The Bonajuto Family

Six generations of artisan confectioners

1750/ The Bonajuto’s in Modica

With more than 150 years of activity, the Dolceria Bonajuto is the oldest chocolate factory in Sicily that is still in production phase, and one of the oldest in Italy. The roots of the Bonajuto family go deep down into the social and cultural fabric of a centre, “small capital” and vital core of a county seen as one of the most important of the Reign of Sicily: Modica, the town notary Vincenzo Bonajuto settles down after his marriage with a young local woman. Son of architect Natale Bonajuto, Vincenzo holds different administrative jobs, until he becomes public prosecutor of the County at the court of Palermo.

Postcard of Modica in the second half of the 19th century

1820/ Lords of Snow

Vincenzo dies in Palermo, leaving ten children behind.

The father’s premature demise will lead his son Francesco Ignazio to invest the capitals of the paternal profession in a series of business activities. Being a skilful businessperson, Francesco Ignazio will add other and safer earning sources to the profitable, but risky business of snow, such as the opening of a scent shop, a sewing shop and a sorbet and ice cream parlour. Besides selling spices of all kinds, cocoa, pickled citrus fruits, “colonial imports” and confectionery, he also owns a “fattojo del ciccolatte”, a place used to produce chocolate, which allows him to control the whole production chain: from cocoa beans to raw paste, up to the finished product.

Detail of the will

1854 / The fattojo del ciccolatte

When Francesco passes away, his son Federico inherits the “chocolate factory including all pertaining orders”. Federico decides to abandon the most unsafe investments progressively and to rather focus on the activities of chocolatier and ice cream maker: commerce thrives again and Federico can leave a lively and dynamic business in Francesco’s hands, his son.