Squola - Center for Contemporary Italian Studies

Learning Italian through Chocolate

By Abbey Murphy
Photo by the author

Many students at FUA choose to take an Italian Language class as part of their cultural growth in a foreign country. Since language is first and foremost about communication, the Intermediate Italian II class taught by Prof. Isabella Martini has introduced field learning activities to practice newly acquired linguistic skills in the local community. “The underlying idea was to have students explore the Italian language with their five senses while adding new layers of cultural experience,” Martini states. One such activity involved attending an artisanal chocolate fair in Florence where students asked for information and listened to vendors explaining their products. Material was documented through photography and of course savoring some of the rare delicacies representing various areas of Italy.

The Fiera del Cioccolato Artigianale is without doubt the perfect one-stop-shop to fulfill all chocolate needs. Held every year around the first half of February at the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, it offers a wide range of chocolate products. I was lucky enough to attend the festival during Italian class. We observed customers trying their favorite creations that took on new shapes - white chocolate transformed into the leaning tower of Pisa and milk chocolate became a handy wrench. More distinctly Italian options featured chocolate paired with berries picked from the mountains, artisanal spins on chocolate spreads like Nutella, and an array of dried fruits dipped in chocolate. It was an important experience for us to communicate with the vendors in Italian in order to fully comprehend the wide array delicacies that are being offered. Artisans represent regions all over Italy, and each booth offered something unique. Each vendor spoke Italian in a distinctive manner and, additionally, offered products that were specific to their home region. In a way, the fair was a representation of Italy through a chocolate lens. A particular standout was a vendor selling chocolate dipped strawberries, waffles, and chocolate liqueur served in an edible chocolate cup. The options were endless at the festival, but with the help of knowledgeable Italian chocolatiers we were able to enjoy many samples to select the perfect treat to take home.



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