Weekend Trips: Perugia

Once you have been living in Italy for a while, you will start to learn that although it is definitely not the largest country in the world, it is extremely diverse. The language (dialect and accent), cuisine, and even cultural customs may vary from city to city or region to region. Some cities are even known for a specific type of pasta, fruit or vegetable, dessert, or other food tradition. Perugia is one of these cities: it is known for chocolate!

Perugia, the capital of the beautiful Umbria region, is known for more than just chocolate, of course. It is a charming, historic town known for its universities and its artistic community. But in recent years it’s become more famous with Italians and foreign tourists alike because of the Perugina chocolate brand, whose “Baci” (chocolate “kisses”) are widely exported around the world. The Perugina factory located in Perugia is the largest Nestlé site in Italy.

Why not take advantage of John Cabot’s three-day weekends and take a trip to Perugia? It is only a few hours north of Rome by train, and the city’s history goes all the way back to the Etruscan period. Because the University of Perugia was founded in the 1300s, and it is home to the famous Università per Stranieri, it is commonly known as the “university town” of Italy. There are many main historical sights, churches, cathedrals, monuments, ruins, and galleries to visit in Perugia, but one of the most fun – and delicious – attractions for tourists is the annual EuroChocolate festival.

The chocolate festival, a tradition since 1993, is usually held in October, and it draws almost one million tourists each year. It lasts for nine days and offers many different activities such as chocolate art displays, chocolate tastings, performances, and chocolate sculpting. If you get lucky, you might even get to try some interesting chocolate souvenirs like chocolate-covered bananas, chocolate liqueur, and chocolate bricks.

Exploring a famous city like Perugia is the perfect way to spend a long weekend during the Fall semester. In fact, JCU offers a weekend trip in Umbria each semester: explore Perugia and its chocolate factory, Assisi, and Todi – all in three days!

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