Virtual Experiences

Italy, Italians, festivals and folklore, rural life and cuisine, art and history fuse together in my passione for all things Italian.

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:

Join me on December 4th for my next Virtual Experience.

You’ll soon know more about the Italian treasure we’ll be talking about.

To join my ZOOM presentation click here

I will welcome all at 7.45 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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Suggestion: use the ZOOM desktop app for Windows, Mac OS or Linux for the best experience.
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All my ZOOM presentations are recorded and uploaded to my YouTube channel

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All virtual experiences in Italy:


More to Discover in ‘The World’s Most Livable Town,’ TodiNovember 13th, 2021

In my recent Todi talk, we joined with exhuberant locals in celebrating their patron saint and explored the wonders of medieval and Renaissance architecture.

On returning to Todi, we’ll discover contemporary as well as medieval art treasures.

World-famous artists have been attracted to this “most livable city” and we’ll discover the work of an esteemed American sculptor in a Todi park dedicated to her.

Then, after uncovering subterranean curiosities in the 13th-century cathedral, we’ll head to the astounding Casa Dipinta (Painted House), for years the “on-going” project of the Irish art critic, writer and artist living there with his American wife, a noted art historian and author.

Many blog notes on Todi enhance my presentation.


Discovering 'The World's Most Livable Town,’ TodiDiscovering ‘The World’s Most Livable Town,’ Todi – October 30th, 2021

Let’s head together to Todi, “the world’s most livable city.”

Perched on a double-crested hill overlooking the Tiber River, Umbrian hill town Todi commands splendid views in every direction. Overlooking the valley below, a magnificent Renaissance church seems to be a stalwart guard near entrance to Todi.

Built on site of Roman edifices, stately medieval civic palazzi encircling the main square make this one of Umbria’s most charming piazzas.
And what intriguing and even bizarre sculptures adorn a medieval church dedicated to Todi’s patron saint, San Fortunato.

The October feast of San Fortunato unites all of the tuderti in a week-long celebration of grandissima passione.
From five regions of Italy, hundreds join in the archery and falconry contests and displays of medieval banner-waving.

Join me as we explore Todi’s architectural splendors and share in the exhuberant celebration of the locals.

Many blog notes on Todi enhance my presentation.


Montefalco zoom videoMontefalco, the ‘Balcony of Umbria’: Celebrating Fine Wines, Textiles, and Renaissance Majesty – October 9th, 2021

After viewing this video, you’ll understand why recent tour guests, Ann and Fred, wrote to me, “ Annie, thanks so much for we had no idea there was so much to discover in Montefalco!”
Rightly called “the balcony of Umbria”, more than splendid views of valleys and vineyard-draped hills entice Montefalco visitors.

Together, we’ll visit the town’s late September wine festival and wander backstreets where shops display the famous loom-woven linen textiles, many designs highlighting grapes and vines. We’ll meet local artisans and learn about the splendid Renaissance fresco cycle in a medieval church.

We’ll share local culinary specialties in a “five-star” restaurant housed in an 18th-century carriage house adjoining a noble palazzo.

There’s so much to share in Montefalco that a second presentation is coming up!


A Jewish Ghetto at the Heart of a Tuscan Medieval Gem – September 18th, 2021
Let’s head to the tip of southwestern Tuscany, to Pitigliano in the Maremma area, perched on a volcanic rock plateau.
Meandering together the medieval alleyways, you’ll know that this is the kind of town where you hope to get lost. Inhabited in prehistory, the Etruscans, too, settled on this easily-defended tufaceous rock outcrop and then the Romans and the Lombards. In the Middle Ages, the Orsini counts took power.

We’ll tour their imposing palace flanked by the grandiose aqueduct, of the Medici Grand Dukes.

The highlight of our Pitigliano explorations?

The oldest Jewish quarter in Tuscany, chosen refuge for many Jews after a Papal decree in the 16th-century exiled them from the Papal States.

