Perugia’s Eurochocolate Festival is a must for chocoholics!

To make the most of your visit to Perugia’s annual Eurochocolate Festival, there is one key phrase you need to learn – “Potrei assagiarlo per favore?” (Pronounced Poh-trey ah-sah-jar-lo per fah-vor-ray) It means “Could I taste it please?” And although not every chocolatier offers tasters, many will happily give you a chunk or chip of chocolate to try before you buy! What are you waiting for?!

Mmmm, chocolate!

Mmmm, chocolate!

Perugia, the regional capital of Umbria, has been the hilltop home of the annual festival since 1993, when the city set up an “Oktoberfest for chocoholics.”

One of your five a day?

One of your five a day?

The 2014 nine-day event ran from Friday 17th October to Sunday 26th October (2015’s Eurochocolate festival runs from 16th to the 25th October) and as one of Europe’s largest chocolate festivals is expected to welcome up to 1 million chocoholics! Oh and did I mention that its free!

Pick your flavour

Pick your flavour

Arriving at the train station on a glorious late summer afternoon, there is little sign of what awaits. But the minimetro is unusually busy as locals, tourists and families pile into the driverless trams for the 5 minute climb to the historic summit.

Looking out over the Umbrian countryside

Looking out over the Umbrian countryside

Stopping to admire the view out over the Umbrian countryside, a sweet perfume wafts gently down from Piazza Matteoli where stands overflow with chocolate goodies! And that’s just the start.

Which one is your favourite?

Which one is your favourite?

Around 80 chocolatiers take over the city centre with stalls in Piazza Italia, Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza IV Novembre and Piazza Matteoli, along the main streets of Corso Vannucci, Via Mazzini, Via Fani and on the terrace of the covered market.

A chocolate treasure map!

A chocolate treasure map!

And whether you like your chocolate in chunks, cakes, to drink hot, as fondant truffles, or cold as a licquor, there is something to suit most tastes.

Truffling for truffles

Truffling for truffles

Glass-countered stands burst with the finest cocoa-dusted praline truffles and star-sprinkled hand-made lollipops.

Lollipop, lollipop!

Lollipop, lollipop!

Oooh lovely lollipops!

Oooh lovely lollipops!

Nutty slabs are piled high under the welcome shade of the centuries old palazzi, whilst wasps and visitors fight over fruity, sugar-encrusted chocolate wedges.

Fruit and nut

Fruit and nut

And mixed in with the typical hazelnut sprinkled milk chocolate slabs, are chilli pepper peperoncino dark chocolates and creamy pistachio white chocolates which are, in fact, green but don’t let that put you off!

Green chocolate never tasted so good!

Green chocolate never tasted so good!

Chilli pepper truffles!

Chilli pepper truffles!

If Willy Wonka was to build a city, this is what it would be like.

Chocolate muffins for breakfast?

Chocolate muffins for breakfast?

Chocolate muffins with hot chocolate for breakfast , chocolate salami for lunch with chocolate drizzled fruit and, finally, chocolate kebabs and ice-cream for dinner followed by a chocolate licquor night-cap! Too much?!

Milk, white or dark chocolate?

Milk, white or dark chocolate?

One of the undoubted high points of the festival, however, is on the first Sunday when talented sculptors are challenged to create edible art. This year four huge blocks of Perugina chocolate, from the makers of the famous Italian Baci, each weighing over a tonne, have been manoeuvred into place in Via Vannucci and Piazza Matteoli under cover of darkness to await the artists.

Chocolate delivery for Perugia!

Chocolate delivery for Perugia! (Photo courtesy of Eurochocolate.com)

By 10am on Sunday morning small crowds have gathered around each of the blocks. But they aren’t there to appreciate the art.

Work begins

Work begins

As the artists – Massimo Arzilli, Maria Rosaria Caramia, Livio Paolantoni e Doru Emil Andrii – and their assistants take up their hammers, picks and chisels to begin work, the scrum’s intentions become clear as people stretch and strain to catch the chunks and chips of  chocolate flying off the blocks!

Free chocolate!

Free chocolate!

Fortunately Perugina staff are stationed around the sculptures to scoop handfuls of tasty chocolate chips into bags for distribution to the crowds.

Free chocolate!

The lovely Perugina staff bag up the chocolate pieces!

But as the statues gradually begin to take shape the clammer for chocolate grows. I never thought I’d see grown men and women snatch sweets from out of the hands of children, (most do give them back when challenged). Chocolate makes people a little mad it seems!

There is enough for everyone!

There is enough for everyone! (Photo courtesy of Eurochocolate.com)

But when the man behind me starts to push forward in front of pensioners and children, insisting he’s come all the way from Bari just for this and therefore deserves priority over everybody, I’ve had enough! The usual British scowl of disapproval doesn’t work so I throw down my trump card telling him I’ve travelled from the UK which, although not strictly true, gives the crowd a giggle and shuts him up! All’s fair in love and chocolate!!!

