of nature and our production values. This is a great challenge of our contemporary world, this is our philosophy, this is our reason for being. Nature preserved in a gesture.
Our candy: when the raw material expresses its essence over time.
Handing down the ancient gesture capable of preserving Nature: our greatest ambition.
Peter Romanengo, 2019
CONTEMPORARY ARTISAN SINCE 1780
Pietro Romanengo was Stefano, our origins.
The ancient confectionery "Pietro Romanengo fu Stefano" was born in Genoa in 1780, when Anton Maria Romanengo went down to Genoa from his native Voltaggio, a Genoese hilly area along the road to the Po Valley. here he began his apothecary business, attracted by the flourishing commercial activity of the city, supported by its large port, a crossroads of trade with the world. It was the intuition of his sons Stefano and Francesco that added to his workshop the artisanal manufacture of the best-known products of fine Genoese confectionery, candied fruit, sugared almonds and almond paste: processes that the Genoese discovered in the East, together with sugar at the time of the first crusade. Crusaders and Genoese merchants got to know sugar in 1099 during the three-day siege of Tripoli in Syria. In the immediately following period, its knowledge spread in Genoa together with the recipes for its use. And the manufacturing began. Historically candied fruit was considered an important food for sailors, as it was believed to retain most of the nutrients for long periods of voyage.
The Historical Workshop of Soziglia at the time of Giuseppe Verdi, our loyal admirer and customer.
Our laboratory in 1780.
Romanengo survived the Napoleonic wars and the dramatic blockade of Genoa in 1800; with the Restoration, the family opened the Soziglia workshop in 1814, then renovated in 1853 following the example of the most elegant Parisian confectioneries. Paris, in fact, represented in the 1800s the reference in Europe for the art of confectionery: the frequent trips of Stefano and his son Pietro to the city enriched the shop with French novelties, from chocolate to a vast choice of confiserie de detail. The example to follow was therefore the workshop of the French confiseur-chocolatier: a precious shop with a large complete laboratory and a flourishing literature on the art of confectionery. Thus in Soziglia, as in Paris, candied fruit, chestnuts, chocolate, sugared almonds with various souls, jams, syrups and a vast repertoire of French-inspired specialties were processed.
When Pietro Romanengo fu Stefano restored the Soziglia shop in the mid-1800s, he wanted to add a brand to the company name (PR fu S) and remembering that the shop was opened in 1814 at the end of the Napoleonic wars, he chose the dove of peace because only with peace could have been prosperity for a confectionery factory and for Genoa. After the uprisings of 1848, which represented a period of strong destabilization for Romanengo as well, the peace of mind in work was obtained that the family strongly desired. And the good times came for the Duchess of Galliera who every day ordered chestnuts, fondant and candied fruit from the shop. Orders for sugary bouquets of violets and gardenias arrived from the central Duchies. The flourishing exports of candied fruit to the Americas and Northern Europe began. He frequently visited the Giuseppe Verdi workshop, who accompanied the shipment of candied fruit to his friend Count Opprandino Arrivabene with a letter now kept in the museum of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan: "[...] living among these sweets I didn't notice that Romanengo knew how to season all sorts of fruit so exquisitely [...] some people from Paris told me [...] having made this discovery, I wanted to be part of it”.
Umberto 1st of Savoy came for his marriage to Margherita, and Umberto 2nd, who loved pink liqueur cherries. Queen Elena did not fail to commission a pistachio nougat according to the Montenegrin recipe. The Duchess of Aosta arrived and, out of gratitude, allowed Romanengo to adorn his insignia with the ducal coat of arms. However, this privilege was never used by the family, who preferred to keep their dove of peace. The splendor of the 1800s continued in the 1900s with the appreciation of the bourgeoisie and of the Genoese companies which joined the customers of ancient nobility. However, Romanengo, by his conscious choice, never wanted to be an exclusive destined for the elite, but wanted to be for everyone, presiding over the market of traditional taste and high quality, rather than that of luxury.
Thus, over the years, between epidemics (the Spanish flu epidemic caused the death of Emmanuele Romanengo, an important company manager), wars of independence, wars of the Kingdom, world wars - a journalist wrote: "with the Romanengos one does not know never what wars do they talk about” - the Romanengo family, di Stefano in Pietro, thanks to the spirit of family unity and the Catholic faith, managed to keep alive the traditional recipes, the slow and natural processes, and the quality of the products. Thus the ancient shop grew, becoming a point of reference in the confectionery of great tradition, even outside of Genoa. The entrepreneur Jean-Sébastien Decaux has recently entered the company structure and management: accompanying the Romanengo family and strongly sharing the company's vocation for the craftsmanship of the production processes and excellence in the quality of the products, he has brought new evolutionary stimuli and projects of development, respecting the tradition of the ancient confectionery and its values.
Pietro Romanengo, around 1885
Genoa, our city.
Genoa, closed behind by the mountains, which it climbs over time, and extended in a narrow strip of land overlooking the water, is by nature projected to expand towards the sea which in some way is complementary to the city. In this environmental context the character of the Genoese develops, lean, sober, proud, tenacious and decidedly enterprising and inclined to commerce. The history of the city is the result of the combination of these elements that give life to particular paths that are difficult to compare to those of other territories. From the era of the Crusades in the Holy Land to that of flourishing trade throughout the Mediterranean and in the Near East, from the glories of the oligarchic Republic to the financial expansion of the city's bankers throughout Europe, the Genoese demonstrate their courage and determination by attributing an important role for their city, a natural outlet to the sea and, as such, always coveted and disputed by the great European powers over the centuries.