Many escaped to Pitigliano, enjoying more rights in culture, politics and economics than almost anywhere else in central Italy. By the end of the 19th-century, Pitigliano was affectionately called “Little Jerusalem.”Pitigliano’s Jewish heritage is preserved thanks to la Piccola Gerusalemme, an association bringing alive the town’s 17th-century Jewish ghetto. We’ll visit here the synagogue, the Museo Ebraico and the kosher bread oven, wine cellar and slaughterhouse.

We’’ll end our tour with a taste of a local culinary specialty, a sweet called “sfratti,” meaning “eviction”
…..and why is the local sweet called “an eviction”?
Join my talk to find out why.


A Spoleto Encore: Those Sites You Can’t Miss – September 4th, 2021
On September 4th, we headed once again to bellissima Spoleto, to view UNESCO World Heritage sites – and not only.
We visited the cimitero monumentale di Spoleto to see the architectural wonders, Lombard architectural splendor towering over it: the 4th-5th-century Basilica di San Salvatore, UNESCO World Heritage site.
We took in more World Heritage Lombard sculptural majesty at the 4th-5th-century A.D. Tempietto di Clitunno near the Fonti del Clitunno (Clitunno springs), those waters sacred to the Romans.
Roman Spoletium vaunted many a sumptuous and impressive edifice, including the 2nd-c. B.C. teatro romano. And what Roman treasures in the adjacent museum. Skilled craftsmen recycled Roman remnants to create the splendid crypts of Romanesque churches we’ll explore.
From the Romans to the Lombards to the early Middle Ages: sites you simply can’t miss take the stage in the bellissima Umbrian hill town, Spoleto.

And many blog notes on Spoleto enrich that talk.


SpoletoA Summer Tour of Spoleto – July 31st, 2021
On July 31st, 2021 my final summer virtual tour highlighted that sublime city of festivals, Spoleto. Since 1958, Giancarlo Menotti’s late June/early July Spoleto Festival has filled Spoleto’s piazzas and historic buildings with music and theatrical presentations.

We’ll visit Spoleto’s magnificent medieval Duomo (cathedral), often a stunning backdrop for concerts. Nearby, we’ll tour a 1st c.-A.D. Roman house with mosaic floors. The 14th-century frescoed Papal fortress towering over Spoleto now houses the fascinating Museo del Ducato, a stop on our tour.
Below the fortress, the 13th-century fortified bridge stretches out towards Monteluco, once a sacred wood for the Romans.
And one of the most stunning Romanesque splendors in all of Umbria rises on the slope below the woods: the 12th-century Church of San Pietro.

My gran finale summer presentation concluded on a sublime note.

And many blog notes on Spoleto enrich that talk.


Undiscovered Latium: Medieval Majesty with Humorous Quirks – July 17th, 2021

Let’s visit a trio of “off-the-beaten track” medieval showpieces in northern Latium, in Tuscia.
In splendid Romanesque churches, capitals might be topped with humorous anthropomorphic figures which delighted 13th-century pilgrims trekking the nearby pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena.

Some frescoes we’ll view inspired, others terrified and some even brought chuckles (and still do!).

In a small lakeside village, we’ll visit a venerated miraculous 15th-century Madonna image, protagonist one of central Italy’s most fascinating festivals.

This town has also always been famous for its eels which caused acute indigestion – and death – for a gluttonous 13th-century Pope. In another town, over-indulgence in tempting wine led to the demise of a traveling prelate.
The prelate’s tomb spreads out in one of Latium’s most splendid medieval churches, built on two levels where the sculpted columns bring a grin. The frescoes on the walls recounted stories for the pilgrims.

