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1913, and in Milan a horse and carriage was the way to get around. In Via De Cristoforis, off Corso Como, an address which today is synonymous with fashion and trends, a young Luigi Zaini established his first “factory of chocolate, cocoa, sweets, preserves etc.”. Luigi Zaini’s dream was to be able to satisfy any wish for something sweet, in fact, the young entrepreneur maintained: “Everyone is different, so why aren’t we creating lots of different chocolates and sweets for each different person?”. In those difficult times (the First World War was on the horizon), establishing a wide range of your own products was nothing less than visionary and completely forward-thinking. The skill and enthusiasm that Zaini poured into his business made it take off immediately, so much so that in a very short space of time the factory had to move to Via Imbonati, where it still has its head office today. Luigi Zaini S.p.A. is the only confectionery factory actually located in the city of Milan, and the scent of chocolate still continues to seduce passers-by and those who live in the area. In the Via Imbonati factory and out of the many products, the idea of Emilia is born: this famous block of extra dark chocolate, also available in cocoa, drops and cream versions, was affectionately named after the family cook. Some years later, Emilia showed herself to be beyond worth when she had to support Olga, Luigi Zaini’s wife, left unexpectedly alone to deal with managing the factory and the family. It’s also at this time that the idea of the “Foto Sport” chocolates is born: these are pralines including models of the most important footballers and athletes of the day. The idea of sports figurines which could be swapped and collected immediately gathers speed. Even Leonardo Sciascia refers to them in an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport, recalling that it was because of these that he became passionate about football as a child. The “Foto Sport” chocolates enable Zaini to cross the borders of Milan and become known and respected all over Italy. The decade draws to an end with the 1929 Great Crash, but even during these years, Luigi Zaini pursues his dream, looking to the future and always reinvesting in cutting edge machinery. In 1938, Luigi Zaini dies unexpectedly, but not before having given his employees a moving moral testament and his wife, Olga, the job of carrying on his work. Olga Zaini is a young woman, extraordinarily captivating, busy bringing up two children and another two children from her husband’s previous marriage. She doesn’t seem the type to lead a business, with all its complexity and on the eve of a new war and yet, this bold and volatile woman goes on to lead the family business with a firm hand and with a great ability for vision and intuition. She became one of Italy’s first female entrepreneurs, and stood out from the crowd, particularly during the Second World War when faced with the sight of her bombed-out factory she would not give in but rebuilt it in record time and got production up and running again. In the 50s, Olga and Luigi Zaini’s two sons, Vittorio and Piero, join the company ensuring further development, both in Italy and foreign markets. A second office is added in Senago, at the entrance to Milan and a logistics platform in Pavia. These are the years when the famous “Zio Piero’s Recipes“, delicious chocolate dishes to make at home, feature on wrappers of Emilia dark chocolate.. The manufacture of sweets and chocolates “for all tastes” as the founder had said, carried on, but with new packaging and with the addition of chocolate eggs packed with surprises made by the most prestigious licensing companies as well as a special line of sweets destined for pharmaceutical business. Heading the company today are Vittorio’s children, Luigi and Antonella. With a passion and devotion as constant as ever, they protect and relaunch the family’s project with a contemporary vision, but always mindful of the quality and tradition passed down to them by their predecessors. Luigi Zaini products are today distributed, as well as through a network over all of Italy, in 50 countries…and the story continues.

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