Valentine’s Day is a little more special in Umbria than in other Italian regions as the third-century bishop was from the nearby city of Terni. Saint Valentine supposedly married a Christian woman and a pagan man and got the normal Roman thanks for his act: his head was lopped off, followed by sainthood.
The Umbra Institute decided that for yesterday’s Tandem language exchange meeting, the saint’s memory would be honored in a particularly appropriate way: lots of Nutella. Italians turn up their noses at American desserts – brownies, fudge, andcaramel-covered apples – but drown their sorrows and celebrate their victories in jars full of the hazelnut-chocolate spread. It’s the strange student apartment that doesn’t have a collection of empty jars with “nutella” written on the side.
In any event, the Tandem meeting, with its near-record crowd, was a huge success, commented Umbra staff member and Tandem coordinator Mauro Renna. Chocolate seemed to inspire particularly fruitful exchanges about desserts and junk food, among others. Hats off to Saint Valentine!