Let me share those stories with you. And much more


Touring Assisi, Part III: Subterranean Marvels, Roman to the RenaissanceTouring Assisi, Part III: Subterranean Marvels, Roman to the Renaissance – June 26th, 2021

You can now take in the Assisi wonders with me “live.”
See you here soon? In the meantime, enjoy this Visual Experience, concluding our three-part tour of Assisi. We’ll explore below ground – but not only – as we discover 1st-century A.D. Roman marble floors and frescoes reminiscent of a Pompeii villa in the crypt of an 11th-century church. In another Roman domus (urban dwelling), we’ll view mosaic floors and frescoed walls under restoration now.
In the Museo del Foro Romano, prized Roman artifacts include sculpted tombs, imposing statues, funerary urns and Roman “street food” kiosks. As we head from one site to another, we’ll take note of Roman and pre-Roman remnants on doorsteps, tucked under windows, mounted on walls. And near the area of the 1st-century A.D. Roman amphitheater and Roman circus, we’ll be invited into two private homes with Roman walls and ceilings – and treasured artifacts. The marvels of Assisi are multitudinous. And sometimes, right before your eyes. And easy to miss.


Heading to Bolsena, Medieval Lakeside Town of Mysteries – June 12th, 2021

Lakeside medieval Bolsena is the “town of mysteries.” Bolsena’s misteri – scenes of the 4th-century martyrdom of the town’s young patron saint, Santa Cristina – are acted out with impassioned participation by the local bolsenesi in a July festival.

Bolsena’s medieval feudal castle, the 11th-century Basilica di Santa Cristina, and a 16th-century noble palazzo become backdrops for the drama – all sites we’ll explore in our Bolsena tour. Inside the imposing castle overlooking the lake, we’ll learn about bronze-age, Etruscan and Roman artifacts in the Museo now housed there.

Bolsena is linked to another “mystery”: the 13th-century Miracle of Bolsena which inspired the Feast of Corpus Domini. To celebrate the Festa di Corpus Domini, the bolsenesi of all ages unite to carpet the town with stunning floral tapestries, the Infiorate.

And we simply can’t leave Bolsena without seeing – and hearing! – the town’s singing lavandaie (washerwomen), joining in gleeful harmony as they scrub their wash at the local lavatoio (communal wash basin).


Touring Assisi – Part 2: Artists and Artisans, Past and PresentMay 29th, 2021

Get ready to return to Italy! Meet talented local artisans inspired by medieval and Renaissance masterpieces.

We’ll visit the 19th-century bookshop displaying hand-bound books and artisanal notepaper reproducing whimsical designs of nearby frescoes and from the medieval manuscripts of Assisi. An Assisi wood sculptor will show us his creations inspired by the stunning carved doors and inlaid choir stalls of the 13th-century of Basilica di San Francesco.

Whether taught by Franciscan nuns or by mothers and grandmothers, the Assisi embroidery has impassioned young girls – and boys too! – for nearly three centuries. We’ll view the work of proud 82-yr-old Signor Vittorio and the splendors of fifty years work by Antonietta, who “can’t imagine a day without a needle in my hand.”

Luca, on the other hand, can’t imagine a day without strumming one of the lutes he makes, many of them inspired by medieval frescoes and Renaissance wood inlays.

Don’t miss a visit with Assisi artisans: their skills will simply astound.



Deruta’s Ceramics: a Living Renaissance Art FormMay 8th, 2021

Deruta showcases Italian art, culture and history in its winding backstreets, medieval churches and prized ceramics. Since the Middle Ages, this Umbria medieval hill town near the Tiber River has been a major production center of glazed ceramics, maiolica. Deruta is a veritable hymn to maiolica. In Italy’s first ceramics museum, the late 19th-century Museo Regionale della Ceramica, over 5000 artisan masterpieces of the past four centuries incorporate landmark historical events and images inspired by Italy’s greatest Renaissance painters.

The 14th-century civic palace and the medieval churches in the town (and in the surrounding countryside) house fresco splendor and maiolica gems. Even Deruta’s beloved August festival, il Palio delle Brocche (“Contest of the Pitchers”), celebrates maiolica.

We’ll end our explorations in the Deruta countryside with a stop at a countryside shrine housing hundreds of whimsical maiolica folk-art treasures spanning four centuries. A bittersweet visit: we’ll note the voids on the chapel wall left by 200 maiolica plaques stolen in 1980.

