When I’m not able to share this enthusiasm through my guided Umbrian hilltown tours, this passione heads online in my Virtual Experiences.
Click here for enthusiastic comments of participants in these online Italy insights.
These are free insights into all things Italian but your generous donations allow me to fully dedicate time and energy towards this exciting new project. Mille grazie!
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Upcoming virtual experiences in Italy:
To join my ZOOM presentation click here
I will welcome all at 7 40 p.m. for those wishing to say “ciao” and so that you can see that your ZOOM settings are ready to go. We’ll mute microphones at 8 pm and I’ll start my hour-long presentation, taking questions at the end.
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All my ZOOM presentations are recorded and uploaded to my YouTube channel
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Touring Norcia, Cascia and Valnerina: “Lost Beans,” Black Truffles and Curiosities – January 9th, 2021
Let’s launch the New Year with a visit to Umbria’s captivating Valnerina (Nera River Valley) area. We’ll bring in 2021 with the toe-tapping, inviting January festivities of Cascia.
Not far from Cascia, we’ll also tour another Umbrian medieval mountain-town gem, Norcia, birthplace of St. Benedict in the 5th-c. and famous for black truffles, pecorino cheeses and the lentils cultivated on the nearby Piano Grande. That “Great Plain” – (at over 4500 ft.) – spreads out below medieval castle-village Castelluccio, devastated in the October 2016 earthquake. And perhaps you’ve never heard of Preci, famous for centuries for its prosciutti and…a curiosity? Or the story of the discovery of the “lost beans” of the Nera River Valley? Know what a norcineria offers?
My first talk in 2021 will give you the answers and have you ready for your next trip to our bellissima Umbria.
Italy’s Christmas Artistic, Culinary, and Folklore Traditions – December 19th, 2020
This holiday presentation celebrates Italy’s wintertime traditions: Naples’ Christmas craftsmanship, Umbria’s “living manger scenes,” Gubbio’s world-famous Christmas majesty and Assisi’s luminous projection of frescoes. Virtually savor the season’s celebratory culinary highlights, linking Italy north to south.
From Gubbio to Greccio, from bonfires to good witches and hunchbacks, join in the joyful holiday spirit.
Living the Many Splendors of Orvieto – December 5th, 2020
Come tour with me in Orvieto, gem of a medieval hilltown of Etruscan origin perched on a tufo rock plateau.
In the stunning Orvieto Cathedral, find out why the Pieta’ there is my favorite – and discover quirky symbolisms in the splendid early16th-c. fresco cycle.
Learn about medieval palaces, underground splendors and fascinating fortification architecture.
Meet local artisans as we wander the backstreets and live vicariously with me the Orvieto festival we’d never miss.
And before leaving Orvieto, you’ll know where to eat the best in local goodness on your next trip there.
Touring Spello, Umbria Medieval Gem – November 21st, 2020
Join me for a virtual tour of Umbrian medieval hilltop gem, Spello, discovering its “hidden secrets.” Share in the spellano enthusiasm in 2018 at first viewing of the stunning restored mosaics of a villa of Roman Hispellum. Discover with me the Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces in the town’s medieval churches. Learn about the heist of a Renaissance Madonna some years ago and her return home. View the mastery of artisan, Pino, who worked with his crew to restore a 15th-c. fortified tower overlooking Spello.
Experience, too, the creativity of the local spellani including Fra’ Paolo, a beloved Franciscan friar. Ah, Spello che bello!
Umbria’s Liquid Gold: Olive Oil – 2nd part – November 7th, 2020
In the second and final part of our olive oil adventure, join me for a virtual visit to our olive groves for the harvest, then on to the mill for the pressing. We’ll celebrate Umbria’s “green gold” at local festivals and end our olive oil explorations with easy-to-replicate recipes highlighting olio di oliva. Extra-vergine, of course!
A symbol of peace, wisdom, prosperity, fertility, and victory, the olive tree has been praised, sung, and immortalized in the art and mythology of the Mediterranean world, while defining its landscape.
Umbria’s Liquid Gold: Olive Oil – 1st part – October 31st, 2020
In this first of our two-part Virtual Experience on Italy’s prized olive oil, we will explore – through art, history, mythology and folklore – the ancient origins of olives, the olive tree and the subsequent diffusion of olive cultivation throughout the Mediterranean world.
