Amaro Obsession


The history of  Caffè and Pastry Balzola  has its origins in a small village drowned in the hills of Monferrato, Villamiroglio. From there Pasquale Balzola, founder of the family, started. He took over a tavern with stabling in Alassio, in the historical Piazza del Commercio. Thus he made his first appearance in 1902, a sign bearing the name Balzola. In a short time the place created new habits and new rituals. In those years the “Aperitivo di Alassio” and the “Amaro dei Saraceni” were born, exclusive creations of Balzola, which soon became an essential appointment for the first patrons.

Pasquale’s son, Rinaldo, specialized in the refined school of Gustavo Pfatich, one of the most famous pastry chefs of all time and, in 1919, he graduated in the sophisticated confectionery art by creating and patenting the famous “Baci di Alassio”. For the company and for the family it was a real leap in quality that soon turned into a real take-off to unexpected peaks when, in 1929, the emerging talent of Rinaldo Balzola was understood by the Royal House of Savoy which wanted it at court as chief pastry chef.

In fact the Balzola as in Paris, was among the first venues in Italy, and the first ever in Liguria, to open up to the fashion of concert coffees. At his tables, customers could taste the delicacies of the pastry shop and, at the same time, listen to the performances of the best Italian orchestras. It was in full Belle Epoque and Alassio became, in the wake of the Balzola, a coveted showcase for the most famous characters of the time. Among the most talked about visits was that of Gabriele D’Annunzio who made his scenographic appearance accompanied by Eleonora Duse in the room and escorted by two magnificent greyhounds and which left the entire town with an open mouth. The presence of Maksim Gorky, on the other hand, was much less striking, as he usually met with eminent thinkers and intellectuals of the time.

The years passed and the artists who also performed, new stars of the EIAR (ex RAI) of the caliber of Beniamino Gigli and Tito Schipa entertained names of level as characters of the families Agnelli, Pirelli, Lancia, Marzotto, Motta and Alemagna, which they seemed to particularly appreciate the Balzola creations and frequented coffee when they were in Alassio.

Today, after more than 110 years of activity, the fourth generation Balzola leads the business. Sign of the continuity of an art and style rightly rewarded with the attribution of the qualification of “historic Italian place”.

A tangible proof of how the company is still animated by the same spirit with which Pasquale Balzola, over a hundred years ago, began his great adventure! But let’s go back to our Amaro, invented by the founder Pasquale Balzola, liquorist at Martini & Rossi in Pessione, who after an experience in the Americas returned to Italy because of American prohibition and used the aromatic herbs of the coast to create his liquor. From 2018 the Amaro dei Saraceni became a Municipal Denomination of Origin (DE.CO.), this not only enhanced it but also made it a liqueur excellence of the city of Alassio. Curious to know that the denomination “Dei Saraceni” takes its cue from the historicity of the presence of the Ottoman corsairs in Liguria. The Balzola company has its own cold liquor processing factory. The working procedure is classic and consists in creating an infusion with a mixture of herbs that for at least 40 days, then the alcoholic grading is created, inserting alcohol and sugars. After this process the product is bottled in the historic bottle. The bitterness of the Saracens has an important alcoholic note of 34 °. Among the herbs that compose it there are: lemon balm, mint, sage, yarrow, thyme, lavender, chamomile flowers and gentianella. This bitter as well as the classic bottle shape from Amaretto, which has always remained the same since the 1940s to present itself to the clientele in the most appealing way for the time, also affects the marvelous and historic label where a Saracen corsair is depicted, with in the background the Torrione di Alassio, which tastes the bitterness signed Balzola. Tasting Review Color: Amber, slightly viscous. Smell: Floral, the notes of lavender take over Taste: balanced between floral and herbaceous nuances, persistent on the palate Aftertaste: Amaricante Findings: Corsair