(Note: “Abroad and in a relationship with food” is a blog that tracks my romantic relationship with food as I study abroad in Parma, Italy. Because I will never love anything as much as I love food.)
Last weekend, I had a short-lived but memorable love affair with a little restaurant in the beautiful city of Perugia, Italy. I didn't even bother to get its name.
I really only booked a trip to Perugia because it was recommended to people in my program and one of my main goals while I’m abroad is to see as much of Italy as I possibly can. As a bonus, Perugia happens to be the chocolate capital of Italy.
When we first arrived in Perugia after a late train ride, we had no idea what to expect. Secretly, I hoped that Perugia would actually turn out to be Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. While this did not turn out to be the case, it turns out that Perugia is its own world of pure imagination.
As our group of 14 people lined up to check into our hostel, a modern-day Willy Wonka appeared at the front desk in the form of a man named Daniel. Daniel was an American worker at the hostel who was clearly psyched to interact with some fellow Americans in the middle of what he described as Perugia's slow season.
By the time we were settled into our rooms, the sun had set and we needed some recommendations for where to spend the evening in this unknown land. Daniel, in a very Wonka-esque manner, offered to take us out for a mini tour of Perugian nightlife. It’s like we all got the golden ticket! (That concludes my Willy Wonka analogies, unless I think of another one.)
We ended up in a small restaurant that exuded coolness as you walked through the door, mostly because there were swings hanging from the ceiling and a lofted area with pillows and couches to the right of the entrance. We looked around wondering how all 14 of us could possibly squeeze into the little place, when
Willy Daniel told us to go down a small set of stairs that brought us into a rustic little private room with couches, tables and chairs.
It even had a hammock!
The whole thing felt too good to be true. For the sake of full disclosure, I should mention that this was the point in the evening when I got a sneaking suspicion that Daniel was actually a psychopath who was plotting to take all 14 of us. This feeling didn’t really go away until — spoiler alert! — we made it home without being taken, but since my dad has nothing in common with Liam Neeson other than his hair color, I spent most of the night plotting an escape in the back of my mind.
If you’re going to get taken away you might as well enjoy your last meal, so when the waitress came downstairs and offered to prepare a variety of typical Perugian snacks for our group, I didn’t object. We spent the rest of the night enjoying white wine and having the waiters bring down different platters of delicious food, including this one of meats, cheeses and vegetables.
I tried to make the girl from the hammock photo hand model a piece of pizza with prosciutto and cheese. I give her hand modeling skills a B+.
Perugia lived up to its reputation for making the best chocolate when the meal concluded with tortilla-like wraps full of chocolate sauce and jam. I would have taken a picture, but I was too busy pouncing to make sure that I didn't miss out on dessert. Oops.
Overall, my first night in Perugia turned out to be one of the more memorable evenings I’ve had thus far. You know those nights when you say you aren’t going to go out, and the next morning you wake up smelling like a Mod and Late Night? Well, my trip to Perugia was like a classy version of those quintessential BC weekends. I went in with low expectations, and I ended with stories that I still can’t fully comprehend myself. Plus, I didn’t get taken.
Photos by Jenna LaConte / Gavel Media