Every fall in the Umbrian town of Perugia, there is held a 10-day festival which brings choco-holics from far and wide. The Eurochocolate Festival is an amazing display of chocolate in all forms, from thick hot chocolate infused with liqueurs and pastries filled with chocolate cream, to enormous chocolate bars and chocolate cups filled with alcohol.
We were lucky enough to experience the mania during our holiday in Perugia. I'd read prior to our visit that the festival tends to bring out some of the largest crowds the area sees all year, and as soon as we arrived, we found it to be very true. When we exited the train station, it was apparent that most people were headed to the historical center for the festival as well, so we just began to follow the crowd as we all boarded buses for the uphill treck into town. Perugia sits on a hill which is surrounded by valleys on all sides and then other hills past the valleys - so it lends itself to some of the most beautiful scenery, as found by the outlooks on the edges on all sides of the walled city center. It is hard to explain the layout of the city, as some streets are actually underground, while others are painted along a labyrinth of stairways, stone arches, and winding cobblestone alleys - none of which we could tell were straight in any form except the main street through town. We literally shuffled our feet to move with the blob of a crowd through the underground alleyways from the bus stop to the center of town.
There were several chocolate companies with displays and exhibits in this area. Finally we emerged back up on the street level - and into the freezing temperatures. Quickly we wrapped up our faces in our scarves and I slipped on my gloves as we took a deep breath and plunged back into the dense crowd and headed straight for the ciccolata calda (hot chocolate) stand. This is a must-see festival for any chocolate-lover. If you'd rather avoid the huge crowds, maybe try a weekday instead of the weekend, but everyday of the party will hold fun for all ages.