Italy’s Wine Mystique in History and Art – October 17th, 2020
Since ancient times, the wine mystique has captured the imagination and creative thinking of philosophers, artists, and poets as well as those centering their knowledge on healing. The allure of wine threads the history and art of Italy from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to the present day. Learn how grapes and wine have enriched Italy’s cultural history, folklore, and artistic images.
Join me at the Umbria festivals where vino is celebrated with that inimitable Italian passione. Enjoy a “virtual taste” of il vino di Pino.
Assisi’s Calendimaggio: From Roman Rituals to Medieval Splendor – September 26th, 2020
Since time immemorial, man has heralded the return of spring with joyous rituals and festivity. Assisi’s glorious early May Calendimaggio festival is a magnificent re-evocation of the medieval celebration of Nature’s rebirth and the renewal of the life cycle. Madonna Primavera (“Lady Spring”) reigns over four euphoric days of music, dance, medieval banner-waving, competition, theatrical presentations and splendid pageantry.
Learn how the Calendimaggio splendor is a delicate refinement of the Romans’ raucous, orgiastic May celebrations of their goddesses Flora, Bona Dea and Maia.
Share in the exhuberant joy of the assisani for their beloved festa.
Assisi’s Medieval Street Art: From the Sacred to the Grotesque – September 12th, 2020
Discover with me an array of frescoes and popular shrines which have adorned the walls, homes, ancient guildhalls and city gates of Assisi since the Middle Ages. For centuries, these exquisite devotional images accompanied pilgrims visiting Assisi’s many venerated sites.
My presentation will take you from the sacred to the profane as we view the beauty in “grotto-esque” masterpieces, learning about the restoration of these Assisi fresco treasures.
Italy’s Islands of Refuge – August 29th, 2020
Explore with me some lesser-known islands of Italy, tiny gems offering “refuge” from life’s daily routine. One of them, Lampedusa, has also become a place of refuge for migrants crossing from the North African coast, fleeing poverty and conflicts in their own countries.
Ustica, once a volcano, rises out of an aquamarine sea and the variegated colors of the waters blend with the color array in the murals of the island houses.The Fascists banished political enemies here to this isola di confine. Today, Ustica is chosen as “self-confinement” for those seeking maritime beauty and tranquillity.
Ventotene, too, is a favorite retreat for idyllic “self-confinement” or “refuge” passed slowly with swims in the pristine sea, seafood goodness at delightful eating spots and evening guided walks to fascinating ancient Roman sites. What more is needed?
Sicily’s Age-old Culinary Mosaic – August 15th, 2020
Sicily is a colorful mosaic of Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, Spanish and French history, folkore, art, architecture – and culinary delights. The aromas and flavors of the culinary traditions of Sicily’s richly varied ethnic origins make this an island to be discovered – and savored. And Sicily’s street food is the tastiest imaginable. In 2015, Forbes declared Sicily’s capital Palermo, “the European capital of street food.” And what street food….!
Virtually “taste” with me Sicily’s mouth-watering temptations as you learn about the fascinating multidimensional origins of Sicily’s age-old street-food goodness
Assisi’s Basilica of St. Francis: From Destruction to Glory – July 25th, 2020
Explore with me Assisi’s glorious 13th-c Basilica di San Francesco as I offer you an inside-look at the painstaking restoration of two frescoed vault quadrants which smithereened to the floor in the 1997 earthquake. The fresco restoration project of the Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi might arguably be termed the greatest restoration project ever undertaken in Western European fresco art. By some sort of miracolo, I was allowed up on the vault sixty feet above the Upper Basilica floor to view the final days of this five-year project centered on the re-piecing of 80,000 13th-c fresco pieces. The event of a lifetime. Let me show you why.
Italy’s Mediterranean Diet: From Art to the Table – July 25th, 2020
Lauded as UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Intangible and celebrated in 6th-c B.C. Etruscan frescoes, Pompeii mosaics and Renaissance masterpieces, the Mediterranean diet is not simply a list of foods but a way of life, uniting the people of the Mediterranean basin. A moment of social exchange and intergenerational communication, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes values of hospitality and the preservation of ancient traditions.
Italy brings la dieta mediterranea to life in astounding artistic creations and glorious festivals where people of all ages and varied social classes celebrate with that quintessential Italian passione. You’ll live that passione too in this presentation.
