Eurochocolate International Chocolate Festival

I’m pretty sure that I’ve never seen so much chocolate in one place in my entire life. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory come to life, I kid you not. There’s really no way to explain this sort of thing so I’m putting a montage of photos down at the bottom. The Chocofest (shorten that title up) is currently taking place in Perugia, the home of the Baci candy factory (though we didn’t visit), and two days ago about 28 of us students took a bus out there to eat ourselves sick. Mission successful. I never want to see another chocolate bar again.

Among the many chocolate stands and chocolate liquor samples and CHOCOLATE KEBABS, merchandise stands were thrown up as well, and I bought myself a chocolate-bar iPod, iPad, and MacBook Pro case, just because they looked awesome. No, they aren’t made of chocolate. They look like chocolate though and have iChoc written on them. So cool. I definitely had a great time, and if I didn’t have my papers to write, I’d probably be there again today. I know I said I never want to see another chocolate bar, but . . . please. It’s the Chocolate Festival.

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The Dad Weekend

I know this is late, but midterms are creeping up on us here at Palazzo Ruccelai and I actually have work to do! Shocking, isn’t it? I have two papers to write and five exams to take, though I’m not terribly concerned about any of it. Papers have always been easy to churn out and I pay attention in class well enough to know the material with little review. Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll get some studying in, but it’s hard to review for a practical fresco exam. No walls to slather in┬ámortar┬áhere in my apartment.

It’s been about a week since my dad was here, and I’m glad to hear from home that he had a good time while here in Florence. Having gone to France to see my grandparents, aunt, and little cousin, the jump to Italy wasn’t far and obviously seemed convenient. We’re not far from each other. Wednesday evening I picked Dad up at the airport, seeing as his lack of directional sense would probably have gotten him lost IN the terminal and we both set off to Poggio Imperiale, where he’d be staying for the five nights he was here. We ate dinner at this little hole-in-the-wall down the street, indulging in the first pizza and seafood of the short trip. I crashed at his apartment, seeing as he was the same distance from Palazzo Ruccelai as my apartment is, and I wanted to show him around the campus anyway.

Introducing Dad to various professors on Thursday was an interesting experience. Some were more responsive than others, my Italian prof for one seeming a little more standoffish than he is in class and my Photo prof jabbering away in Spanish about Alicante and San Juan just as naturally as she would with any Spanish person. I’m not entirely sure what Dad did while I was in class, though I do know he managed to find his way to and from my school twice without getting lost *insert applause here* but he’s always been good with visual association rather than verbal directions. I am, too. Seeing something and remembering it in relation to location has always been easier for me. ONce I got through with classes at 3, Dad and I joined a tour party given by my student coordinator, Alessia, of the Altrarno, or “across the river.” Altrarno is rarely frequented by American students, probably because it’s too damn far of a walk, but there’s a wealth of cafes, restaurants, and clubs out there with a grittier Italian feeling than the center of town. I haven’t been out there as much since last weekend (because it’s a damn far walk) but hopefully I’ll spend some more time out there this week. There’s a cool cafe just over the bridge from my school where I can spend some time “studying.”

No, really. I need to write my papers.

Friday was spent apart, seeing as I had my History/Culture of Food field trip. I had asked the professor prior to Dad’s arrival if bringing him along would be alright, but unfortunately Prof. Fischer said no. Understandable, seeing as if he allowed one non-student along, he’d have to open the door to anyone else who wanted to go, that and our group was already a large one. While I spent time at an organic farm and the headquarters of the Slow Food Movement, tasting local wine and (slowly) eating locally produced food, Dad started on his mission as given from Mom: complete the list. I want to know if this is a common thing, or just a Mom thing. Who else gets lists when going to a foreign country? Dad picked up a vespa skirt, which is basically a flap that attaches to the front of the scooter and protects the lower body from the elements, ie rain, but was kind enough to wait for me to do the bulk of the shopping over the weekend.

That night, Dad, Daniel (who we picked up along the way) went to dinner at another hole-in-the-wall called Giglio Rosso, down near the train station. We indulged in a bottle of lambrusco and some delicious pastas and seafood (for the boys), and Dad tackled Daniel’s familial and academic history with usual nosy vigor that he subjects everyone to at some point in their lives. Don’t worry Mom. Very good behavior from the Daddy. Daniel took it with great aplomb, however. Even seemed to enjoy it at times.

We spent Saturday in San Lorenzo Market, hunting down pasta, aprons, flags, and masks in between munching at the Central Marketplace and sipping the first hot chocolate of the season. The marketplaces have to be my favorite parts of the city. The atmosphere rarely changes but it never ceases to amaze me that outside of the city central filled with tourists standing around and gawking at the buildings there’s a bunch of people going about their lives as their ancestors have for centuries. I’m sure the guy who sells his leather jackets at the corner stall sounds just like his predecessor from Roman times when trying to convince that poor foreigner that it’s just “250 but for you sir, special price, 220, special price.” I imagine the prices were a little different back then, though.

Finally Sunday came around and Dad and I took one last leap at a much wanted tour that we’ve been eyeing for the past few years: segways. I’m sure you saw the videos. The pricing was good for two hours, with a student discount, and we spent the afternoon zipping around the city on two wheels each, carefully avoiding people and not-so-carefully avoiding street curbs and obstructing bicycles. I’m not going to lie and say we were pros. Definitely nearly ran into a police car once or twice. It also brought up some questions: can you get ticketed for driving segways recklessly? What about segwaying-under-the-influence? Do SUIs exist? Something to find out, I’m sure.

I escorted Dad back to the airport on Monday afternoon. No tearful goodbye or anything but I was sad to see him go. I mean, it’s not like family’s going to be coming out to see me anytime soon. Mind, my cousin Danielle teaching in Spain doesn’t count. She’s already here. Christmas without the extended family will be an interesting experience this year between just Danielle and I. No black-bean soup. I don’t know if Mom’s doing paella again this year, but I’ll say no paella anyway since I certainly can’t make it. No teasing Ian or having breakfast at Mrs. P’s before heading to Tita Betty’s . . . no presents . . .

Of course, I’ll be glad to accept any and all money you’re interested in putting towards Nikki’s Study Abroad Fund! :D