After three weeks of rain we finally had a weekend of sunshine and 60 degree temperatures, it also happened to be that, this weekend, the annual Cioccolentino, a chocolate festival, was held in Saint Valentines home town of Terni located in Umbria. The city of Terni is only an hour out of Rome so a few friends and I decided to hop the trip to experience divine chocolate, and see a mini carnivale/valentines tradition. It was definitely one of the best decisions I have made being here!
The festival was small, but had plenty of free samples, and not only included chocolate but also cheese, olives, meat, jewelry, and other artistic goodies (including soaps shaped as cupcakes!). The streets were also filled with images of carnivale, confetti thrown everywhere and little kids dressed up in colorful dresses or as superheroes. We quickly found an artiginale chocolate vendor, who sold dark and white chocolate with cranberries, a banana chocolate, lemon ginger chocolate, chocolate with peperoncino (the spicy hot pepper) coconut, pistachio, you name it! They even had chocolate covered orange rind, figs and lots of truffles. The stand was run by two girls who seemed to enjoy speaking with us in English and sharing their delicious chocolate samples with us.
Another stand even had chocolate covered raisins, this as well as the cranberries were quite incredible to find in Italy so a friend had to grab some! Vendors also had the chocolate covered Castani (chestnuts)a perfect seasonal treat. Many stands carried chocolate shaped like the classic espresso maker, an image typical of Italy. But one even had chocolate shaped as shoes, Fiat 500s, and other goodies. I was able to buy a set of chocolate spoons here, which I knew would go perfectly with a cafè, that is a straight espresso. Well boy were we in luck!
The company Kavè has sponsored a tent bar of their own, where all coffee was offered in a sunny piazza, completely for free! I was able to enjoy my espresso with a dark chocolate spoon, it was perfection.
But before our coffee we decided to follow our noses to the sweet fragrance of the Sicilian pastry vendor. It is a very different region, but it is nice to get some different cuisines every once and awhile. I couldn’t think of having more sugar, even though the cannoli, the cassetini and sugar covered cream filled donuts were very hard to resist.
Terni had much more to offer than we expected, outside of the festival we wandered the small cobbled streets seeing adorable picturesque houses, alleys with Fiats and Vespas, balconies overflowing with flowers (more photos to come, but today is about food). Terni also had no small amount of shopping, and it turned out to still be sale season here! We spent time looking in all the stores where I was able to buy made in Italy black oxfords, and where we all spent hours looking and getting real leather bags and makeup cases for very little!
On our way out we bought some beautiful hair bows from these two girls who made accessories and jewelry from wood, they were very kind and if you are in Italy you should check them out: Falegnameria Di Domenico. We continued on where we grabbed samples of the sweet olives of Umbria, and delicious fresh cheese.
To finish the day, we did as any Italian would, we grabbed aperitivo with a nice glass of wine to counteract the sweets of the day. The festival is now finished but there is always next year! Cioccolentino occurs every year on Valentines weekend, if you are not in the country during that time, you should take a day trip to Terni, it is a beautiful relaxing town, absolutely beautiful.