The legendary biscuit that was born out of a royal scandal

If you hadn’t already noticed, we’ve got a weak spot for pastry shops. Especially the small family-run ones that have been around for generations. There’s simply no better way to get a taste of local life - quite literally - than by indulging in some typical local baked goods. So, you can imagine the excitement when we discovered Pasticceria Roletti...

Located in San Giorgio Canavese, a town in the northern Italian region of Piedmont, Pasticceria Roletti has been run by the same family for over 120 years. This is not your average local bakery. No, this beautiful pastry shop has a very special history that involves a juicy royal scandal…

A very royal clientele

The story of Pasticceria Roletti begins in 1896. In January of that year Giuseppe Roletti opens the doors of his new pastry shop in San Giorgio Canavese. Roletti’s delicious pastries quickly gain a reputation and within litte time the pastry shop  develops a loyal clientele.

Princess Lydia of Arenberg                 

Among them is Princess Lydia of Arenberg, Duchess of Pistoia. As the wife of Prince Filiberto, the Brussels-born aristocrat has married into the Italian Royal Family. From the royal palaces in Turin it’s only a short trip to San Giorgio Canavese and the Princess starts to make the journey more and more frequently.

The birth of the Biscotto della Duchessa

Princess Lydia loves Roletti’s pastries so much that she makes the business an official supplier to the Duchy. In turn, Roletti names her favourite biscuit after the duchess: il Biscotto della Duchessa (‘the Duchess’ Biscuit’). Rumour has it that the duchess is using her increasingly frequent trips to the pastry shop as an excuse to visit her secret lover, who lives in San Giorgio Canavese...

Vintage biscuit box from Pasticceria Roletti

Whatever the reason for the duchess’ numerous visits to Pasticceria Roletti, her favourite biscuits earn a bit of a reputation, and not just because they're the source of juicy local gossip. People come from far and wide to try them. Turns out the duchess is not the only fan of Roletti’s handmade chocolate biscuits. 

A story still going strong

Over the years, the family perfects the recipe. In the 1930s, Giuseppe’s brother Antonio helps build an electric oven to speed up the production process so the business can keep up with growing demand.

Now run by the fourth and fifth generation of the family, Pasticceria Roletti has become the most renown pastry shop in San Giorgio Canavese. Still incorporated into its logo is the coat of arms of the Duchy of Pistoia. And, as if nothing has changed since the days of the visit of the Duchess, the Biscotti della Duchessa continue to be Roletti’s most iconic product.

Pasticceria Roletti

Images credit: Pasticceria Roletti