Rob Brydon's guide to Italy
The Trip to Italy is back for a repeat visit this weekend, so we get the lowdown on the best restaurants, finest wines and biggest laughs to be had on a road trip from Piedmont to Capri...
Comic duo Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan embark on a Grand Tour-style journey through Italy this weekend (The Trip to Italy begins at 11pm, Friday 17th April, on GOLD). Travelling to Piedmont, Tuscany, Rome and Capri in a Mini Cooper (naturally), the pair stop often to indulge in some fine Italian grub. Brydon explains how we can follow in their footsteps...
A bottle (or two) of Barolo
"Filming the first series, I put on eight pounds, so on this trip I didn’t tuck in with as much gusto and almost unbelievably I came back without having put on any weight," explains Brydon. "The wine was my weakness — the restaurants would always recommend one and they seemed to get it right from where I was sitting. I’m partial to a glass of barolo. It’s quite full-bodied but I’m no Jilly Goolden... I imagine Steve [Coogan] thinks he’s more
of a connoisseur."
Mutiny in the Med
"Camogli is a little port with these wonderful tall, thin, old-fashioned italian buildings — all painted yellow, mustard or gold," explains Bryson. "We stayed in a hotel just up a little hill from the harbour. At night you’d hear the pebbles on the beach being swept up by the waves. It was very atmospheric. From there we chartered a yacht and channelled Anthony Hopkins in The Bounty (as you do)."
Just the two of us
"We stayed at a beautiful converted monastery in Pievescola that I’d stayed at previously with my wife," remembers Brydon. "People often ask: 'Was that your real wife on the end of the phone?' to which I reply: 'that’s absurd.' there’s nobody else that’s real in The Trip. it’s just Steve and me. For example, in the series I have one daughter aged two or three. In reality, I have five children who are 19, 17, 14, five and two."
"It’s not overstating it to say the scenery from Rome down to the Amalfi coast is breathtaking," says Brydon. "I’d always imagined it to be a bit twee but it was majestic. And if you’re going to navigate the Amalfi coast, a Mini is the perfect car because the roads are so narrow and windy. Steve is disdainful of my driving in the show, and he’s fairly disdainful in real life as well. For the record, it’s worth adding that on the two occasions that we’ve been on Top Gear I’ve beaten him. I’m not a stickler but I do think that fact should be noted in Radio Times."
Making a good impression
"Ravello is famous for being the place where Gore Vidal saw out his days — and I very much enjoyed honing my impression of him while I was there," says Brydon. "Ravello was also the setting for Beat the Devil, a John huston film starring humphrey bogart. In fact, we filmed at Villa cimbrone, which is where some of the scenes in that film take place and where all the actors and huston stayed. Villa cimbrone is a hotel way, way up high — up above the clouds. It has almost a literal heavenly feel."
Giving in to temptation
"My favourite restaurant, Il Riccio, was perched on a cliff on the Isle of Capri from which the diners can feast on a vista of sparkling sea," says Brydon. "The seafood linguine (I have a particular fondness for seafood) was out of this world. When you come to your dessert, they have a chilled, temperature-controlled room full of neapolitan delicacies. I believe it’s called the 'temptation room'. you wander round, choose what you want and take it back outside into the warmth. I put my money where my mouth is and my wife and I have already been back since filming."
The Trip to Italy is repeated at 11pm, Friday 17th April, on GOLD