About Me

Nov 24, 2013

Trappist: the historical Roman chocolate.


In Sicily it's Modica, in Tuscany Stainer, in Turin Peyrano or Caffarel, among others. 
In Rome the synonym for chocolate is Trappist, produced from 1880 by monks! 
Dark, with milk or hazelnuts, gianduia and for Christmas 'torrone' (nougat) of course.
Their recipes are ancient and strictly top secret, their logo:  the Colosseum with a cross!
Trappists are named after La Trappe Abbey in Normandy (France).  They are a reformed wing of Cistercian monks who were also originally from France (Citeaux) where the order was founded in 1098.  Trappists follow St. Benedict' s rule.
They used to speak only when necessary:  they actually have a sign language!  Even if they were actually much more rigorous until the Second Vatican Council in 1960s.
They still live by the work of their hands, not neglecting study and writing.  Monasteries are generally located in rural areas and produce cheese, bread, chocolate, beer, jams, liqueurs and also cosmetics!
Their beers contain residual sugars plus yeast so, unlike common beer, will improve with age.

Three Fountains Abbey, 1874.

The Trappist Abbey in Rome is located at the Tre Fontane (Three Fountains) on the Via Laurentina where they have three separate churches (one to St. Paul, one to the Blessed Mary and the third dedicated to the Saints Vincent and Anastasius).  The Church of St. Paul was raised on the spot where the saint was beheaded by order of Emperor Nero. Legend accounts for the three springs (fontane) asserting that, when severed from Paul's body, his head bounced and struck the earth in three different places, from which fountains sprang up. The church also holds the pillar to which St. Paul was tied according to tradition and some mosaics from Ostia Antica.

More on the Abbey:
http://www.abbaziatrefontane.it/index.php (only in Italian).

Once the area was swampy and malarial:  that's why eucalyptus trees were planted:  their liqueur distilled from the leaves is very popular.   Their specialties are sold in the little shop by the entrance.  The monks also sell an aromatic vinegar which is said to cure headaches and rheumatism and the best chocolate you can find in Rome. 
Actually till 1970 all those goods were produced by the monks, now a factory in Frattocchie supplies the shop of the Tre Fontane.

Their specialties are also online:

A brief video on the factory (better without audio):