Leone's story began in 1857, when Luigi Leone opened a confectioner's shop in Alba, Piedmont. Right at the heart of the flavours of Italy - mint, fennel and rhubarb - Leone created delicacies to be eaten at the end of a meal. Wildly successful from day one and hoping to capitalise on the chocolate revolution happening in the city, Luigi moved to Turin to set up shop just as it was becoming known as Italy's 'capital of sweetness'. Chocolate was flying off the shelves in Turin in the 19th century, alongside candied violets, almond cookies and other colourful sweets. Famous for its sweet treats since 1650, Luigi fit in perfectly by the time he arrived in Turin. Leone's popularity with royalty at the Royal House of Savoy during this era ensured the company's success, and is the reason the Savoy's ensign still decorates Leone boxes today.
The team at Leone travel far and wide to discover the best raw ingredients for their sweets. Today, they incorporate ingredients from all over the world, such as Kordofan gum from Sudan to give their jellies a unique chew, and the fragrant flavours of vanilla from Mexico. But fear not, purists, traditional flavours still make an appearance. Leone sources its peppermint from the plantations of Pancalieri just outside Turin. This municipality is renowned for its supply of medicinal herbs to the city. Unique to this region, Pancelieri's peppermint is internationally recognised as being the best in the world. Sweet, refreshing and delicate, it elevates hard candies and tablets with its aromatic essential oil. No bag of Italian sweets would be worth their, well, sweetness without the sunshine citrus flavours of southern Italy. Leone picks lemons, oranges and tangerines from Calabria for their deep aroma and intensity, giving each cubifrutti a juicy burst of real fruit.
Back in 1847, Luigi Leone made all his sweets by hand, pouring his heart and soul into each sugary bite. While modern techniques may have taken over, Leone still uses some 19th century production methods to preserve the authenticity of their sweets. Recipes have endured through the generations, along with the bronze moulds used to make candies. And real fruit will always be the secret to their plump jellies, succulent with pulp. It's this attention to detail that makes Leone sweets so moreish. Just dipping your hand into a pastel tin of sweets wrapped in colourful paper makes you feel like a child again, though the flavours you'll encounter are very grown up. Leone still present their sweets in vintage tins inspired by those of the 1880s. So even if you're treating yourself at home, it feels like you picked them off the shelf yourself from a quaint store in elegant, Alp-fringed Turin.