Umbria is Tuscany’s less famous sister, but it offers just has many fascinating faces, Named Italy’s “green heart” and the “land of saints”, it deserves to be celebrated just as its chic neighbor, generous as it is of gorgeous views in a mystical and serene setting, undulating landscapes, and a constellation of more intimate (compared to Siena or Florence), but equally beautiful hill-towns: Perugia, Assisi, Orvieto, Gubbio, Todi, Spoleto and Norcia, all emerging among the sea of olive groves and typical Mediterranean woods, all a few milles away from each other.
But Umbria is also a region where the food, wine, art and culture intersect and meet to create, just like in any other part of Italy, major cultural happenings. Norcia, with its truffles, hams and cheeses, for example, is a phenomenal gastronomic center; Spoleto’s summer festival is one of Europe’s most prominent cultural and musical events; the annual EuroChocolate festival in Perugia (already known for its century-old chocolate factory) is one of the modern food festivals, and without a doubt the most important event dedicated to the Italian and international chocolate’s tradition in its every possible form, color, size and shape. The event intend to also draw the attention towards the opportunities, problems and prospects of development in the countries producing cocoa, while promoting the excellence of their local productions and thus helping local development projects.
Every year, during the third week in October, food stands set up by chocolate factories and showcases will animate the streets and squares of the historic city center of Umbria’s Capital.
It’s quite a delightful event, worth a visit from everybody, choco-lovers and not, because what you’ll see is quite unique.
Be part of the some 300,000 visitors who, in the space of 9 days, will indulge in the numberless chocolate tastings in cafes and historical theaters, and be the audience of theme shows, workshops and lectures, featuring nutritionists enlisting the virtues of this food of the gods, making us feel a little less guilty about the sweetest addiction. Stroll along Corso Vanucci, and watch artists sculpting 500 pounds-blocks of chocolate into true works of art and put on display for the duration of the event, while thousands of sweet chips fly around and are gathered on clean sheets of canvas for you to pick up and taste for free.
During the two weekends of the festival, a trolley, known as – how else – the Chocotram, will connect the two main piazzas of the city, so that you can park your vehicle nearby and hop on it. On board, the sweet entertainment begins as chocolates bars and other candy are handed out. Also, the town will open the door of its Perugia Chocolate Museum where entrance is free during the week of festivities.
In the past, the event offered unexpected shows, such as in 1999, with the knocking over of a 6 foot-high, 55 foot-long chocolate block wall as a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, or a giant hot-air balloon made out of Lindt chocolate that could be sampled.
The creative spirits of this festival know no boundaries, who knows what they’ll come up with this time around. Another reason, if you were looking to find one, to go visit Umbria and EuroChocolate and find out yourself.
Nicoletta Lucia Paganucci