Umbria Chocolate Festival
TERNI CHOCOLATE FEST RECALLS SPIRIT OF ST VALENTINE
Maurizio Di Mario has taken a break from his pastry shop in central Italy to indulge in a secret passion – chocolate.
The 39-year-old pastry chef has joined thousands of chocolate lovers in Terni in the region of Umbria for the 10th annual Cioccolentino festival and selected five of his favourite chocolates to present at a private degustation.
‘I have been a pastry chef for many years but my great love is chocolate,’ Di Mario tells Ansa. ‘I have selected only five so you can understand the real sensation of chocolate’.
‘My idea is to transmit joy. Eating is not just to feed yourself, it is for pleasure so relax and close your eyes,’ he tells his audience.
The temperature is hovering just above zero but hundreds of people have descended on the town to sample the best of Italian chocolate just days before St Valentine’s Day, named after the legendary saint who was born here.
Di Mario , whose family has a pastry shop in nearby Orvieto, has worked abroad in the US and Australia. He says food lovers are constantly inspired by the food and culture of Italy and chocolate is no different.
‘Italy has always been invaded by those who love food, oil and wine. This is our strength and chocolate is a new way to rediscover this excellence’.
Fausto Ercolano and Giuseppe Dolciami from L’Artigiano Perugino showcase their best chocolate. The company is based in the Umbrian capital Perugia which has its own chocolate festival once a year.
‘I have been doing this for 25 years,’ Dolciami tells Ansa.
‘There is interest across Italy and we also travel to France and Germany for presentations. Now there is growing interest from Russia, China and Japan’.
Alex Buoso represents Cioccolateria Veneziana from Piave outside Venice and his company’s stand features gourmet tartufo chocolates , slabs of chocolate filled with fruit or hazlenuts and even elegant chocolate shoes.
‘It is the first time we have come here,’ Buoso says.
‘Everyone loves chocolate and each artisan brings his own touch.
The Terni festival runs from February 9 to 14 and features artisans from 10 regions across Italy from Piedmont to Sicily.
Enrico Cipiccia, the president of Terni’s chamber of commerce, said there were a total of 60 exhibitors – double the number last year . ‘There are not only artisans from Terni but also Perugia. Chocolate from this region is recognized across Europe and around the world’.
At the festival experts from the Universita’ dei Sapori in Perugia give presentations on how to make chocolate at home, while Terni pastry chef Francesco Favorito discusses traditional cooking of the region.
‘Terni has become very successful in the chocolate sector,’ Favorito says.
‘This is the birthplace of St Valentine and chocolate has become a symbol of love and passion’.
St Valentine is one of the most famous saints despite confusion about whether there were two saints of the same name.
He was martyred for his Christian faith in 273 AD and his remains are buried in a basilica named in his honour in Terni.
ANSA by Josephine McKenna