I was attracted to this programme presented by actor Richard E Grant for several reasons.
Firstly, I had seen his programme on the art of The French Riviera and enjoyed it. Secondly I knew the Analfi coast which he was visiting well. Thirdly most of the books he was discussing set in that region I had read.
He started his journey in Naples and his companion reading was Elena Ferrante ‘s quartet set there, Naples 44 by Norman Lewis and an American cookery writer’s appreciation of the Neapolitan pizza generally recognised as the best in the world.
Charles Dickens travelled to Naples and wrote about it in Pictures from Italy when he was 31 and like Lewis later was struck by its poverty.
From there Grant made the short journey to Pompeii and his companion read was Pompeii by Robert Harris.
As in Naples he utilised the services of a local historian and guide.
He then travelled south to Positano.
The hotel he stayed in – the Miramare – I have visited three times and it’s my favourite small hotel in the world with breath-taking views from the bedroom balcony over the Bay of Naples to Capri.
Here Patricia Highsmith wrote The Talented Mr Ripley.
He finished his journey in the Deep South of Italy where writer Carlo Levi was exiled by Mussolini.
His companion literature was Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli.
My only critique was that I was left unsure what sort of programme this was: a travelogue, a book programme, a history, or an excuse for Grant to holiday.
When travel has been a no-no for 18 months and it is still difficult, it was wonderful to sit back, my glass full of my favourite Amalfi coast wine Greco Tufo to savour, and enjoy this superb part of the world.