Italy’s Uplifting Pagan-Christian Rites – July 11th, 2020
Italy’s UNESCO Cultural Intangible Heritage turns vividly tangible in my talk, “Italy’s Uplifting Pagan-Christian Rites.” From north to south, the festivities of Italy’s intangible heritage embody centuries-old rites, all profoundly tied to the land and interweaving religious traditions and pagan roots. In this talk, you’ll find out why Italy’s astounding UNESCO Cultural Intangible Heritage festivals are “uplifting” quite literally as well as figuratively.
Italians, HANDS ON: An Explosion of Floral Passion – July 4th, 2020
On your next trip to Italy, everything will be “coming up roses”; that is, if you center your travels around one or more of central Italy’s glorious floral festivities. In my talk, “Italians, HANDS ON: An Explosion of Floral Passion,” you’ll explore with me floral festivities and ancient traditions of Umbria and Abruzzo. I know you’ll marvel at that extraordinary Italian creativity and passione as all the townspeople unite to create floral masterpieces.
Rural Life Revisited – June 27th, 2020
This presentation centers on our life on the land in Umbria in the late 1970’s and is a tribute to our rural friends who taught us far more than how to raise ducks, geese, guinea fowl, rabbits and sheep, how to transform a pig into prosciutto, how to shear our sheep, prune our olive trees and turn our grapes into wine.
They taught us about life. Our rural friends are givers of the greatest gift.
You’ll know how they have enriched our lives when you meet them in this talk.
Italians, HANDS ON: From the Family to the Piazza – June 13th, 2020
The Coliseum and Forum in Rome, Venice’s Piazza San Marco, Florence’s David, Missoni, Prada, Benetton, the pasta, the pizza, espresso and gelato are not Italy’s only attractions. Another national treasure? The Italians. Hands down.
Please consider a donation – if you havent’t done so yet – to make it possible for me to continue creating these virtual experiences and share my Italian passione.
Comments on Anne’s Virtual Experiences in Italy
“My husband and I feel as though you are our friend, as I think do the other 200 people online for your talks. Thank you so much for them!! It truly allows us (former) frequent travelers to have a taste going somewhere during these bizarre times. We love them and have passed on info to others.
Again, thank you for you, your knowledge and information, your wonderful talent in communicating your life and your adopted country (we are Californians). I don’t know how all 200+ of us are going to fit into your Assisi accommodations in 2022, but we will probably all try.”
Sukey G., Los Angeles, CA
“I have not yet had the good fortune to travel to any of the islands off of Italy. This virtual tour, “Italy’s Islands of Refuge,” was my introduction to Lampedusa, Ustica and Ventotene. I had read once of an island where certain Roman emperors’ exiled problematic women in their lives, but now I know much more about Ventotene – which, ironically, sounds like today it is a slice of heaven for those who love books and reading. Hearing about the migrants on Lampedusa was a reminder of how international policy and politics can impact even the smallest places. This virtual tour was a really fun hour, filled with so much information and beautiful photography. I especially appreciated how thoughtful Anne is in describing the many locals she has come to know; and seeing the blue waters of the Mediterranean made my heart sing.”
Tricia S (biotechnology attorney, San Francisco Bay area)
“Diane and I have had the good fortune to be “on tour” once again with Anne even with this Covid Crisis interfering with face-to-face contact. The series of Virtual Tours Anne has recently developed and presented live over the internet made us feel that we were right by her side as we viewed so many wonderful sights. The photography Anne has presented during her talks has been captivating and very visually expressive complimenting the marvelous details and nuances she provides verbally. Having the familiarity of her voice in our ears rather than just written words to go along with the pictures brings this touring experience on par with being there live. The question and answer segment at the end of each tour has been fascinating to hear and participate in. Thanks, Anne for another great experience about our beloved old country.”
John and Diane Perides, Medford, NJ
“I stumbled upon Annesitaly.com website while searching for travel information.
The presentations on the site are entertaining, educational and expressed with such enthusiasm.
Anne describes experiences so vividly that even a viewer who has never traveled to Europe receives quite a complete picture as to what it is like to live in a country among people who deeply honor their traditions and possess such passion for life.
Each time I watch one of Anne’s presentations, I re-live my own memories of visits to the Bel Paese.
