Eurochocolate was in full swing by the time we walked down into the main piazza and it was insane! The city was filled with booths selling chocolates from all over the world and everyone was busy buying it hand over fist! There was a genuine and continuous sea of people all down the Corso Vannucci and the streets surrounding it. The Carducci Gardens, which have been closed for restoration opened in time for the festival and were also the scene of stalls selling chocolates in every imaginable shape and flavor, the big new popular one being chocolate with hot pepper! We had to do our share of sampling as well and I believe I have eaten more chocolate in these past days than during any Easter week as I was growing up, munching all those ears off all those Easter bunnies! I would like to say it was fun, but the truth is that there were so many people here it was hard to get from one end of the city to the other and I guess I would have preferred to show my kids around during any other normal weekend in Perugia!
On Sunday, the big event was the chocolate sculpting. In at least 4 or 5 different locations down the Corso Vannucci, they had set up these huge blocks of chocolate and right in front of the crowds that gathered around them, sculptors began hacking away at them, with electric tools and with hammers and chisels, breaking off chunks of chocolate which their assistants gathered up, put in plastic bags and threw out to the crowd! When things started getting ugly (one guy reached out and grabbed several bags and I thought the people around him where going to beat him to a pulp if he kept taking them!) we decided it was too much for us and went about exploring the city again, trying to find a quieter area. The streets were definitely closed so there would be no taking a drive. Chris had to go home on Monday, so we spent a quiet night in the apartment. He was still not feeling very well with his cold in full swing and allergies acting up that we were all hoping he was going to be OK during his long flight home.
Early Monday morning we drove him to the airport (Cry, Hug, Cry) staying off the main highway so that we could enjoy the scenery, passing mile after mile of tree farms, rolling hillsides and vineyards and said our goodbyes. We took a different route back to Perugia than we had the week before. Trying to bypass the traffic of the ring road around Rome, we headed north towards Perugia along the coast and simply happened onto some of the most incredible things: having coffee and pastries in a little bar in Lido di Ostia, a beach town that has seen better days but having fun picking up pretty colored rocks along the sea; walking through the streets of Ostia Antica, the town, not the Roman ruin (which was unfortunately closed on Mondays) that Jessica swore was built by Steven Spielberg to represent the classic ancient Roman village with its mottled walls of rusts, golds and reds and flower pots everywhere; passing through Civitavecchia; climbing around on the remains of a Roman aqueduct that paralleled the road we traveled and coming upon more lovely little hilltowns in southern Umbria. We even stopped in a few, just to walk around a bit and see things up close.
On Tuesday we took her to Gubbio, where the weekly market was in full swing and Bob dropped us off at the Roman amphitheatre and went in search of a parking place. We wandered around the ruin, waiting for his return and then we took a quick peak at the market before heading up hill where we rode the Funivia to the top of Mount Ubaldo. I wasn't nearly as terrified as the first time I rode with Bob and Jessica & I had fun taking each other's pictures from the dizzying heights above the city. We showed her where the Ceri are kept and told her about the festival we attended in May and how they race to the top of the mountain carrying these giant candlesticks with the saints on top, and then rode back down again. We even found the photo shop where photos of the festival had been posted that day and looked through a stack of them until we found a few where you can actually see Bob, holding up his camera, almost a little dot in the sea of faces, but there he is, living proof that we were part of the excitement of that day! Of course we had them make copies for us that we will treasure forever.
Wednesday we drove to Lago Trasimeno and explored Passignano sul Trasimeno, hiking up the steps to the top of the town and looking out at the view and just walking by the side of the lake. We drove all around the area, stopping in one of the other towns that border it, a place we had not yet visited, Castiglione del Lago.
On Thursday we decided it should be a restful day and a day for seeing a bit more of Perugia and allowing her time to pack and get ready to go home. She bought a few more bars of chocolate as souvenirs and we got some to ate right away that day! I fixed a dinner of roasted chicken with potatoes, carrots and onions in basted in a chicken broth and wine sauce and we just hung out together. Our neighbors unfortunately chose this night to make a ruckus outside so I'm sorry to say her last night was a fairly sleepless and for that we felt bad. We have had this problem from time to time as I have mentioned before but I had hoped it would be quiet while our kids were here. Unfortunately it's not been something we have had a lot of control over and it changes from month to month as different students move in and out.
It was so wonderful to spend time with both of them. Chris brought a movie of Kyla, which we loved and will continue to watch over and over until the next installment comes which he promises to do often. They each brought us music CDs and a few movies on DVD that we can watch on Bob's laptop. Chris picked up a pair of jeans that Bob wanted and they both also brought books and a few other things we needed. Jessica says she will come back again when we are in Sicily but Chris doesn't think he can come until next year. It was so hard to say goodbye to both of them and we will miss them so much. We know that even if we lived in Phoenix we would not see them all the time and even though we talk to them every week (at least) it is still hard to be so far away. We look forward to the next time we will be together which won't be soon enough for me!
We've been spending this last week cleaning the house, doing laundry and preparing for our good friends Art and Chris to arrive on the 2nd of November. We said a tearful goodbye to them in February just before we left Phoenix and cannot wait to see them again. We are so delighted that they want to come see us and we have planned some fun things with them also. This is their first visit to Italy so we want to make sure they see the important things but don't overload them until it all becomes a blur. We'll let you know how it goes!
They will be leaving Italy on the 20th of November and after which we will be packing up and leaving this city we have enjoyed so much. It will be quite a change from the mountains and hill towns of Umbria to the Mediterranean Sea but we are ready for the change. We have no idea what to expect from Christmas in Sicily and are excited to see what that will be like. Don't expect any new posts until after Art and Chris return home. We will try to do a posting before we leave for Sicily and if time and circumstance allows, perhaps we can find an internet café along the road to document our travels south.
Until the next time,
rimaniamo, Rosemary e Robert in Italia