We took a Sunday afternoon stroll to the weekend Chocolate Festival being held at Santa Croce. I have absolutely fallen in love with the passeggiata (promenade) while here in Italy - and the phenomenon seems to be the best on Sundays when everyone is off work, and out to strut their stuff. People of all ages fill the streets, and even though most shops are closed, people mingle in and out of gelaterias and window shop, just taking their time walking through the streets. Most people are holding hands or linking arms and chit-chatting about the week. Normally, we'll run into a happening of sorts somewhere in the city. I try to check the paper during the weekends to see if there is any type of festival or exhibition, and in most cases, there is. This week was no different, and since it's the middle of the Carnevale festivities, the streets were a little more active.
We arrived in Piazza Santa Croce in the afternoon, and were immediately greeted by a plethora of activities. There was a clown street performer on a box watching the people pass by, a group of little boys play fighting with balloon swords, and a make-shift stage with 3ft high marionettes dancing to gypsy music. We wandered through the crowds of people among 2 rows of white tents filled with different chocolate companies displaying their finest selections. We tried a chocolate truffle infused with balsamic vinegar, a liquorice flavored dark chocolate ball, and our absolute favorite: white chocolate balls with a crispy middle layer filled in the center with several drops of Sambuca! We first tried these at the Eurochocolate Festival in Perugia last October, and had our eyes out for them again this time.
There were some very interesting chocolate concoctions, including very realistic, true to size, tool-shaped chocolate bars with dry cocoa sprinkled on the outside to resemble rust. I don't really think I could eat one of these because it would feel too much like I was chewing on a rusty screwdriver, but there were people buying them though. Also, I saw chocolate Mr. Potato Heads, chocolate salon products, plenty of hot chocolate, and very expensive herb-infused chocolate truffles.
There was a small raised stage closer to the church side of the piazza, where there were about 5-6 kids jumping around throwing handfuls of confetti and spraying silly string everywhere. There were kids walking around in random costumes like it was Halloween, but during the weeks of Carnevale, it becomes an excuse for superhero and princess outfits to come out of the attic. Also, almost every street in town is littered with handfuls of colorful confetti as people just walk around with big bags of the stuff throwing it at will. Chris was waiting by a corner as we were leaving, and I was taking a photo of the puppet show...when I caught up with him, he turned around to reveal the left side of his head and jacket filled with blue silly string. He said that he was just shot with it by a little girl walking by. He was a little shocked, but I just laughed. It must be a fun week to be a kid!