The dark Deposizione by Rosso Fiorentino lit up after a coin drop. The light lasted for while, long enough that we had already examined every corner of the painting, incredible, and incredibly left alone in a crumbling church in tiny San Sepolcro.
The steak covered in truffle sauce, the earthy root inundating the table with the smell of gas, delicious with Tuscan bread.
The funivia of Gubbio where we had to open our umbrellas in the tiny caged-lift to protect ourselves from the sprinkle. The views caught throughout the town that felt singular, snuck between stone arches and over Medieval walls.
The balconies of Spello, each one more decorated with flowers and ornaments than the last. The cats that frequented them all, with or without a home, they weaved in and out of balcony railings, in and out of our legs.
The prosciutto of Narni, the basilica di Assisi, the lazy days with good friends.
Our trip to Umbria was perfect. Then, there was the festival.
Two years ago I stayed in Perugia for five days. I listened to different conference speakers inside the ancient buildings, the Sala dei Notari, the Theater. I scanned the horizon for Assisi in the distance, drank beer on the fountain steps in the main piazza and made new friends of the other conference volunteers walking up and down the central street. So I was excited to get a chance to share that Perugia with the three Italians I was traveling with, all of whom have never been – and, I figured, even better if there is chocolate!
On the way we passed hundreds of people participating in the annual March of Peace, a peace walk from Perugia to Assisi, but too far in to change plans we continued on, waiting in traffic to park beneath the city center. Climbing the streets up to the hilltop town, we moved at the pace of cattle, with only a bit more room that cattle would have. There were strollers and gawkers, stands for chestnuts, sunglasses and, of course, chocolate. Finally in the historical center, the beautiful gray-tinted streets of Perugia were overwhelmed by hot, irritable tourists. A warm 75 degrees, people were already taking breaks in the shade, eating fair food and blocking traffic with their photos and phones. Mothers were already yelling at their children for wanting chocolate and dads already had red necks from carrying the little ones on their shoulders – and it was only 11:00 a.m.
We fought to make our way from the edge of town at the Hotel Brufani, the only five star hotel in Perugia, to the central Piazza, just to show off the beautiful fountain, the impressive Sala dei Notari, but by the time we arrived the stairs of the Sala were completely covered with resting visitors, the fountain’s spray being used as a makeshift air-conditioner.
We shouldn’t have come after visiting so many other beautiful towns that seemed to be there only for us to find. We shouldn’t have come on the same day as the March of Peace, the two events a harsh juxtaposition. We shouldn’t have come expecting anything different and we definitely shouldn’t have come on a Sunday. Maybe, we just shouldn’t have come.
Perugia is an amazing city pulsing with life and a-whole-lot of personality. You won’t find it, though, during the international chocolate festival.