Perugina Chocolate Factory!

We are always looking for fun and interesting family activities in the Tuscumbria area and we think the Casa del Cioccolato is a must-see place for both visitors and chocolate lovers.

The Casa del Cioccolato (Perugina Chocalate Factory) is located a short taxi ride from downtown Perugia, Italy, and is where the famous Italian Baci chocolates are manufactured.

It's hard not to feel like Charlie at the Wonka Factory when you visit the Perugina Chocolate Factory in Perugia, Italy. The deliciously sweet smell of chocolate greets you as you pull into the factory's parking lot. At the factory you can take a tour to see how the Baci chocolates are manufactured. Baci (Italian for "kisses") is a hazelnut covered by sweet chocolate that is then wrapped in a love note.

English-speaking tours require advance booking and tour reservations can be made up to 15 days before your visit. We strongly suggest that you call ahead to make sure the factory is open on the day you wish to visit.

Tel: 011 39 0245467868

Gadget Review: Portable Cinema

Every now and then we like to post a gadget review that we think might make traveling a little easier and more enjoyable for the entire family.

When we stay in Tuscumbria, Italy, our sole connection to the world is through an internet connection at the house we stay at. There is no television. The phone is rarely used. Our smart phones and tablets are no longer glued to our hands.....and we wouldn't dream of having it any other way...that is, until we had kids.

While there is something immensely appealing about being disconnected from the outside world (and we do love the disconnect), there are some gadgets that we feel enhance any family traveling experience.

For a while now we have always thought how nice it would be to have a family movie night while traveling abroad. No, we're not talking about family night out at the movie theater or in front of the tv curled up on the couch (though that does sound nice!) but, rather, family movie night outside on the front lawn which looks down upon and across the undulating mountains of Tuscumbria.

So how would this fantasy become a reality? The cost alone of renting a large projection screen would be enough to discourage most people from even considering this. And what about the projector? Good projectors cost at least $500 dollars these days and for one movie night outdoors the benefit just didn't seem to outweigh the cost. What about the power source? Would we be able to run a power cord all the way outside to power the projector? Lastly, the idea of getting all of this equipment (either renting or buying) while abroad or bringing it all with us just seemed like too much of a hassle and expense. So we let the idea simmer on the back burner for a couple of years.

Recently, our fantasy of having a movie night outside with the kids while traveling abroad took a giant step forward into reality. We found a relatively inexpensive way to put together a portable movie kit that we can bring anywhere we travel and here's what we came up with.


Brookstone Pocket Projector ($199)
The first step we needed to solve was finding a projector that was both portable, powerful enough to give a decently bright/colorful image and could run off of its own power source. We came across the Brookstone Pocket Projector which was exactly what we were looking for. The Brookstone Pocket Projector works in conjunction with your iPhone 4/4S (sorry, no compatibility with iPhone 5) and can project a reasonably bright image (18 Lumens) of up to 50" in diameter. Ofcourse, it is possible to get the projector to project larger images but keep in mind that the brightness and detail will degrade accordingly. The Brookstone Pocket Projector runs for about 2 hours on a single charge and can also be used to charge your iPhone 4 too. The sound on the projector is not very good but you can use the bluetooth option or the aux jack on your phone to improve the sound (we will address this down below). The Brookstone Pocket Projector will project any video source from your phone including Netflix, Youtube, etc. This becomes particularly handy if you are near a wifi source which will enable you to stream movies. If you have movies from home you can upload them prior to your trip through iTunes and into your iPhone which then can be projected through the Brookstone Pocket Projector. The Brookstone Projector as of the date of this post is going for $199 and we think this is a great price for a great product.

Brookstone HDMI Projector ($299)

It is possible to pay a bit more for the Brookstone HDMI Pocket Projector ($299) and have the ability to use the projector with any HDMI device (iPhone users will need an additional cable adapter). The Brookstone HDMI projector will offer more power (85 lumens), a slightly longer battery life and the improved compatibility with more devices.

We like both products as both are very portable and offer outstanding picture quality given their diminutive size.

