Off to Perugia for Eurochocolate 2015

(October 19, 2015)  The annual Eurochocolate International Chocolate Exhibition, held in Perugia each year, is one of the largest exhibitions of chocolate in Europe, and draws thousands of visitors to sample the wide variety of products presented by hundreds of vendors. Bill and Shelley Trowell, Paola and Leonardo and I chose a weekday afternoon and evening to visit the festival, doing our best to avoid the impossible crowds on the bookend weekends of the event.

Posters for Eurochocolate everywhere

Posters for Eurochocolate everywhere

Theme logo of moustache dripping in chocolate

Theme Eurochocolate logo–“Lick your moustache”

We arrived in the afternoon and began to explore the booths—filled with chocolate specialties of every kind. There were chocolate shot glasses, all sorts of fondant and flavored chocolates (orange, mint, hot chili, cherry), and chocolates filled with espresso, grappa, limoncello and a wide variety of flavored liquors. Many of the vendors were happy to give small samples to taste, while others carefully guarded their products, and insisted on purchases without samples.

One of many rows of vendor booths

One of many rows of vendor booths

Chocolate with hazelnuts, and a kiss in the background

Chocolate with hazelnuts, and a “chocolate kiss” in the background

A sample of one vendor's display

A sample of one vendor’s display

REAL truffles--white and black, not chocolate

REAL truffles–white and black, not chocolate

Cutting board and sheets of dark and white chocolate

Cutting board and sheets of dark and white chocolate

All of us spent hours browsing, talking to vendors and searching out specific products. Leonardo and I searched together for the hottest chili-spiced chocolate that we could find—sampling about 6 different sources before deciding on the hottest available, the most “piccante.” Shelley and Bill were looking for treats to take home and share, but we all were just enjoying the carnival atmosphere in a cloud of the aroma of chocolates of all types.

Shelley with a vendor, negotiating

Shelley with a vendor, negotiating

A chocolate "hamburger"

A chocolate “hamburger”

Chocolate pizza in a pizza box

Chocolate pizza in a pizza box

Shelley and Bill deciding on a selection

Shelley and Bill deciding on a selection

A slice from a chocolate nougat log

A slice from a chocolate nougat log

Chocolate balls filled with liquid espresso, grappa, or liquors

Chocolate balls filled with liquid espresso, grappa, or liquors

Later, we ran into Giorgia, Arianna and baby Stella—Leonardo and Paola’s daughters and granddaughter—and they joined us for the rest of the evening. Even with all of the chocolate that we were enjoying, Paola and Shelley are always “up” for gelato, so we had to make a stop and enjoy cones of our favorite flavors.

Giorgia, Arianna and baby Stella join us

Giorgia, Arianna and baby Stella join us

Stella napping in her stroller

Stella napping in her stroller

Balloon maker cheers up small child

Balloon maker cheers up small child

Giant chocolate shoe

Giant (and real) solid chocolate shoe

Real-sized chocolate shoes for sale

Chocolate shoes for sale, the size of real heels

Bees feast on candied ginger imbedded in chocolate

Bees feast on sugar from candied ginger imbedded in chocolate

Leonardo and Paola getting samples

Leonardo and Paola getting samples

Hot chocolate here is as thick as pudding

Hot chocolate here is as thick as pudding

Bill's hot chocolate sample

Bill’s hot chocolate sample

Headlines about the crowds for Eurochocolate

Headlines about the crowds for Eurochocolate–“crowds overrun and block the streets”

Gelato break!

Gelato break!

Chocolate eggs with a chocolate-scented condom inside

Chocolate eggs with a chocolate-scented condom inside (Yes, really!)

Finally we reached the principal piazza, with Perugia’s landmark fountain, and the site of a 250 kg. solid dark chocolate moustache (i baffi), representing the theme of this year’s festival. We had seen many vendors with chocolate moustache candies for sale, and had been stopped on the street by an event staffer, who loaned Shelley and me each a moustache-on-a-stick for photos—with him in the photo, too. I suppose he was a “fun ambassador” of some kind, adding to the clowns and balloon animal creators roaming the crowds.

Leonardo and Shelley sampling spicy chocolate

Leonardo and Shelley sampling spicy chocolate

Our moustache-on-a-stick photo

Our moustache-on-a-stick photo

Landmark Perugia fountain in the central square

Landmark Perugia fountain in the central square

Leonardo headed for the huge chocolate moustache.

Leonardo headed for the huge chocolate moustache.

230 kg. moustache--the logo of 2015

250 kg. moustache–the logo of 2015 Eurochocolate Exhibition

I was a bit out of my element, as one who eats very little chocolate by choice, but I had to make exceptions for such interesting types of chocolate candies and flavors. This was certainly not an event for moderation! We all left filled, for once, with all of the chocolate that we could eat—but with plenty to take home for later.

Bill, me, Paola and Leonardo

Bill, me, Paola and Leonardo

Me, Shelley, Paola and Leonardo

Me, Shelley, Paola and Leonardo

On the way to the car--roasted chestnuts from a street vendor

On the way to the car, an opportunity for roasted chestnuts from a street vendor

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