I appreciate her stories all the more now during these unprecedented times when travel to Europe is not possible,
Grazie, Anne. I’m so glad I found you!”
Karen G., Arlington, VA
“I have enjoyed several of Anne’s “Zoom” presentations. The subject matter is always thoroughly researched and presented in a coherent, knowledgeable and humorous manner. I particularly enjoyed the presentation on Italian hand gestures and their meaning. I have Italian ancestry, and after viewing the lecture, I immediately called one of my cousins to discuss the content, and we laughed hysterically about our memories of these long-forgotten gestures used by many family members. I also particularly enjoyed the most recent lecture on the restoration of the St Francis basilica frescoes (by Giotto and Cimabue) after the 1997 earthquake. My husband and I had visited the Basilica about a year before the earthquake, and had wonderful memories of the frescoes, so the description and photos of the painstaking efforts to restore them was fascinating and illuminating. When we can safely travel again, i look forward to contacting Anne for her wonderful tours.”
Karen K.,, Los Angeles, CA
Whether you are with Anne Robichaud in person or connecting with her via ZOOM or YouTube, you are in for a wonderful experience. In person is always best. Since travel to Italy from the USA is near-impossible this year, Anne has found ways to help us experience her deep knowledge of all things Umbria and its environs while regaling us with personal tales of culinary and cultural adventures.
Her ZOOM talks are excellent and feed my craving for travel. May we all find a way to explore Assisi and its sister cities in the year ahead! So open your computer or tablet, find her YouTube channel or her recorded talks via her website, and enjoy!
Catherine F., Berkeley, CA
“One thing that hits me is the width of your view of Italy. When you were taking our choir around Umbria I was very impressed with your knowledge of art and lore and food, and it was a delight to be taken into various shops— even if you always asked us to sing for owners :).
But in your presentations, both the one last weekend on country life the the one on hand gestures the previous Saturday, what is amazing is your deep understanding of a wide range of culture.
And I mean culture not in the ordinary everyday meaning of the word, though you certainly are well versed in that, but also in the technical meaning given to the word by my colleagues over in our Department of Anthropology.
It’s not just the elements, its the interconnections of the elements. I was impressed when we toured with you a decade ago, and I continue to be impressed.”
Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Director, Michael Britton Observatory
“When you can’t be on location in Italy, you can be there virtually with Anne! Her lectures are chock full of information, personality, and local lore. Having traveled with Anne (back when Americans were allowed in the country!) I can attest to how amazing she is as a tour guide. But these virtual lectures showcase her talents, deep knowledge and enthusiasm about her adopted country just as well. Anne is a treasure. When you can, join one of her Umbrian tours. For now, join her on Zoom for a unique Italian experience.”
Linda J., Salem, MA
“I have participated in two of Anne’s talks so far and can’t wait for the next one. They take me right back to Italy, where I lived in the mid-70’s. Anne does a lot of research and really brings the topic to life with the right combination of facts and her personal experiences. She also has wonderful photos to illustrate her talk. She keeps each talk very lively and they move quickly. If you love Italy, you will love these talks.”
Helen F., North Granby, CT
Thank you for taking us back 100 years, giving us a picture of what daily life was like in rural Italy, from old photos.
Then we see Italian life in the countryside, in the 1970’s when you moved to Umbria, married, and with your husband bought a farmhouse, and had children. You raised animals, and farmed the land. Your photos with excellent explanations made the presentation just like a guided tour! Thanking you!”
Jean P., Glastonbury, CT
“I’m a farm girl at heart! Love the stories, the people, the countryside, the food of Italy in your Rural Life! So genuine. I’ve been to Assisi several times, always called back because it’s such a special place. How I love being able to return via www.annesitaly whenever I need a boost from the country. Thank you for making the video available to watch again….and again.”
Patti N., Terrace Park, OH
“Grady and I are so enjoying your zoom presentations. Your passion for Umbria and your profession shines through with every word. We are so grateful to have been able to travel with you in Umbria and feel very fortunate that you have included us in these talks and we are so hoping to be with you again in Umbria.
Judy and Grady Aronstamm, Sarasota Springs, N.Y.
“I meant to write to you, Anne, after watching “Italy’s Uplifting Pagan-Christian Rites,” which my wife and I found very interesting in the content and in the way you’re able to be so personable in your presentation. It’s almost like being there.”