Da-Lite Pico Screen
The next step we needed to solve was finding a suitable screen on which to project the movie on. All of the outdoor screens that we researched in the past were bulky and too expensive. Some screens were difficult to set up while others just simply were not portable enough for plane travel.

With the emergence of pico projectors companies started getting wise and making pico screens to compliment the diminutive projectors. Two companies that offer great-quality screens were Da-Lite & Epson. Da-Lite offers a pico line of projection screens and we found the most affordable to be the 30" diagonal screen. Epson offers a slightly larger pico screen with a 50" diagonal which they claim is still small enough to fit onboard a plane in the overhead bins. Both fit very nicely on a tabletop and collapse very easily (shown below on the Epson ES1000). At the time of this post the Epson ES1000 was selling for about $70 and the Da-Lite Pico 30" screen was selling for about $68.

Epson ES1000 screen
While both screens offer an excellent choice in quality and portability it is also possible to simply project your images/movies off the side of a house, on a white wall, on the ceiling or on a white sheet. Sure, you might lose brightness and color quality but doing away with the portable pico screen makes the whole movie package more portable, versatile and affordable.


The next step we needed to solve was to find a sound source that would provide enough sound to make the movie experience come to life. None of the pico projectors we've tried or read reviews about output enough sound to make movie watching satisfying.

There are two ways we can recommend to amplify the sound of your pico projector that will make your outside movie watching experience satisfying and memorable.

Big Jambox by Jawbone ($199)

The first way is to use the bluetooth in your phone to output the sound to a bluetooth enabled speaker instead of through the pico projector itself. Simply connect your phone via bluetooth to the bluetooth enabled speaker and you have instant sound improvement. The second way to amplify the sound of your projector is by directly connecting the projector (or phone) to external speakers via the aux in jack (you will need a 3.5mm aux cable to do this).

We recommend two brands of bluetooth speakers that will provide excellent sound outside for your movies. The Big Jambox by Jawbone and the Bose Soundlink by Bose. Both of these bluetooth enabled speakers offer incredible sound and are perfect companions for your pico projector. Both offer long hours of use from their internal rechargeable batteries. We believe that the Big Jambox is a better value as it offers comparable sound to the Bose Soundlink but at a lower price.

Bose Soundlink ($299)

So, in conclusion, we hope we showed that there is a relatively affordable way to put together a portable movie kit that can be enjoyed outside while traveling abroad, camping or just hanging out in your backyard. Movie nights outside are always memorable for the kids and we like to think that there are plenty of adults who can still enjoy it too.

Please feel free to let us know below in the comments section what ideas you might have for making your travel with the kids more enjoyable and memorable.

Sustenance: Food Traditions in Italy's Heartland

Sustenance: Food Traditions in Italy's Heartland
By Elizabeth Wholey


"A Guide to Farms, Markets, and Fairs in the Upper Tiber Valley. In Sustenance, Elizabeth Wholey explores the Upper Tiber Valley and the ways in which its peasants fed and sustained themselves throughout history. Their ancient food traditions are still alive today, often with a modern twist, and are accessible to visitors as well as to the local populace.

Highlighting sixteen farmers and food producers who share their stories and treasured recipes, Wholey guides your way to the farms, markets and fairs where these traditional products are sold. Fifteen towns near the Tiber River--from its source on Monte Fumaiolo to Umbertide--are introduced, along with their yearly celebrations, markets and fairs, as well as important sites and monuments.

This book is a must for the tourist who seeks a fuller experience than the usual by delving into the history, agriculture, and culinary practices of this beautiful and fertile valley."


Our Thoughts:
One of our most treasured pleasures when visiting the cities and towns in the Upper Tiber Valley is sampling the delicious foods and dishes offered by the various family run restaurants, agriturismi and local markets.

Elizabeth Wholey's book has given us new and invaluable insight into the history, agriculture and culinary practices behind some of the foods that we have eaten in the Upper Tiber Valley and has further fueled our desire to sample and explore new foods during future visits.

We also have gained a more intimate picture of both the cultural and family traditions that are so inextricably linked to the recipes, foods and dishes that are prepared for and served to visitors and locals alike. 

This is a must read for all culinary enthusiasts and anyone traveling to Central Italy!

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