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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Italy Series at ItalianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Italian holidays and observances. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1 Lesson 16, The Chocolate Festival.
Do you like chocolate? Did you know that since 1993, Italy has celebrated a Chocolate Festival? The festival is observed in the third week of October, when Perugia kicks off the Eurochocolate, one of the most important chocolate events in Europe.
In this lesson we’ll see why this festival is celebrated in Italy.
Now, before we go into more detail, we’ve got a question for you- Do you know what's so special about the chocolates of Modica, a small town in Sicily?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Chocolate, as we know, is originally from the Americas. There were makers of chocolate from the great pre-Columbian civilizations of Mesoamerica, such as the Maya and Aztecs, who were first to make use of cacao pods. It was only in the sixteenth century that this ingredient arrived in Europe, all thanks to the Spaniards. At first it was mainly consumed as a beverage, and it wasn’t until the late eighteenth century that the first solid chocolate appeared. It may have even been created in Italy, in the city of Turin, or Torino.
However, in Perugia, the chocolate-making tradition, or tradizione cioccolatiera, has a more recent origin, dating back to the last century, and is linked both to home-made chocolate and to larger companies in the industry. Over the years this celebration of chocolate has also spread to other Italian cities, such as Naples and Turin.
The chocolate festival in Perugia is still the most important, and with its numerous food stalls and events, it transforms the city into a real place of worship for chocoholics.
One of the draws of the festival is the Chocolate Sculptures event, or Sculture di cioccolato, in which skilled sculptors carve works of art from a block of chocolate one cubic meter in size. The best part of the event is the fact that the people who assist in the creation of the sculpture are allowed to eat the chocolate flakes that fall off the block.
The famous Bacio chocolate was invented by a lady who found a way to recover the hazelnut crumbs that were discarded during the production of chocolate in her factory. Originally Bacio was called Punch, cazzotto in Italian, because its shape resembles that of a fist. It was only later that it was renamed to something sweeter.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know what's so special about the chocolates of Modica, a small town in Italy?
It's that they’re the only chocolates in the world still produced according to the original cold-process Aztec recipe. The Spaniards brought this recipe to Modica in the sixteenth century.
Well listeners, how was this lesson? Did you learn something new?
Is chocolate important in your country’s tradition?
Please leave a comment telling us at ItalianPod101.com.
See you next time!