Lessons from the Road #8: Perugia

Lesson #8:  Sometimes it’s necessary to rely on the kindness (and directions) of strangers.

Chocolate lovers that we are, several of us decided that we wanted to tour the Perugina chocolate factory, just outside of Perugia in San Sisto. We didn’t sign up for a chocolate-making class—though you can do that too. We just went for the tour.

Rather than driving, we decided to use public transportation. Two of our group opted out of the trip entirely, one having turned his ankle the day before; four decided to skip the chocolate factory and just wander around Perugia; six of us were all about the chocolate.

Our group of ten hit the bar beside the grocery store at the bottom of the hill to purchase bus tickets and then piled on the bus when it arrived. Those of us who were going to the chocolate factory said “ciao” to our friends at the main stop in Perugia’s city center and went on to the train station and the transfer to our next bus.

Then we tried to determine which stop we needed for the chocolate factory. A very kind woman heard us talking and, in broken English (but better than our more broken Italian), told us to get off at the fifth stop after hers—while she held up four fingers. “Grazie,” we said, as she got off the bus smiling and waving four fingers at us. An equally helpful young man told us it was the next stop after his—and that stop was indeed the fourth stop after the woman had disembarked.

“I love chocolate,” said a friend just behind me as we walked into the entrance for the tours. The rapturous devotion in his voice said it all. I laughed and agreed.

We purchased our tickets for the tour and then walked around the chocolate museum while we waited. Display cases explained the history of Perugina chocolate and showcased historical ads and boxes and brands.

Choc History2 Choc History1

Before the actual tour, we were treated to a free tasting of several of the Perugina products. My favorites were the 70% dark chocolate Nero and their signature hazelnut-chocolate Baci (from the Italian for “kisses”).

Baci Kissing Kitties

During the tour itself, we walked through a windowed passageway above the factory floor, where we could see the chocolates being produced and packaged. As a technical writer, I’ve been on pharmaceutical, medical device, and secondary food packaging production floors to observe processes and write instructions. But I’d never been in a chocolate factory before. I enjoyed watching the conveyors full of chocolates and the robots that picked them up to place them in boxes, to be checked by human Quality Control workers before the boxes were closed and sealed.

Tour complete, we spent some time in the gift shop, purchasing chocolates to bring home to family and friends.

Then it was back on the bus and back to Perugia to grab some lunch, wander for a bit,…

Perugia Colorful Shutters Perugia 2

Perugia Tiered Fountain Top of Tiered Fountain - Perugia Griffin e Lion Perugia

find some great doors,…

Perugia Door Perugia Door 2 Perugia Door 4

and check out the views.

Perugia View Perugia View bt Buildings Perugia View3 Perugia View 4

Our next adventure came in finding the correct bus stop to get us back to Ramazzano. After some searching on our own, I popped into a tobacconist shop and asked the man behind the counter, in my very broken Italian, “Dove autobus a Ramazzano?”

His eyes widened. “Oh,” he said. “I don’t know.” Then he led me outside and pointed in two different directions, speaking in Italian that I couldn’t follow very well. But I could guess what he meant: “I don’t know for sure. It could be this one, or it could be that one.”

The friend who had graciously volunteered to dive into the rain to scope out lunch possibilities the day before headed toward the more distant location, while the rest of walked to the closer one. The closer stop proved to be the one we needed.

Back at the villa, some of us rested or read while those who had agreed to make dinner started preparations. Again, we ended the day with a wonderful shared meal and much conversation and laughter.

A day full of friends—and the kind help of some strangers.

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3 Responses to Lessons from the Road #8: Perugia

  1. tpolen says:

    I totally would have been with you on that chocolate tour!

  2. sstamm625 says:

    It was really fun. We all wished the tasting part lasted longer–we thought the guide rushed us through it!

  3. I visited Perugia once when we were staying by Lake Trasimeno. It’s a lovely old town, full of students when we were there and very animated.

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