Gianduja

 

Gianduja, whose name is a contraction of ‘Gioanin dla doja’ (‘John of the stein’, in Piedmontan dialect), is the classical Commedia dell’Arte character who embodies the city of Torino and its people. Beside a penchant for wine, he is one of the few characters to be entirely positive, without any malicious nor demeaning side.

Gianduja had a surprisingly important role in the unification of Italy in the early nineteenth century, as it was often portrayed on stage as a hardworking, no-nonsense patriot who even wore a three-colored cockade symbolizing the progressive forces within the country. The character, both in live plays and in hand puppets shows, frequently took a critical stance against powerful politicians, satirizing their speeches. Today this satirical role is almost completely forgotten, but the legacy of the character lives on somehow in a strange way. ‘Gianduja’ is in fact the name of a particular hazelnut chocolate typical of Torino, and ‘giandujotti’ are the characteristically triangle-shaped chocolates that every Italian still associates with the northern city.