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Sugar High

Author Stephan Talty Illustration Graham Roumieu

AURONZO DI CADORE, ITALY

If there is a mecca for extreme chocolate, on this serene day in March it’s the tiny Italian town of Auronzo di Cadore. That’s because practically overnight, a 26-foot tower made entirely of chocolate has appeared near the town ice rink, as if the Oompa Loompas had staged an invasion.

Ice skaters gaze at it as they arrive for their morning spin in the cold mountain air. Tourists gawk and snap pictures of the tower’s intricately carved exterior. The representative of the Guinness Book of World Records has come and gone, leaving a certificate confirming this is officially the highest freestanding structure made entirely of chocolate. Ever.

The sugar castle was built by Mirco Della Vecchia, a master chocolatier famous for his world records in cacao. “I started working as a confectioner at thirteen,” says the mustachioed chocolate mastermind. “I knew immediately this would be my future.”

For this effort, Della Vecchia took as his inspiration the famous St. Mark’s Campanile in Venice, which he wanted to duplicate in miniature. He then transported 10 tons of pure white chocolate all the way from Ecuador. The liquid was poured into a specially built mold 26 feet high and allowed to chill until it was solid. Then Della Vecchia and his team went to work, carving struts and windows to match the original, as shavings drifted to the ground. (Sadly for some, after the exposition, and lengthy exposure to the elements, it won’t be very appetizing.)

Della Vecchia has struck here before. If you stroll over to city hall, you’ll find his replica of the famous “Three Peaks” of the local Dolomite Mountains, the tops dusted with what appears to be sugar.

It’s officially the heaviest cocoa-based sculpture ever created. And it’s kept locked behind thick glass.

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