Two years ago Monty Don, one of my favourite TV garden presenters, took us around the world in 80 gardens. In this four hour two DVD set he tours Italy. He starts with the Renaissance gardens around Rome, mostly created by popes and cardinals to demonstrate their power and prestige. In the second episode he visits Florence and the Tuscan countryside, where gardens were created as works of art. The third episode was my personal favourite - Naples and the south of Italy, where the gardens are more informal and more floriferous. Those gardens combining vistas of the Amalfi coast were particularly impressive. In the final hour Don travels north again to the Veneto region, Lucca and finally Lake Maggiore, where we saw what was for me the most unusual and interesting garden.
This DVD is very much about grand gardens and their history (often fascinating) rather than gardening. There is very little about individual plants, and when Don does mention them it is not to tell us how to grow or use them. For example, we learn that in Venice tomatoes were grown for a long time before people realized one could eat them. Monty Don is as always an enthusiastic and engaging guide, who does not tell us about himself (as some presenters do) rather than the gardens and plants. A very, very pleasant and relaxing four hours of viewing.