We’ll end our tour with a surprise: not far away at a locked-up roadside chapel, an elderly key-holder will open the door to the 15th-century fresco splendor inside. Deruta, a treasure trove – as you’ll see.


Touring Assisi - Part 1: Outside the Medieval WallsTouring Assisi – Part 1: Outside the Medieval WallsApril 24th, 2021

We’ll head up into the woods of Mount Subasio to visit St. Francis’ place of retreat in the early 13th-century. We’ll pause at Roman ruins as we move on to a Franciscan monastery with 8th-century origins, once a haven for St. Clare and her community. A detour takes us to the massive 14th-c Papal fortress towering over Assisi. In the valley below, we’ll move into modern history as we pay tribute to over 900 very young soldiers buried in the Commonwealth’s Assisi War Cemetery. Not far away, the “church within a church” holds surprises.

Our wanders will take us over a medieval bridge spanning a Tiber River tributary to seek out a contemporary land sculpture in the Woods of St. Francis, now a protected site. We’ll learn about ancient mills along the river for the grinding of wheat and olives and discover medieval kilns. Our Assisi countryside wanders end with a surprise in a tiny mountain church tucked away in the olive groves.


Discovering the Center of Italy: NarniApril 10th, 2021

Join me in medieval gem, Narni, geographic center of peninsular Italy, as we explore Roman aqueducts, a Papal fortress, a fascinating 12th-century cathedral and share in the passione of the locals for their medieval May festival.
Learn about 200 years of Inquisition travesties – hidden away, underground. Meet the person who made the recent discovery as he shares with us his 27 years of research on the Narni Underground.

Ah, Narni, the town of hidden secrets.



Umbria’s Easter Traditions Come Alive – March 20th, 2021

Umbria’s Settimana Santa (Holy Week) preceding Easter comes vividly alive with memorable religious, historical, and artistic events including evocative sacre rappresentazioni, veritable street theater bringing the liturgy to life. We’ll join the processions following hooded barefoot penitents bearing heavy crosses as 13th-century lauds are chanted  in torchlit medieval backstreets. The stunning medieval settings – of gems such as Gubbio, Assisi, Bevagna, tiny Montone – add drama and emotional impact. Easter time in Umbria is highlighted with culinary specialties: blessed ones. On Holy Saturday, we’ll unite with the local farm women for the blessings of their Easter abundance.

Live Easter in Umbria with me. And taste it, too.



gubbio palazzo dei consoliDiscovering Gubbio, Italy’s “City of Madmen” – March 6th, 2021

Discover Gubbio with me, baptized by the Italians as “la citta dei matti” – and find out if they are truly “mad.”
After a stop at Gubbio’s 1st-c. B.C. Roman theater, we’ll stop at the Mausoleum of the 40 Martyrs, tied to World War II history.
We’ll explore medieval churches, visit an artisan friend of great skill and learn about Gubbio’s beloved patron saint.
We’ll learn how Gubbio’s festival celebrating their saint links to the fascinating pre-Roman religious rituals inscribed on ancient bronze tablets: an archaeological treasure of Italy conserved in the stunning 14th-century city hall. Feel the emotion as we join the bell-ringers in the civic palace bell tower for the manual tolling – announcing the start of a race you’ll never forget.


Bevagna: Where Roman, Medieval and Post-Renaissance Treasures Hide – February 20th, 2021

Many of medieval Bevagna’s treasures are tucked away in the winding buttressed backstreets and up flights of stairs behind locked doors. Join me as we uncover the wonders of this Umbria gem:  the Roman mosaics, the corridors of a 1st-c. A.D. Roman theater, a 13th-century merchant’s home, an elegant tiny frescoed theater (one of the smallest in Italy) and the crypts of medieval churches braced with robust Roman columns.
Together we’ll share in the passione of the bevanati as they bring alive medieval daily life with astounding accuracy in their beloved festival, the Mercato delle Gaite.

