Friday February 10
Our day starts out nice and early for our departure for Perugia. We head outside to catch our bus at 6:30 am. My goal for the bus ride was to do homework but it was pitch black out so that didn't work. I ended up taking a nap instead. Before I knew it we were getting off the high way and driving through the mountains to get to our first destination; truffle hunting. When we finally got up the steep winding mountain to the farm the view was amazing. You could see the whole city. I wondered for part of it how the bus could possibly make it up but apparently we had a very good driver who knew exactly what he was doing. When we get to the farm we are greeted by the tour guide, a truffle hunter, the truffle dog Camilla, and the owners of the truffle company. We start the truffle hunt which is basically letting the dog run around and sniff out the truffles. When she finds ones she starts to dig it up and then the trainer has to run over so that she doesn't eat the truffle (she ended up having a couple snacks). It was really interesting being able to see how she was able to find the smallest truffle. Once the truffle is found we then used a little shovel to dig it up and I even got to dig one up! Sadly i didnt get to keep it. After finding about 15 truffles we headed to the factory for lunch. We were going to be eating lunch that was everything truffle.
When we get to the factory we start out with a tour of how the truffles are cleaned and packaged. Then we head over for a little lesson about truffles. Finally it was time to eat. We sit down to lunch with no one knowing what to expect. The only one who had any idea of wether they liked truffles or not was are Assistant Resident Director in charge of the trip who had already done this excursion before. The first course was served which was just 3 pieces of bread with 3 different types of truffle on top with some olive oil. We were introduced to each truffle and then we were allowed to eat it. We glanced nervously each other before taking a bite. It turns out they were nothing like what I would expect. While I didn't love all of them, they were actually okay. I was excited to try them in some food rather than just the raw form. The next course was bread with different types of sauces with truffle in them. One of them was even a pesto with truffle which was pretty good. They also served cheese with honey infused with truffle, and flan with truffle in it. The honey was pretty good but I am just not the biggest fan of flan. Our next course was definitely the best one. They served us nochi with a cheese truffle sauce, mashed potatoes with truffle, frittata with truffle, polenta with truffle, and chicken with truffle. Everything was amazing but the nocchi was definitely my favorite. After that we had a light dessert that no did not have truffle in it and then lunch was over. I was stuffed. I never imagined that i would like truffle but everything i ate was super good. We even got certificates that we were "official" truffle hunter now!
After lunch we headed back onto the bus to head toward the Perugina chocolate factory. When we get to the factor we are taken on a tour where we first learn about the history. Perugina is known for their Bacio chocolate which is a chocolate hazelnut middle with a whole hazelnut on top and covered in chocolate. After learning about the history we are then taken to a tasting where we get to try 10 different types of chocolate. It was all so good. My favorite was one of the special versions of the Bacio which has candied chocolate pieces in it and is covered in extra dark chocolate. It was so good. Then we go on a tour of the factory where sadly we weren't able to take pictures but it was so cool being able to see the chocolate being made. One of the things we got to see super close was them making their chocolate easter eggs which was pretty cool. After seeing the chocolate being made of course the natural thing to do was to head back to the chocolate factory and try some chocolate because why not. Then our tour was over. It was so interesting seeing everything be made. The gift shop was the next stop where of course I bought some chocolate to bring back to school.
Off to the bed and breakfast where we will be staying for 2 nights. It was also where we will be doing the cooking class tonight. When we get to the place we are showed to our apartments. The apartments were super cute and the owner even baked us a cake for breakfast the next day. We got about 20 minutes to unwind before we headed upstairs for the cooking class. I was so excited for this part of the trip. Our menu for the night was onion pizza, margarita pizza, handmade pasta with tomato sauce, and tiramisu. We split into groups of about 4 and each group got go do a portion of the cooking. I ended up doing the onion pizza. The owner had previously made the dough because it needed time to rise so i was tasked with kneading it, rolling it out, and assembly. So i wasnt told what shape to make the pizza so I assumed a circle. Good assumption right? Turns out it was suppose to be a square so i made a perfect circle to only have to cut it. Then i had to put the toppings on which was just a TON of onions, olive oil, salt, and sage. As i was assembling it i was wondering whether this pizza would actually be any good. We sit down to dinner and the first thing out is the pizza. It was surprisingly very good. I never would have imagined it would be but something about Italy makes really simple ingredients taste 10 times better than they would at home. The other pizza was great also but my favorite part of the meal was the handmade pasta. Nothing compares to pasta that you make yourself. After finishing the tiramisu we headed to our rooms to collapse and go to bed. However, when we got to our room it was an icebox! It was so cold and we couldnt figure out how to increase the heat if we even could. We ended up huddling together in the bed together to stay warm. We got all 4 of us in the bed with room to spare! That really helped us warm up and then we finally went to our beds we were definetly warmer. We set our alarm for our early day the next morning.
Saturday February 11
Today started out with yoga. We headed down the hill to the casa yog were we were going to be lead through our yoga class. Having not done yoga before it was an interesting experience. I definetly ejnjoyed it an would maybe do it again. However, there was one weird part where the leader was able to suck his stomach in so it was like an inch thick and it was kinda creepy. After a nice meditation session we headed back up the hill to change and relax for a little bit before lunch. The owner cooked us lunch and it too was really good. We had pesto pasta which was also hand made and amazing. After lunch we had some free time again where we did some homework and then we departed for the city.
Perugia is a reallycool city. We were given time to walk around, shop, have a snack and look at the scenery. There was one spot in town where you get a really good view of thescenery around us and we made sure to head back around sunset. We spent our free time doing a ton of walking and then it was time for dinner. Dinner was another great 5 course meal. However, i was exhausted by that time and loved the opportunity to sit down. After dinner we head back to the bed and breakfast which was actually warm. We were exhasutedbut we packed up because we left earl he next morning for Assisi.
Sunday February 12
Assisi is situated on a mountain and to go anywhere you have to walk up a ton of hills. I think i ended up doing the equivalent of over 70 flights of stairs from walking up the hills. We go to mass where I was freezing and then we go on a tour of the city. It was very interesting learning about the history of the city. We then had some free time to do some shopping and get lunch. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to our meetin gpoint to get on the bus to head back to Rome. I immediately fell asleep on the bus even though I planned to do some homework. Before i knew it we were back at campus. This weekend was amazing and it was great getting to see parts of Italy that I might not have been able to see. While this weekend was exhausting it was amazing. Now to go do some homework to prepare for this next school week.
I'm Sabrina Kirsch a sophmore physical therapy student at Duquesne University. I will be spending the spring semester of 2017 in Rome, Italy where I will eat my way through all the gelato and pasta they offer. My goal is to see everything possible and visit as many countries as possible.