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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 22 December 2016
Francesco da Mosto is the charming host of a number of TV programs exploring the ancient history of Italy and its artistic and cultural contribution throughout the ages. Without a TV, and not really missing it, we have the opportunity of collecting DVDs of the best programs and series and this is a big favourite, which we view every few months with undiminished enjoyment.

This DVD series (on 2 discs) is devoted to Venice, Francesco's birthplace and the city where he still lives. Apart from stunning photographic coverage of places and interiors, this series attempts to explain what it is like to be a Venetian, a world citizen, but forever bound to this gorgeous, unique sinking masterpiece. A fascinating visual presentation of history and art in a very friendly, companionable way. Francesco acts like a virtual friend taking us round to see the sights. I love these programs and have bought others featuring the same host.
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on 23 March 2017
Narrated by the charismatic and chain-smoking Venetian actor/architect/historian Francesco Da Mosto, this BBC series gives an illuminating look at the history of the incredible Venice. Da Mosto's family have a very long association with Venice - he can trace his ancestors back to the fifth century. One of his famous descendants is the explorer Alvise da Mosto, who discovered the Cape Verde islands off the west of Africa. Da Mosto has lived in Venice all his life - in many ways he is the perfect host.

With four hour-long episodes, Da Mosto charts the long and winding course Venice's history. In "Blood", he describes how a little known swamp of a malaria-infested lagoon became a secret hideaway from attackers - the birthplace of Venice. The role of the Doge (leader) of Venice is described in detail, and Da Mosto visits the stunning Doge's Palace. He tells the bloody and gruesome story of probably the most famous Doge - Enrico Dandolo - who was blinded when he went to Constantinople for peace talks, but returned to Venice and continued even stronger in his role.

In "Beauty", Da Mosto describes the arrival of the golden age of art and architecture - when small wooden houses transformed into glittering stone and marble palaces that lined the Grand Canal. Almost overnight, fishermen became successful trading merchants. This was the age of Venice producing the world's most famous artists and most stunning buildings as Titian and Palladio transformed the landscape and image of the city. But problems kept occurring - the killer plague virtually destroyed the city, and the emergence of a new trade route to the east round the Cape of Good Hope cut out Venice from key business relationships. Their response - to let in Jews to improve business - the world's first Jewish "ghetto".

"Sex" was the age of the fabled Casanova, the age of the courtesan - when Venice was the bright red-light district of Europe, attracting men from across the continent. These hopefuls pretended to come in search of art - Vivaldi, Canaletto and Canova worked in the city. But Venice had grown decadent and lazy - for a thousand years the hidden sandbanks of the lagoon had given them security and protection from invaders - now the new military technologies of Napoleon gave him an easy victory over Venice - their independence was over.

In "Death", Da Mosto puts some of the blame for Venice's decline at the door of the British. From the moment that Byron put Venice on the tourist map of "The Grand Tour", the city has been literally overflowing with visitors, and locals have been leaving. Da Mosto also shares his personal story, describing the devastating flood of 1966 that nearly washed the city away, and introducing his father and children as the past and future generations of his Venetian family. Also, he describes bizarre ideas to modernise Venice, including destroying old churches and converting the Grand Canal into a motorway. Da Mosto says the rail and road bridges to mainland Italy have destroyed Venice, and the factories opposite the city have upset the ecosystem of the lagoons.

However good Da Mosto is, he is prone to hypocrisy. He critisizes Napoleon and others for stealing a lot of Venice's art and treasures - such as the Paolo Veronese painting "The Wedding At Cana" which still hangs in The Louvre - but he thinks it is fine for Venice to have "The Horses Of Saint Mark" as it's emblem, even although they were stolen by Venetians during the sack of Constantinople in 1204. So Venetians can steal treasures, but nobody else can?

And, Da Mosto seems very negative about modern Venice as it is overflowing with tourists. There are only about 50,000 Venetians left as a permanent population. But Da Mosto fails to accept that the Venetians have brought this on themselves. He himself described how many wealthy Venetian families gambled away their fortunes in the casinos, and he detailed the incredible poverty of Venice in the early part of the twentieth century. If anything, tourism has saved Venice, not destroyed it.

For anyone who has been to Venice or is planning to go in the future, it is very worthwhile and informative to watch this series. Da Mosto is a wonderful host.
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on 12 April 2017
Surprisingly good set of four docs about Venice. I wish I had watched them before my last visit rather than afterwards. Entertainingly covers the history, arts, culture, debauchery and landmarks of Venice. Very worthwhile, answered many questions I had and a number which had, t occurred to me. Can recommend.
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on 3 February 2017
Francesco is entertaining and somewhat hypnotising with his voice and accent. Very entertaining , well done and educational!
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on 27 April 2017
Highly informative and the content can not be faulted, but I found it all just a bit too dry and as excited as we all were about an upcoming trip to Venice and trying to glean nuggets of useful historical and cultural context, we lost concentration and ended up drinking tea and not getting to the end of the DVDs.
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on 7 May 2017
Recently visited Venice with friends 2 of whom had not been before. I decided to get each of them a copy of the DVD as I knew it would help to fill in some of the gaps because of its high quality and level of historical information.
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on 13 March 2017
Essential viewing if you want to go to Venice. We watched it before we visited and fell in love with the city. On our 4th visit in as many years were we're lucky enough to bump into the man himself as he stood on a bridge by the Rialto Market. Lovely and down to earth, his love for this city shines as bright in person.
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on 21 March 2017
very good
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on 29 April 2017
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on 24 March 2017
Interesting viewing for anyone studying Venice.Although made for tv about 10 years ago,it is still very relevant.
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