As in each of my tours, we’ll meet unforgettable “locals”: an elderly tailor, an esteemed artist, a pasta-making mother-daughter duo and medieval historians.  And we can’t leave Bevagna without a taste of local goodness: warmly offered by Marco and Rosita at their famed norcineria.


Assisi Clandestina, Holocaust Salvation in the Town of St. Francis – February 6th, 2021

In 1943-1944, the town of St. Francis, Assisi, sheltered hundreds of Jewish refugees. Visit with me the frescoed convents and sites sacred to St. Francis where the refugees were hidden. All were saved thanks to the united efforts of the bishop, a local priest, two printers, Franciscans, cloistered Poor Clare nuns – and a world-famous Tuscan cyclist.

Meet each of these heroes – and a grateful survivor as well – as you join me for the fascinating story of Assisi Clandestina.


Perugia paintingPerugia’s Secrets Revealed: From Etruscan and Medieval Wonders to Festive Celebrations – January 23rd, 2021

Ever tasted the torcolo? Care to view the treasures of one of the world’s oldest libraries? Curious about the significance of the griffin?
Find out while touring with me Perugia, medieval gem I came to love as a student there years ago.
Perugia’s Etruscan glory lives on in the imposing Etruscan city gate of the 3rd-c. B.C., hidden away in the massive 16th-c “underground” Papal fortress. This leap across the ages synthesizes Perugia, a stunning hilltown of “layers.”

We’ll bridge the centuries while discovering the wonders: a frescoed Renaissance guildhall, a 14th-c. masterpiece of wood-inlay, medieval illuminated manuscripts, that 13th-c sculptural splendor, the Great Fountain: just to name a few.
And as on all my “virtual tours,” you’ll meet the people. We’ll share in the local passione for two of their wondrous festivals.
We’ll taste that perugino gusto for life’s simple pleasures: like Signor Umberto’s pride in his cioccolato caldo.

(Thanks to my brother Tom Robichaud for use of his painting “Perugia”).


Touring Norcia, Cascia and Valnerina OxenTouring 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.


Assisi NataleItaly’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.


Virtual Experiences in Italy Orvieto DuomoLiving the Many Splendors of OrvietoDecember 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.



Virtual Experiences in Italy SpelloTouring Spello, Umbria Medieval GemNovember 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!



Virtual Experiences in Italy Olive OilUmbria’s Liquid Gold: Olive Oil – 2nd partNovember 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.



Virtual Experiences in Italy UmbriaUmbria’s Liquid Gold: Olive Oil – 1st partOctober 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.




Virtual Experiences in Italy Wine traditionItaly’s Wine Mystique in History and ArtOctober 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.


Virtual Experiences in Italy Calendimaggio AssisiAssisi’s Calendimaggio: From Roman Rituals to Medieval SplendorSeptember 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.


Virtual Experiences in Italy Street ArtAssisi’s Medieval Street Art: From the Sacred to the GrotesqueSeptember 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.


Virtual Experiences in Italy Lampedusa

Italy’s Islands of RefugeAugust 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?



Virtual Experiences in Italy PalermoSicily’s Age-old Culinary MosaicAugust 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


Virtual Experiences in Italy Assisi BasilicaAssisi’s Basilica of St. Francis: From Destruction to GloryAugust 4th, 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 TableJuly 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.



Virtual Experiences in Italy RitesItaly’s Uplifting Pagan-Christian RitesJuly 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.



Virtual Experiences in Italy Floral PassionItalians, HANDS ON: An Explosion of Floral PassionJuly 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.



Virtual Experiences in Italy Rural LifeRural Life RevisitedJune 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.



Virtual Experiences in Italy ItaliansItalians, HANDS ON: From the Family to the PiazzaJune 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.


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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 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.”

Robert B.
Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Director, Michael Britton Observatory
Dickinson College
Carlisle, PA


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.
Mille grazie.”

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.

Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)