How to Survive EuroChocolate, 2017
I spent this weekend how I would like to spend all weekends in the future- in Perugia, Italy at Europe’s largest chocolate festival, Eurochocolate. Having recently (and barley) survived the eight hour day myself, I’ve decided to share my tips on making it through the weekend with all your teeth, some of your money and most of your dignity intact.
1. First thing's first- take cash. I know this seems obvious, but I’ve been gone through months of my life without ever touching a dollar bill- and not because I wasn’t spending them…Anyhow, very few vendors take card that you’ll even get strange looks if you ask. Additionally, take cash out before you get to the city center as well; the atm lines (and fees) are atrocious.
2. Eat before you go. I know this sounds counter-intuitive; isn’t the whole point of a day-long chocolate binge to consume as many of your calories as possible… in chocolate? Yes. Yes, that is the goal. However, if you don’t at least attempt to coat your stomach with something other than sugar and chemicals, you simply won’t make it till 4pm. My personal choice was an (entire) fresh marinara pizza. Lot’s of bread. Treat this like a day-drink people.
3. Take it from the top. The festival starts in The Palazzo Dei Priori, Perugia’s main square. Here you’ll find the National Gallery of Umbria which houses incredible early Renaissance treasures such as works by Arnolfo di Cambio and Beato Angelico, as well as the Collegio del Cambio, Collegia della Mercanzia and the Hall of Notaries. It is also where you to go find the chocolate beer. Balance is important, everyone. The air train will drop you off just a few blocks from the square and I suggest closing your eyes and running to it so you don’t ruin the surprise of what’s coming (I’m going to spoil it: churros and a chocolate piano).
4. Don’t buy the PassCard. Ask for samples instead! The PassCard is six euros and guarantees you samples from every stand. But guess, what, they’ll offer them to you anyways! I know, I know, this sounds morally questionable, right? But honestly, if you’re even thinking about spending 14 euros on hand-made, cranberry dark chocolate from the hills of Umbria, you have the right to try it first. And the pistachio fudge. And the truffle liquor. And maybe a spoonful of the organic, almond Nutella...
5. Save some time to check out Perugia itself! Why would you walk around some old buildings when you could be drinking from a literal chocolate fountain? It’s a toughie, but in our slightly adled, post-binge state, my blessed travel companions and I decided to walk around Perugia before our 9pm train. We discovered a series of potentially unintentional outlooks surrounding the city center that give Tuscany some serious competition. Uncongested and unpolished, these neighborhood spots give you a glimpse into real Italian life. (Not that Florence isn’t “real”, but sometimes it is so saturated with tourists you forget that laundromats and scary Chinese takeout places are a necessity in every country.)
I’m going to be honest, Perugia treated our souls better than our stomachs- everyone left with a well deserved sugar headache and a side stitch. We did, however, survive. And now, you will too! Till next year, Eurochocolate.