The cradle of European art and science, romance, intrigue
as well as the style and fashion mecca of the world - it can
only be Italy. Unified in 1861, Italy has still maintained
a unique identity owing to a very proud and illustrious history
and an immensely diverse cultural heritage. And the Pilot
Guides team are off to find out what makes it tick.
We begin with KT Comer hitching a ride in
a Ferrari, which proceeds to scream along a racetrack followed
by an equally intense trip in a taxi.
Meanwhile, Ian Wright gets into a spot of
bother not realising he has to get his ticket validated before
being allowed on the bus.
Estelle Bingham is in Rome,
the country's capital set amid seven hills and home to the Vatican City and the Colloseum.
Beginning at the Forum, Estelle investigates
the administrative heart of the Roman Empire, which over a
period of 700 years grew to encompass most of Europe as well
as part of Asia and North Africa.
Justine Shapiro discovers the influence
of Roman sophistication which extended south of Naples to
the famous city of Pompeii. The city, which
perished under a layer of burning fragments of pumice stone
in 79AD, is home to some impressive sights including frescoes
in the Villa dei Misteri, a stunning array
of country houses and villas and a Basilica that dates back
to the second century BC.
Megan McCormick visits the majestic city
of Venice, built on drained marshlands by
the fleeing Romans. Described by Napoleon as the 'most elegant
drawing book in Europe,' Venice is host to 20 million tourists
each year. Megan visits the Basilica, the
centrepiece of St Marks Square, built to
house the body of St Mark. She also gets acquainted with the
square's other inhabitants - thousands of low-flying pigeons.
We also see the town of San Gimignano, a
hill top city characterised by huge towers, said to have been
watchtowers for marauders and thieves. Described as a 'medieval
Manhattan', some towers are as high as 40 metres. Ian visits
the most famous tower in Tuscany - the leaning one in Pisa.
We follow Ian Wright to Florence and Piazza
della Signoria, home to the Uffizi Gallery (housing paintings of Botticelli, Giotto and Leonardo
Da Vinci), Palazzo Vecchio and Michelangelo's
statue of David - one of the world's most famous works of
art. Funded by Florence's richest patrons, the Medici family,
Florence became Italy's most important city both culturally
and intellectually during the renaissance.
KT takes us on to the jewel in Florence's crown, Brunelleschi's
Duomo. A lavish exterior gives way to a more sombre
and modest interior, although the dome itself is simply breathtaking
and remains an example of engineering and architectural genius.
Ian strikes up a friendship with a local baron and stays
in an idyllic farmhouse from 90 euros per night. He also gets
to indulge in some wine tasting at a local cellar and does
some olive picking in the groves. Meanwhile Estelle stays
in a hostel for the night for 15 dollars while in the southern
Italian town of Albero Bello, Megan stays
in a hotel overlooking the town's conical shaped houses.
Mindful of the romance associated with Italy, Megan tries
to get to grips with the amorous intentions of the Italian
male while Ian tries his luck with the fairer sex on the coast
Megan gives us a quick peek at the designer boutiques in
Milan's Quadrillatero d'Oro or Golden Square.
Estelle tries her hand at making a pizza and Ian indulges
in some ice cream and a rather dubious tripe salad.
Finally we end our action packed programme with a visit to Sienna's annual 'Palio', a hectic horserace
held between rival towns in the main square. Ian watches a
match of 'Calcio Storico' Florence's traditional yet violent
'sport where teams combine rugby, football wrestling and boxing
and Megan partakes in a game of orange throwing in the town
of Ivrea - a three day celebration that commemorates
the town's revolt against the tyrannical Count Ranieri.