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Francesco's Italy - Top To Toe 2008


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Sit back and enjoy the ride, as architect, historian, and film-maker Francesco da Mosto drives his Alfa Romeo Spider the length of Italy, from North to South, celebrating the art and beauty of the country. Taking in architecture, cathedrals, churches, palaces, and paintings, Francesco also explores the rich cultural diversity of the country, focussing in detail on the effect the Renaissance had across the arts.

Francesco da Mosto
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Product Details

  • Francesco's Italy - Top To Toe - Disc 1 ages_15_and_over
  • Francesco's Italy - Top To Toe - Disc 2 ages_15_and_over
Runtime 3 hours 20 minutes
Starring Francesco da Mosto
Director Jonty Claypole, Andrea Carnevali
Genres Documentary
Rental release 18 August 2008
Main languages English
Hearing impaired subtitles English

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Recycled Rabbit TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Aug. 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"This is the moment most Italian drivers fear- a Venetian getting into a car."

Finally released from 2006 this is a four part documentary (60 minutes each episode) of a trip from the North to the South of Italy in the company of the charming Francesco da Mosta. It comes in a 2 DVD set in a single case with no extras apart from the subtitles.

Very much an insider's view of the country the journey in a red Alfa Romeo Spider along the roads from Venice to his mother's former home in Palermo is not only a taste of the architecture and art of Italy but an insight into daily life and obsessions. We taste the short intense gulp of breakfast espresso, then overdose on home made pizza, pasta and ice cream. We investigate designer fashion then take part in the Passegiata- the ritual evening walk in our best clothes through the town streets. If you're learning Italian it's perfect as Francesco conducts interviews in his native tongue and occasionally finds it more expressive to slap an Italian turn of phrase mid sentence to camera- it's all subtitled so you don't miss anything.

There are scenes of magnificent palaces with rich decoration and the homes of the poor- the Basso shop/homes of Naples, the tax avoidance scam of the conical Trulli in Puglia, the cave squatters of Sassi. The span of artefacts ranges from Roman mosaics to a collection of unused giant heads of Mussolini languishing in a basement. We move from the sublime heights of Puccini's operas to the writhing dance of the Tarantella.

There's plenty of gory subjects too- frescoes of the last judgment, the dissection museum in Bologna with its wax models, flagellants in Southern Italy drawing blood with points of glass to show their devotion, underground crypts in Naples and Palermo with mummified bodies.
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Francescos most interesting and enjoyable series shown on BBC1 two years ago has taken quite a while to reach DvD but the wait is well worth it.

Francesco who lives in his glorious Venitian palace has no use of a car so the Ferrari red Alfa Spider he drives was loaned by a friend.

Many will feel let down by his choice of cities in the North but Italy is a country of incredible diversity.The industrial North contrasted by the agricultural almost medieval way of life in southern Italy.

This is a series of great contrast.He visits Milan,a grubby city where Italian chic and designer shops are everywhere.Eve Saint Lerent makes a guest appearence and talks about Milan in general.Italian chic and fashion are taken to extreams in this city where even the Policewomen are immaculately dressed and are allowed to wear highheels.Imagine our policewomen in this country chasing after somebody in highheels?.

Bolognia the oldest university in the world aswell as the resting place of Lucretia Borgia the reformed wife of the powerfull Medici family who eventually became a nun.

Verona and the rather modern balcony that was supposed to have inspired Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet but the Bard never made a visit to this beautifull town.

Sienna that gorgeous city where a visit to the magnificent campo or square where the famous Palio horserace takes place.

Lucca the birthplace and home of the great composer Puccini.One of Francescos friends a opera singer sings one of Puccini magnificent arias in the square.Whether you love opera or not one cannot imagine such a romantic setting without the heart felt passion of Verdi or Puccini, the locals and tourists alike are captivated by the occasion.
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A beautifully-photographed BBC series exploring Italy's complex history and vast artistic and cultural patrimony. This not-so-novel task is here entrusted to the personal interpretation of Francesco da Mosto, historian and charismatic host of several such programs. Francesco, a native of Venice with a Sicilian mother and Venetian father, is well qualified to span the extremes that coexist in this country of contrasts.

Driving his red Alfa Romeo Spider convertible, Francesco zips through Italy on a scenic journey, stopping to explore a quirky selection of locations of historic and artistic significance. As a native Italian, I loved a lot of the featured locations and the friendly way in which Francesco brings their history to life. However, I felt his disproportionate emphasis on the religious aspects (as well as a curious obsession with catacombs, skulls and skeletons) detracted from the overall feel-good ambiance and seriously skewed the presentation. I was also disappointed that coverage of Lazio and especially Rome, my hometown, was dominated by the frankly ghastly urban architectural legacy of Mussolini. Granted, it is factual and recent history, however, it is in no way representative of what most Romans know and feel about the Eternal City.

There are many gorgeous episodes, including a tour of Tivoli's fabulous Villa d'Este, a trek up a still-active volcano, and a touching family reunion. This is my least favourite of his historical travelogues but, if you enjoy the good-humoured style, you may find the overall program interesting and stimulating. I would give 3 stars for the mixed content, and 5 for the host's engaging personality, making it a 4-stars score.
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