Indulge yourself at Perugia’s famous Eurochocolate festival
Perugia’s Eurochocolate Festival, an annual event that is famous throughout the world, is the most popular chocolate festival in Europe. Chocolate is big business in Umbria and Italy, with annual sales of 350 million euros. Consumption has doubled over the past 10 years, rising from two to four kilos per year, per person – and is still growing!
Each year a new theme is developed, and commercial, educational and cultural activities are planned around the theme. For nine delightful days, Perugia in Umbria is transformed into a chocolate lovers dream – a fantastic occasion to discover and enjoy the highly celebrated Umbrian hospitality.
More than a million chocoholics visit this beautiful city each year, to sample chocolate delights from all over Europe. You can scramble with the locals for free trimmings as chocolate artists carve huge sculptures out of the massive metre-high blocks of dark chocolate placed around Piazza IV Novembre. Join special guided tours of the city, peruse the many exhibitions and live demonstrations, and enjoy the numerous and generous free tastings, when samples of chocolate from all over the world, including Vietnam, Cuba, Bolivia and Papua New Guinea, are handed out on special trowels.
If you enjoy shopping, the city’s charming promenades are filled with vendors – more than 700 booths offer an incredible array of goodies made with chocolate – pasta, salami, liquors, cheeses, desserts, drinks and a vast array of pastries, cakes and candies, and much more.
During the festival, Perugia also hosts numerous educational and cultural events – cooking classes, banquets, chocolate theatre, a chocolate cooking competition by top chefs, and finally the much-anticipated Eurochocolate Awards. The many seminars and talks will increase your knowledge about this delectable favourite and afterward you will have no doubt about chocolate’s distinct nutritional and dietary benefits.
You can also take part in informative and lively forums that highlight the production of cocoa as a sustainable industry for third world nations. The festival has a special area that features certified Fair Trade cocoa products, made from cocoa that was bought from Third World farmers at a fair price. This cocoa was produced with full respect for workers’ rights and grown in an environmentally friendly way. Most Italian artisan chocolate makers use cocoa with the Fair Trade certification.
If you need some exercise to work off all that overindulgence, there are excellent tennis courts in the city and plenty of places to walk and cycle. Around Perugia, you will see some of the region’s most innovative architecture – the Renaissance-era Rocca Paolina Fortress, the Priori Palace and beautiful churches such as the Duomo San Lorenzo and the Basilica of San Domenico. For the more adventurous, there is plenty of climbing, trekking, rafting, canoeing and kayaking in the hills nearby.
If you are more into relaxation, you will enjoy the aromatherapy sessions that utilise cocoa and chocolate facemasks. The Eurochocolate festival also showcases the latest in chocolate beauty treatments – and some are free. What a fantastic way to top off nine days of celebrating the ‘food of the gods’.
Perugia is Umbria’s capital city, known as the ‘green heart of Italy’, and the area, with its fascinating array of mediaeval towns and hilltop villages, is a popular tourist destination. The city is 175 km from Rome and 150 km from Florence and is easily accessed by road and train. Inexpensive flights are also available from Rome and Florence. You can hire a car at the airport and train station, but be sure to book well in advance as this is a very popular festival.