On our first day in Tuscany, we drove to Perugia and Assisi.
Perugia has an annual chocolate festival in October, and we were in luck. Perugia has a long pedestrian street that is filled with stands of European chocolate makers. We did as everyone else — we looked at the chocolate and ate.
One of our favorite foods of central Italy is porchetta — fatty, boneless pork wrapped in skin and roasted so that the skin is crisp. On a previous trip, we visited this chocolate festival, and we had fond memories of the porchetta sandwich (panini) we bought at the bottom end of the chocolate festival stands. We walked quickly through the stands, and we were rewarded. We shared this porchetta panini with veggies — grilled eggplant and peppers. With the moist veggies, it was even better than I remembered. 🙂
We found a nearby bench in the shade and savored our panini. A young Italian family ate at the next bench. The father and his young daughter (about three years old) were sharing a bottle of soda. The girl wanted the bottle instead of the cup. She fussed until her father gave her the full bottle of soda. And then she ran off with the bottle and drank. The father held his empty cup, and he asked her for some soda. After repeated entreaties, the girl walked back to the bench and slowly poured a half-inch of soda into her father’s cup and stopped. He asked for more, and she’d slowly pour another half-inch and stop. They went through this a half dozen times! This little girl had wonderful coordination, and more important, she clearly understood how to take control of the soda bottle and use that control.
We also had a small cup of thick, warm chocolate. We’d scoop some chocolate with a small, plastic spoon shaped like a shovel. The chocolate was so thick that it started to harden as it cooled. Sorry, we were too occupied enjoying the chocolate before it hardened to take a picture.
Similarly, I cannot report on Perugia’s art or architecture. On both visits, we simply ate our way through the chocolate festival.
After lunch we drove to Assisi. The Assisi Basilica, shown below, was built after St. Francis was canonized. St. Francis was famous for his vows of poverty, and he truly lived as he believed. San Francisco, California, is named for St. Francis.
The cathedral houses Giotto frescoes and relics and the tomb of St. Francis. But they don’t allow photos. The church complex is a World Heritage site.