Villajoyosa translates as ‘Joyful Town’. When there is a chocolate factory in town why wouldn’t your town be full of joy?
In Spanish this town is called Villajoyosa (pronounced bee-ya-hoy-o-sa) and in Valencian, a dialect of Catalan, it is called La Vila Joiosa. Both names are officially correct and used interchangeably. Located 20 miles (32 km) north of Alicante on the Mediterranean coast this pretty historic town has a current population of 34,000.
The beautiful blue water and gentle Mediterranean waves immediately drew us like magnets to the beach.
Hanging Houses (?)
The river Amadorio runs through the town, although when we visited the river looked more like a creek than a river. Along the river we were told not to miss the hanging houses. We found brightly painted homes precariously perched on top of the old city walls and hanging slightly out over the river.
The charming old town of Villajoyosa is very well preserved, easy to walk and brightly colored fishermen’s houses line the quays. They would have been painted in these vibrant and cheery hues so the fishermen could see them and navigate back to them from far out at sea.
Villajoyosa is called the cradle of chocolate and the 130 year old company, Chocolate Valor, is Spain’s most famous chocolate company and brand. The most popular activity when you visit this town is to take the chocolate factory tour. The tour is free, but a ticket is required and you get it onsite. When the tour is over, guess where you end up? In the lovely chocolate filled gift shop, of course, that offers plenty of samples to try, a cup of delicious hot chocolate to taste and an opportunity to pick up a variety of chocolate gifts.
Valeriano López Lloret, who started the company in 1881, in Ermita, Spain, came from a long line of chocolate makers. Back then during the hot summer months he would make deliveries at night to avoid the heat of the day and, in the winter months, deliveries were made during the day to avoid the low temperatures of the evenings. Normally orders were for a minimum of five pounds of chocolate.
By the 1930’s chocolate was no long home delivered as you could now buy your chocolate from a shop. In the mid 1960’s operations moved to Villajoyosa improving quality and allowing for more innovation. New lines were launched including their successful brand called Pure Chocolate where vegetable fats are not used as a substitute for cocoa butter. In the early 1990’s Valor began exporting to Argentina, Venezuela and Japan. In 1995, with a new extension to the factory, the company started to buy raw cocoa beans and process them in house allowing for more consistency. They also created a commercial subsidiary called Valor USA Inc. In 2006 the small chocolate art gallery was created. A 4th generation family member manages the company today and Chocolates Valor are distributed to more than 45 countries around the world.
With a corporate slogan like this: “More than a century dedicated to the pleasure of working for pleasure” this company sounds like a pleasurable place to work.
Salud from these roamers,
Ted & Julia