Muppets eat Bologna!
I can’t believe it’s been two years since the cheesy bromance that is Italy Unpacked first hit our screens. (see my original review below) Apparently there are still acres of la bella Italia to be subjected to the over-ripe patter of this pair. This time around it’s the turn of the east coast which includes (in the first episode) the particularly bella regione of Puglia. Which puts me in a difficult situation – wanting to see the old country but having to put up with the Top Gear meets Brokeback Mountain nonsense of the presenters. True to form A G-D has helpfully offered some ‘essential’ tips for visiting Italy by way of an aperitivo to the series. Let’s see – ‘don’t ever order a cappuccino after 11am’ … right… Apart from losing count of the number of times I’ve heard that one – it’s absolute garbage. Ask anyone in Italy and you’ll get a look like the one we Scots reserve for when we get asked about the Loch Ness Monster. Which makes me think that this whole confection is the worst kind of Italio-travel-porn made for people who either – love the idea of Italy but have never gone there – or – had a city-break or a quick whizz-around on a tour bus. So here’s my bit of advice – get yourself over there, spend a decent amount of time and engage with the people. Loosen up and you’ll find yourself part of a marvelous and maddening family full of the warmest and most brilliant people in the world. And further more – they are REAL – and not bit-players in a travelogue created by ‘The Chuckle Brothers with an art history degree’. p.s. I will watch it but thank God for recording and the fast-forward button!
What is it about the BBC and their fondness for the ‘bromance travelogue‘? Back on our screens this week – a little aperitivo for the chattering classes as they plan this year’s trip to Umbria or Emilia Romagna (Toscana is so twenty years ago) – is Italy Unpacked, featuring that right pair of muppets: Giorgio Locatelli and Andrew Graham-Dixon. The premise is ‘uomo macho’ Locatelli swaggers and sweats his way around the old country, as ‘uomo colto’ Dixon simpers and sweats even more. (What is it about Dixon and perspiring? He’s presented countless other programmes in countries hotter than Italy and appeared daisy-fresh – is this applied neorealism or does Dixon merely melt after a whiff of Locatelli’s testosterone?). I’m sure the BBC is thinking Boswell/Johnson, Quixote/Panza, Crosby/Hope but quite honestly the structure of Italy Unpacked makes ‘The Road’ films look like John le Carre! The action goes something like this: Locatelli cooks up some dodgy dish, usually involving something pulled – Hemingway-like – out of the sea, serves it up to his adoring pal; they engage with some dentally-challenged locals – with Dixon looking even more uncomfortable at this point; they both then visit some nearby fresci, do a bit of oohing and aahing while they play creepy art teacher and naughty boy kept back for detention. They speed off – Top Gear-like – into the sunset, e finito – another one in the can. Where is Francesco da Mosto these days? Surely this kind of travel porn is best done by the formaggio-maestro himself and not two charisma-free dads exploring their mid-life crisis. The campaign starts here: ditch the bromance and bring back da Mosto!!