Testimonials

I have known Robert for several years and have participated with him this past year on two different visits. What makes Robert unique, besides his ability to understand the needs of an English speaking client, is that the visits I did with him were comprehensive. Unlike other experiences I have had, where the guide is almost the sole face of the region, he introduced us to meet others who were truly experts in their field. One tour I took was a visit along the French Italian border. We first traveled across the French border to the Italian side where we had lunch in a small remote village with an Italian historian of the border whom Robert had invited. This historian set the background of where we were and what was happening from hundred of years ago to the current political environment in Italy. From there were traveled up the Roya Valley on the French side to a remote sanctuary painted with frescos from the fourteenth century and full of symbolism. Robert brought with him an art historian who was an expert on art in the Nice mountain region and then we made our way to a village which after WWII, had converted from being Italian to French. What made this visit unforgettable is that he had invited the local mayor and a number of elderly persons who themselves had experienced the change of countries in their youth and told stories about their personal experiences. The second visit I did with Robert included vineyards and local cuisine. This was not your usual wine tasting and walk through of empty wine making equipment in the off-season. We met with a very small producer who took us into the fields to taste and experience the grapes and then he brought us into his private wine cellar where the wine is made by him and his wife. This was followed by a second tour whereby we visited a larger, more commercial winery, but with the knowledge we had gained, we were in a position to appreciate the differences. The local cuisine was also quite unusual. While France and Provence are known for their cuisine, most food visits are of the markets. Robert took us to the source, the vegetable growers and into their fields. He had them cook a fresh meal right from the garden, which was accompanied by a couple of local musicians which really gave us the experience of the four hour Provencal lunch that we might imagine from the movies. There are no places left like this and without Robert we would have never been able to access these kind of experiences. I think Robert tries to give his visitors an experience which, first, they will never forget and second, instead of sightseeing in a world where many of the shops are the same everywhere in the world, he exposed us to lives which were different from our own and allowed us to freely interact with these people so we could understand their points of view and share with them ours.
Burton G.
I have known Robert for many years and watched as he began his studies in Provençal patrimony, then completing his degrees in Medieval history and now in his studies for his doctorate. I have even had a chance to read his Master’s Dissertation which was written on the Provençal and Italian regions. It makes for fascinating reading for anyone who has an interest in history. While Robert has developed a very complete background on the history of the region, what is most impressive to me is his local contacts and his ability to insert me into the local community in a way that I have never considered from a guide, more like what I would get from a close friend, and one who knew where all of the skeletons were buried. Although I have extensively traveled, I do not enjoy visiting what I am « supposed » to visit: the eternal monuments and museums which we are suppose to see (and which reflect someones idea of what is important). Nor am I very much interested in shopping at the same stores we can now find anywhere in the world. What interests me is getting to know real people when I travel and getting to understand their way of life, what made them the way they are and at least a glimpse of how they think. While sometimes it is very difficult to imagine trading places with them, what makes traveling exciting for me is getting intimate with real people. People who can expose me to a new way of thinking. People who can educate me and who leave me with a lasting impression. I don’t always understand everything I see, but I get exposure. That is what I find so different in Robert. He doesn’t go off spouting all kinds of facts, dates and figures about people I never heard of. He brought me into contact with others who were experts in their fields and who spoke from passion. Sometimes people in the travel industry seem to present to their clients what they « think » they want to see. Often based on their past experiences. But as I have extensively lived and traveled throughout the world, I want to make my own impressions and I want to see things through many different people’s eyes. Robert concentrates on giving me this chance, with people who are not involved with tourists or foreigners and usually don’t speak English. That is rare for me to find and it allows me to go much deeper into the places I visit. With Robert, I got to meet people, yes who are local, and yes, who don’t normally communicate with tourists, but more importantly, people who had developed professional expertise or who had lived themselves through important moments in their own lives and were now sharing it with me. That is quite different than just meeting a local and going into a local pub. That is what makes travel unforgettable and that it what Robert does. He allows me to experience, to see, smell, taste and hear a side of Provence and Italy, which I would as a foreigner not normally get a chance to see and experience.
Greta B.