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On the Land in Umbria

Anne Robichaud

A series of essays by Anne Robichaud, a tour guide and writer living in Assisi (www.annesitaly.com), about her life in Umbria from 1970's, when she moved there as a young wife, to the present day. Anne is originally from the United States. In the 1970s she traveled to Italy after graduate school and met her Italian husband Pino. She has lived in Italy ever since. Also travel notes for Italy and recipes.

On the Land in Umbria

My Life in Umbria: Anne's biography and how she came to fall in love with Italy.

Umbria's Good Earth and Good People: Moving to a farm in Umbria in 1975 and learning to work on the land.

Viva il Papa!: The planned 2002 visit to Assisi by the Pope, with memories of his 1978 visit.

Hunting for Mushrooms (Funghi Porcini): Finding wild mushrooms in the Umbrian woods.

Harvest Time Past: Bringing in the July harvest in the 1970s.

From Pig to Prosciutto: The traditional winter pig slaughter with a recipe for Pasta alla Norcina.

Ode to "Povero" Alessandro: A local farmer Alessandro and the Festa di Sant'Anna, patron saint for pregnant women.

Rino Stalks the Truffles: Meeting a local truffle hunter, local truffle festivals.

Bread, a Sacred Part of Rural Life: Making bread in the outdoor oven, recipe for Panzanella.

Fall Grape Harvest: Meeting the neighbors, living without running water. Their first fall grape harvest (vendemmia) and fall recipes using grapes.

Olive Gathering Memoirs: Reminiscing about picking olives on the farm in Italy.

Gargano on Fire: The August 2007 fires of the Gargano peninsula.

Foligno: Umbria's celebration of Italian first courses.

Black Celery Festival: Celery is a key ingredient in many Umbrian recipes and is justly celebrated in Trevi.

La Madonna Arrives: A huge bonfire at the fortress La Rocca Maggiore on December 7th signals the arrival that night of la Madonna, bringing a gift to Assisi children.

Sweets, Saints and Cemeteries: "Sweet pasta" and some traditions surrounding All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day in Italy.

La Cucina Genuina: La cucina genuina is genuine cuisine using fresh ingredients grown regionally and transformed without sophistication of methods or implements.

Torta di Pasqua and Other Easter Blessings: Holy Week for the Umbrian farmwomen is a busy one, an exhausting one: making the torta di Pasqua ("Easter cake") or pizza pasquale, as it is often called, in the stone bread ovens is a major task.

Umbria Brings in May: We had no idea what was happening since the cantarmaggio ("singing in May") tradition has no roots in Sicily (Pino is from Palermo) and certainly not in Milwaukee, Wisconsin!

Pasta al Vero Pesto alla Genovese: Recipe for true Ligurian Pesto

The Mediterranean Diet: Highlighting UNESCO's selection of the Mediterranean diet as an intangible cultural heritage.

Santo Terremoto or Diavolo Terremoto? Saint or Devil?: Reflections on the many earthquakes that hit Italy (specifically Assisi and Emilia Romagna) and the recovery efforts that ensue.

Castelluccio: Chromatic Majesty … and Lentils: the wonderful lentils of Castelluccio along with a local recipe for lentil soup.

Sant' Antonio, Patrono degli Animali: festival of Sant' Antonio patron saint of animals and the village of Santa Maria degli Angeli near Assisi.


Slow Travel Photos: See larger versions of Anne's photos on our photo gallery.

Harvest day in the 1970s, Umbria, Italy

Harvest day in Umbria, 1976

Anne's Travel Notes

Bolsena in June: some events going on in this lakeside town along with some history behind Trattoria Picchietto a favorite local restaurant.

Bevagna's Mercato delle Gaite: Bevagna's end-of-June medieval festival the Mercato delle Gaite synthesizes the passione of the Bevignati - six-year-olds to the elderly - for the medieval history and culture of their town.

Ischia, the Island of the Universal Garden: Recipes, and some memories, from Ischia.

Palermo's Welcoming Nobility: Touring some of the privately-owned Noble Palazzi (palaces) in Palermo, Sicily.

Black Celery in October: Sagra del Sedano Nero (celery festival) in Trevi, Umbria in late October.

Summer is the Time for Sagra!: The "Primavera Sant'Enea" (Spring in Sant'Enea) sagra and what to expect at summer sagre.

Captivated by Lake Bolsena: The town of Bolsena, on Lake Bolsena in northern Lazio, near the borders of Tuscany and Umbria, has not changed much over the years.

Sicily Volcanoes: Visiting the volcanic islands of Stromboli and Lipari and a motorcycle road trip to Mt. Etna. Hotel/B&B recommendations, restaurant recommendations, and finding fresh Pecorino cheese. Recipe for Penne al Pistacchio.

Pitigliano, Medieval Wonder and Jewish Heritage: Pitigliano, a hill town in southern Tuscany near Lazio, historic Jewish Synagogue, popular local pastry, sfratti.

Buonconvento: A short trip to a nearby southern Tuscan farmhouse B&B and the beautiful fall colors of the landscape with its hills and vineyards, including visits to a 12th-century Romanesque church, small villages and quaint restaurants, and the towns of Murlo and Asciano, seeking out a local food festival recommended by the B&B hosts.

The simple elegance of Turin: From our exquisite loft apartment to the elegant caffé interiors to the regal architecture of this royal city, Turin offers exquisite architecture and art as well as historical cafes and the birthplace of milk chocolate and the evening aperitivo.

Abruzzo Strong and Gentle: My husband, Pino, now and again asks, "When can we go back to Abruzzo?" Our Roman friend, Silvana, has a tiny apartment in the medieval town of Tagliacozzo in the Abruzzo mountains. We've spent many a happy weekend there with Silvana and her husband Mauro and Silvana's invitation to meet them there last October brought an immediate "Si!" from Pino.

Le Marche - A Weekend of Wonders: Hilltop pastures, live oak and chestnut woods, and springtime-green fields of wheat lined the twisting roads we followed into the region of Le Marche.

Street Food of Palermo: Fast food? Invented by the Palermitani centuries ago. Palermo's streets have always teemed with the carts and kiosks of street vendors - the mensari - calling out their wares in Palmeritano dialect as they fry in great vats and then season the many delicacies of the cucina povera.

Road Trip to Cilento: South of Salerno, curvy wooded coastal roads rim rugged cliffs that plummet to the pristine sea below. Tiny towns hug the rocky cliffs hanging over hidden coastal inlets of aquamarine water. Superb seafood restaurants entice visitors to picturesque ports. Oh, yes, Roman ruins, Saracen towers, Bourbon French fortresses, Greek temples, medieval monasteries, and abandoned mountain villages are there, too, in case the splendid seaside is not enticement enough.

Cantine Aperte: This past May, fifty-one Umbrian wine cellars threw open their cantina doors, invited visitors into their vineyards and uncorked bottles of crisp whites and robust reds for the thousands joining in on Cantine Aperte (“Open Cellars”).

These essays were first published on Anne's website www.annesitaly.com. Edited by Slow Travel.

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