Presenter: Megan McCormick
Megan’s journey starts by air, in the Roman town of Aosta, an ideal location for observing the spectacular and historic valley of Val Da Oasta.
In Ivrea she experiences the strangest and most ancient carnival celebrations in Italy. A three day battle using oranges for ammunition to commemorate the 12th century revolt against the tyrannical Count Rinari, who had his wicked way with all new brides, until a feisty miller’s daughter named Violetta beheaded him. Up to 100,000 contestants bombard the nobility represented in the carts paraded in the square. Teams are selected from the neighbourhoods in which they live, so rivalry is fierce!
On to Alba to discover the secrets of one of the world’s rarest gourmet delicacies, truffles, the fungal equivalent of gold. Setting off with a pack off trained dogs, she joins the hunt.
Next stop is cosmopolitan capital Milan, she takes in the Duomo, which is the world’s largest statue adorned Gothic cathedral, and see the magnificent view of the alps. The cathedral contains one of Italy’s most prized holy relics, the Santo Quioto, a nail from the crucifix of Christ which is shown to the public just one day each year.
Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world and it seems like people here are impossibly stylish, in Quatrolatero Duoro - the Golden Square even the police uniform is made by Armani.
Failing to get a ticket for the world famous opera house La Scala, Megan visits the burial ground of opera comopser Giuseppi Verdi where you can actually hear his music still filtering down.
It’s a short train journey to the magnificent Medieval towns of Parma, Modena, Mantua and Verona. She samples the local Parma ham and Parmesan cheese, a staple part of the local diet for 700 years and learns how to make Parmesan traditional in copper vats. In Modenello, home to the Ferrari dynasty she visits a Ferrari museum. In the lakeside city of Monteva she visits the Gonzagas palace of its most famed historic family and she experiences some of Italy’s greatest art works.
From Monteva it’s a half hour train journey to Verona, the city of love nested on the banks of the curling Audeje river. She visits the balcony of Shakespeare’s Juliet and meets the woman who responds to the fictious Juliet’s many letters with advice on love for women.
From Verona, Megan takes the train up to the Tyrolean mountain of Bolanzo, and catches a bus to the swanky ski resort of Portina del Fetso, where she feels out of place without the regulation fur coat!
She visits the Dolomites, some of the most spectacular mountains in the world whose 60 million year old corals reate their worn view and razor sharp peaks.
It’s a three hour train journey to Megan’s final destination, Venice the city of lust,which is the only city with rivers for roads in which a township has sprung from its muddy islands. She party’s at its strange historic carnival which dates back to 1094 and is moulded for a traditional carnival mask
To conclude her journey’s in Northern Italy, she visits St Marks Square and the Basilica church which housed the body of St Mark 1200 years ago.