For the love of chocolate

For the love of chocolate

The festival isn’t just about chocolate though and also includes lots of other family entertainment. Street artists, clowns, and nifty balloon twisters keep the children amused in between sugar hits!

Clowning around

Clowning around

But ultimately Umbria’s Eurochocolate Festival is made for chocoholics. And whatever your preference, whether its milk, dark or white chocolate, with or without nuts, pure or enriched with crystallised fruits, Perugia is the place for you. If you haven’t booked your flight or train yet, clear your diary and get packing as a whole city of chocolate is waiting! Buon appetito!!

Perugia's Eurochocolate Festival takes over the city

Perugia’s Eurochocolate Festival takes over the city

Useful information

The 2015 Eurochocolate festival runs from 16th to the 25th October

Official festival website here

Opening hours – 9am-11pm Saturday, 9am-8pm all other days

Eurochocolate card – €5 – gets you lots of “free” chocolate and discounts but is not obligatory – entry to the festival is free!

Dietary information : The festival is conscious of visitors’ dietary requirements with many stands, including the Perugina statues, listing ingredients and allergens. Those with a nut allergy might have trouble (many products contain nuts or traces), as might vegetarians and vegans, but gluten-free and fairtrade (Equochocolate) products figure quite prominently. Have a very happy Eurochocolate festival!!

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19 Responses to Perugia’s Eurochocolate Festival is a must for chocoholics!

  1. Wow wow wow!!! First of all, the photos are so vibrant! Second of all, Perugia is such a beautiful city and finally, GIMME CHOCOLATE!!! So amazing and I’m craving some right now!
    Thanks so much for always sharing in Italy with us!
    Ps the statue is so spectacular!

    • lizbert1 says:

      Thank you so much Lia, it was chocolate overload and it was difficult to know what to try first and what to buy!! Its a definite must for any chocoholic and as you say Perugia is beautiful too which makes the whole thing all the better! Wonderful views out over the countryside to Assisi, chocolate stalls everywhere, 2000 years of history wrapped up in one city!! Whats not to like! And thank you so much for reading, its always great to be able to share experiences when travelling alone!! Keep up your great work too! :o)

  2. OMG. At first glance, I wanted to dive into the first picture of chocolates and nibble my way out. Looks like heaven ,,, chocolate heaven. This post borders on mean – dangling all that beautiful chocolate in front of us poor chocolate deprived souls that can’t be there. Enjoy the chocolate for all of us.

    • lizbert1 says:

      Sorry about that, it was difficult to know which pics to post as there were so many to choose from but hopefully these captured the essence of what was on show!! Pity we don’t have scratch and sniff blogs so you could get the wonderful aroma too but thanks for reading and leaving such lovely comments! :o)

  3. gsrjedi says:

    Added to my bucket list. The chocolate looks delicious

  4. suggs69 says:

    How long did it take to get there from Venice? That statue is just two sprayed performers right?

    • lizbert1 says:

      2 trains and about 4.5 hours. And yes, the 2 people are street artists. I didn’t get to see the finished sculptures as I had to catch my train and haven’t found any pics online yet but will post one when I do!

  5. Fishink says:

    I’m guessing how difficult this post must have been, visiting all those chocolate shops, photographing all the beautiful creations and smelling all those smells. Darn you got a tough job young lady ; )

  6. Oh my dear Lizzie…..what a delicious post…..thank you for taking one for the chocolate team…..I could smell it as I read all about it 🙂 I remember years ago in my hotel room in Lucca, trying to decide where I would be going next and reading about a chocolate cherry cake that was a specialty in Perugia…..and yes, that was the deciding factor on my next stop !! 🙂 It was yummy by the way, very worth the trip….

    • lizbert1 says:

      Chocolate cherry cake?? That sounds wonderful Cecelia, I love both!!! I wish you’d come with me to this festival but add it to your list for next time as I think you’d be squealing with delight at all the different chocolates!! Mind you, the chocolate ginger didn’t look as good as Vizio Virtù’s in Venice – theirs is still the very best I’ve ever tasted!!! xxxx

  7. This is amazzzzzing and I will definitely be adding this to my festivals bucketlist!!! 🙂

  8. Pingback: Festivals in Europe! | California Globetrotter

  9. I got there the day they were taking down as I didn’t know about it back then. I can only imagine how it smells around that area then. You must gain weight just from the air ; )

    • That’s such a shame but I hope you have the chance to see it one day! And yes, I’m sure I gained a few pounds just walking round and inhaling the chocolate not to mention the chocolates I bought….!!! Plus if you go for the chocolate sculpting there is FREE Perugina chocolate for everyone who waits – now who doesn’t like free chocolate!?!! ;o)

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