The limited agricultural productivity of the region makes it essential to procure everything that the territory is unable to produce. The sea is a privileged means of communication both for the daily movement of goods along the coasts and for trade in the Mediterranean and from the seventeenth century also with the new overseas territories. Around 1780, when the documented history of the Romanengo family begins, the oligarchic Republic of Genoa, born with Andrea Doria in 1528, is now at sunset and with it the traditional judiciary of the city disappears. The French revolutionary spirit spread in the city and created the premises for the birth of the short-lived Ligurian Republic, which from 1797 to 1805 allowed the city to maintain a certain autonomy, even if under the protection of France. In this period there are dramatic moments such as the terrible siege in the spring of 1800 by the Anglo-Austrians which imposes a brief occupation of Genoa by the imperial forces.
Napoleon's victory over the Austrians at Marengo (June 1800) allowed the restoration of the Republic, but the French influence was increasingly conditioning, until in 1805 when the city was incorporated into France. The nation, with a heavy tax regime and the imposition of military service, accentuates the commercial difficulties of the city, also due to the "continental blockade" imposed by Bonaparte which forbids the docking in the ports of his empire to ships from England or from its colonies. From 1815, by decision of the Congress of Vienna, Genoa and Liguria were annexed to the Piedmont of the Savoys, who, while considering the region as a natural maritime outlet for their territory, initially struggled to enhance the mercantile commitment of the city, indeed they suffocate it with tariffs and protectionism.
Starting from 1821, with the new king Carlo Felice, and even more with Carlo Alberto from 1831, the Savoyard policy towards Liguria became more attentive: improvement of road communications, legislative and administrative reforms, liberal trade policy helped the recovery of trade and favor the establishment of an oligarchy of wealth made up of merchants, shipowners, entrepreneurs and bankers.
GIUSEPPE ROMANENGO, 1968
THE CULTURE OF OUR BOTTGEHE
This is the art of the confectioner: preserving the products of nature and imitating their appearance and taste, through the skilful processing of sugar. Romanengo has maintained over time its original identity as a confectionery, in the most traditional sense: a factory where fruit, flowers, spices and aromas are processed with sugar. In fact, production is still organized according to the French and Italian 19th-century model, with the division into departments of a large laboratory: these departments, called workshops, are led by our craftsmen who faithfully follow the recipe books of both the ancient figure of the "confiseur-chocolatier ” and of the Genoese art of candying.
The fruit and flower shop
The ancient oriental wisdom discovered how to preserve fruit and flowers thanks to sugar and since the Middle Ages the cooks, convents and Genoese craftsmen, having learned this knowledge during the first crusade, were able to perfect the art of candying becoming famous in Italy and even in France. In this shop, the ancient "Fourneau", respecting the ripening seasons and the slow rhythms of the traditional recipe, we enhance the richness of the fruit and flowers with the production of iced candied fruit, meshed citrus peel, marron glacé scented with distilled orange blossom water, crystallized wild violet flowers and fruit and flower preserves. The processes make use of various equipment, such as tools for cooking fruit or heated tubs for candying, but the authentic uniqueness of these products is only possible thanks to the dexterity of the master candier and his students.
The candy shop
"La dragée est la partie la plus difficile des travaux du confiseur". Barbier Dubal, “L'art du confiseur moderne” (Paris, 1879). This is what was written when the hand-held pan, the Branlante, was used, unequaled over time for the quality of the coating. From 1840 the mechanical pan replaced it and only thanks to the gesture of our confectioner can we obtain a product of similar quality today. We produce ancient sweets that preserve, thanks to sugar, seeds and parts of plants and spices: Avola almonds, Italian pine nuts, Bronte pistachios, candied citrus peel, cinnamon bark, toasted coffee beans and fennel seeds.
This workshop was ideally born when the Frenchman La Varenne published the treatise “Le parfait confiturier” in 1667. For the first time the behavior of sugar syrup during cooking was examined and described, from boiling to the appearance of caramel and with an almost poetic language, the cooking stages were illustrated: nappé, lissé, petit perlé, petit and gros soufflé, petit and gros boulé, petit and grand cassé and caramel. In our workshop the craftsmen master the difficult technique of "polishing", capable of preserving the products in a natural way. This is how sugar is worked into various shapes and colors: in fondants, rosolio drops, fruit pastes and all the other products that become an important testimony to the encounter between artisanal savoir-faire and imagination.
The Romanengo boxes, which have become iconic. Made exclusively by hand, so that craftsmanship is expressed in every aspect of our identity.
Our product: the culture of history, origin and craftsmanship.
The chocolate shop
We give shape to our milk and dark chocolate - modeled in bars and in various creations - and we produce the type of unconcated santè of the nineteenth-century tradition, almost completely forgotten. The "chocolat de santè" was born in France to distinguish good chocolate from low quality adulterated products that were often found on the market. It is in fact a genuine chocolate composed of only cocoa and sugar in equal percentages. The ancient machines still used for the production of chocolate work respecting the times of the past: here is a "De Batiste" granite mixer from 1863, a "Carlo Montanari" steel cylinder refiner from the 1950s and a longitudinal basin of “Melzi” granite from the 1940s.
The confectioner's sweet shop
In the ancient "Four" we produce raw almond paste or fondant in various shapes and flavors, such as the typical Lenten sweets and colored Easter eggs. The "Romanengo desserts" are well-known: caramelized fruits, truffles, meringues, iced petit fours, small pastries and nougats. Standing out among these is the pistachio fondant commissioned from Romanengo by Queen Elena to commemorate the nougat of her native Montenegro. The processing is exclusively manual, with the gesture of the craftsman which gives a precise and often surprising aesthetic in the eyes of the customers. The few machines present in the shop are in fact used only for the preparation of the mixtures: a granite cylinder refiner purchased in the 1800s, a 1940s turret maker and a cream cooker.