When I was offered the opportunity of a wine festival in Tuscany or a chocolate festival in Umbria one balmy autumn weekend, there was no question. Chocolate it was, I did not lack wine in my Italian lifestyle (nor did I really lack chocolate either, but world-famous chocolate opportunities like this don’t come up every day).
And so late on a Saturday afternoon, I arrived at this hilltop village of Perugia, which was packed full of chocolate fanatics. It was here that I learnt some very important lessons.
Eat a large, savoury meal before you arrive at the festival. Don’t arrive with a rumbling stomach and proceed to eat every form of chocolate you see within 10 metres to sate your hunger. You will feel sick at a certain point and it will reduce your enjoyment of the experience. If necessary, you can buy part of a pig once you get to the festival.
Research accommodation in the area. It doesn’t have to be Perugia itself, there are plenty of small villages nearby accessible by car or public transport. Don’t expect to take the last train home to Rome and the end of the night, as the last train is only at 9pm and packed with your fellow chocolate enthusiasts, meaning there are not a lot of seats on the train.
Arrive before it gets dark so you can stop and enjoy the view. The festival goes on until late but with all the stands to visit, rides to take, samples to enjoy and chocolate to buy you will find time gets away on you. Perugia is a beautiful city and there is a lot to see apart from the festival. I loved how the autumn leaves were the same colours as the buildings in the city itself.
Don’t overdose on chocolate before you’ve eaten a ChocoKebab. Yes, they shave the chocolate just like meat in real kebabs. Do you want a side of cream with that?
You probably won’t be back for a few more years so embrace your situation and stock up on all kinds of strange and delicious chocolates and chocolate flavoured items. I believe the famous saying “Everything in moderation, including moderation” is quite appropriate for EuroChocolate.