Tom F., Newburgh, NY
“Anne has once again brilliantly expressed her deep love and understanding of the people and country of Italy. Her new lecture series, Hands on Italy, is full of color, personal anecdotes, history and general knowledge of the place she has called home for almost 50 years.
Her many years as a trained guide gives her a well-paced and entertaining way of imparting knowledge. You’re always ready for more – you taste the culture though all your senses!
Due to extenuating circumstances, she is using the computer for her work now, instead of her incredible American culinary/cooking tours and in-person lectures on Italian life; even though in virtual communication, you still feel you are in a one-on-one conversation with a best friend!
I would highly recommend this series and only hope that more and more people will have the pleasure of seeing Italy through Anne’s eyes. A true gem in the treasure trove of a beloved country. “
Nancy C., Silver Spring, MD
“We SO enjoyed your presentation, especially since so many of us Italophiles are missing Italy so very much……you should be America’s Ambassador to Italy
I’ve said this again and again, but you are incredibly talented, not only in writing, verbalizing, but also your photography.
We can’t wait for your next presentation.”
Deborah S, San Francisco, CA
“Anne’s talk on Italian gestures and family life was remarkable! Although I have been to Italy several times, Ilearned so much more about the culture from this effort than all my trips combined. Anne is a genius at conveying the everyday life of working Italian families . I look forward to her next talk.“
David F., Reston, VA
Great program today. Being an Italian-American with grandparents from Sicily and great grandparents from Genoa, family and food were and still are the heart of my existence. Thank you for “bringing us home” through your wonderful presentation.
I had tears in the eyes, my mouth was watering and my heart palpitating with your Hands On walk through our Italian roots.
We look forward to joining as many of your programs as possible…..(and) the word will be spread. Grazie mille!!”
Russ P., Belvedere, CA.
“I was lucky to attend Ann’s zoom presentation on Italians HANDS ON. After being stuck at home because of the pandemic, it was like taking a trip to Italy. I can’t wait for the next one.”
Frank C., Boston, MA
“Annie, I really enjoyed your talk. Made me homesick for Assisi. Such a wealth of information I gained into the use of hand language.
So glad you all are able to do a bit of what you’re so good at doing…(and) know howmuch I appreciate the work you did on the preparing and presentation of the material. Really liked all the photos. Avery personal touch that makes your talks so special.”
Dorothy N., Herrin, IL
“Although, of course, not as fabulous as doing an in person tour with the “dynamo” Annie, we thoroughly enjoyed the first of, hopefully, many of Annie’s virtual talks. She certainly brings any topic to life and makes it fun and informative
Sandi & Jerry S., Palo Alto, CA
“Anne’s first presentation on Italian hand gestures was not only informative but also delightful. Seeing Anne in her home while sitting in my home in Illinois made made me feel like we were visiting in person.
Anne’s knowledge and humor left me looking forward to many more opportunities to share with my friend.”
Bev Oliveri, Naperville, IL
“We have really enjoyed your lectures on beautiful Umbria. Your detailed pictures and explanations have allowed us to feel closer to Assisi during this challenging time.
The people and events you shared help us to plan our next trip! So much to see and do with you when we can return.”
Ann K., Cleveland, OH
“Thank all the saints of Assisi for Annie’s lectures on Italian bocconcini–tantalizing tidbits of the trips we all wish we were taking right now.
How refreshing to experience Annie’s wit and wisdom about friends and family, her enthusiasm for festivals and flowers, her encompassing knowledge of history and mythology. We have particularly enjoyed the photos of Annie and Pino throughout the years. Now instead of enduring another round of Netflix or having deep discussions about why Americans won’t wear masks , we can return to those thrilling days of Umbrian sunshine and Sagrantino wine both figuratively and hopefully nel futuro.
Grazie, bella Annie, per il tuo spirito and gentilezza durante l”inferno! We highly recommend these lectures.”
George and Michelle T., Greensburg, PA
“Your lectures have given me back a sense of what Italy is and was for me. Your passion and your storytelling ability, along with a wealth of wonderful photographs, have transported me outside the virus-imposed isolation of my home and into the near fantasy land of Italy.
I particularly appreciate the insights you have as someone living and working in the beautiful Umbrian countryside. I look forward to your next lecture, and the ones after that. Grazie!”
Cathlin F., Redding, California
Virtual Experiences in Italy
Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)