Perugia was a refreshing breath of spring-time air, filled with rich history and even richer chocolate.
We started the day with a tour of the Perugina Chocolate factory. We learned about the history of the factory, the typical products they make and the process of chocolate making. We also got to taste several of their most popular products (the highlight of the tour).
After the tasting session, we toured the factory itself. Unfortunately, due to the top secret nature of Perugina chocolate making, we were not allowed to take pictures. But I can tell you – and this will come as a surprise to anyone else who has visited Hershey Park – that there was a disappointing lack of singing cows.
The most popular product of the Perugina factory is a chocolate known ad Bacio. This is a delicious candy made up of a nutty, chocolatey paste that is then topped with a whole hazelnut and dipped in a layer of chocolate.
They are then packaged with a small note about love or friendship – reminiscent of the American fortune cookie.
Interestingly enough, this candy wasn’t always called “bacio.” Initially, it was known by the Italian word for “fist” or “punch.” The company decided this was too harsh a word for a sweet little treat, so they changed the name to Bacio – the Italian word for kiss.
Somewhere in Hershey, Pennsylvania, a trio of signing cows are mooing suspiciously.
After our chocolate factory excursion, we took the Mini Metro (or tuna boxes, as our professors called them) into the city of Perugia.
Our first stop in the city was lunch. We feasted on amazing food (pasta, a plate of some sort of meat and tiramisu so good I nearly started crying) with an equally amazing view.
Perugia is a beautiful city in the small region of Umbria. It is a very old city, dating back to the Etruscan period. It still has many standing structures from B.C.E.
With a history stretching so far into the past, it was easy to fall in love here. We strolled the quiet streets taking in the relaxing atmosphere. We took in the golden sun and the calming breeze. We saw stunning churches and stunning views.
This little town tucked between the mountains is hardly a tourist destination – but that’s what makes it so special.
Florence has been robbed of its identity by flocks of tourists that overtake the narrow streets. As the weather gets warmer, the city gets uglier. It loses itself behind selfie sticks and Hawaiian shirts.
An afternoon in an off-the-map city reminded me that Italy is a country rich in history. Though it is getting harder and harder to love Florence, I need to spend my last month here digging under the grime of tourists and trying to see the city for what it really is: a beautiful Renaissance treasure.