Perugia is a beautiful hilltop city, the primary city of the Umbria region, in Italy. It’s famous in Italy and internationally as a foreign university city, people come from all over the world to study here and there is no wonder why. It’s walkable, friendly and safe, full of art, history and outstanding views. It’s a perfect city to study and socialize and explore a culture. A big part of visiting Perugia is trying the food, typical dishes of Umbria can be found in plenty around every corner, for example, pork and also black truffles are a really huge freaking deal (eat whatever they offer, you won’t be sorry), but Perugia has somewhat of a secret when it comes to deliciousness and it’s time to clue travelers in.
A lot of tourists don’t realize that Italian chocolate comes from Perugia, the Baci Perugina factory is in the suburbs of the city, and you can go to it and they will feed you chocolates and you will need nothing else from life. It’s usually clear that Perugia is the place for Italian chocolates when visitors arrive, as there are shops all over the city center, but less people realize that if you hop on the right public bus (A) and go for a 20 or so minute ride out of the city you can see how it all happens. You won’t be concerned when you get off the bus at a stop that looks a little like an industrial park that no one cares about… because you can smell the Perugina chocolate factory before you can see it. Just follow that, walk into what looks like a truck entrance of that parking lot and you’ll see the building with the big Nestle sign (yeah that’s right, they’re behind it all — they own everything).
You need to call and schedule a tour in advance to make sure you get on one in your language, or you can do what I did and not plan ahead at all, show up, and have a group of very friendly Chinese tourists insist to the guide that you are totally part of their group and need to be let in since there were no more English tours that day, and then not understand your tour at all but still have a really great time. Worth it. The first part of the tour is in the museum, where you learn about Baci through history (baci means kisses in Italian), including but not limited to watching old timey super corny commercials. You’ll also see a replica of the largest Baci chocolate ever made, and immediately proceed to wish it wasn’t a replica.
But not to worry, after the museum comes the tasting. Essentially your group (usually of no more than 10 people) basically gets to try every single item the factory makes as many times as you want… #bestlife. Once everyone is about ready to die, you move on into the actual factory where you see how it’s made. Cameras go off and phones stay in pockets, that’s the rules, if you want to know how the oompa loompas make their magic, you’ll just have to go visit yourself.
When the tour is finished don’t forget to stop by the gift shop, which has way better prices than the stores in town.
All photos via Sarah Freeman