Francesco’s Mediterranean Voyage 11 June 2022: Saturday on BBC Four
Bosnia and Dubrovnik – Episode 3 of 12 – Conditions at sea are turning rough as Francesco da Mosto continues his journey, sailing from Venice to Istanbul. The coastline is stunning, but he cannot fail to notice the scars of war that followed hard on the collapse of Yugoslavia.
His first stop is the great Mostar bridge – an ancient symbol of unity destroyed in a moment of madness in war and now rebuilt. Once again, the young men of the town take their lives in their hands and leap from the bridge to prove their manhood. Francesco then travels to the nearby town of Medugorje, where locals claim to have seen the Virgin Mary, promising a new era of peace and prosperity.
Then begins some island-hopping and reminders of Venice – the beautiful island of Hvar is like a home from home, and the crew enjoy their first night out on the town. Heading for Korcular, Francesco berates the locals for trying to claim it was birthplace to Marco Polo.
Then on to the medieval city of Dubrovnik, a great trading city-state and still one of the most beautiful cities in the world. What better place for Francesco to discover the secret of eternal youth than in the great Franciscan monastery at the heart of the old town!
Montenegro and Albania – Episode 4 of 12 – On the next step of his sea voyage from Venice to Istanbul, Francesco da Mosto is sailing into the Bay of Kotor where Venetian sailors knew they were leaving safe waters for the dangers of pirates and the ships of rival powers.
So perhaps it’s wise for Francesco and the crew to stop off at the magical little church of Santuario della madonna della scarpello, perched on a few rocks in the open sea. Here Venetian sailors prayed for a safe voyage or, if they were lucky, where they offered thanks to God for a safe return.
Many Venetian ships came to grief here – if not through attack then they fell victim to the elements. Off the coast of Montenegro, Francesco dives to a shipwreck deep on the ocean bed.
Next is Ulcinj – a pirate fortress town – where captives taken by pirates were held before being sold into slavery. Even today it has an air of menace. Francesco sees the original cells where Venetians unlucky enough to fall into the hands of the pirates were imprisoned.
The next stop is Durres on the coast of Albania – poor and facing an uncertain future after the all-too-recent rule of Communist dictator, Enver Hoxha. The capital city of Tirana is still the stuff of spies and Cold War intrigue but the colourful city mayor is pinning his hopes on a dramatic makeover of the city.
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About Francesco’s Mediterranean Voyage
Architect and historian Francesco da Mosto embarks on a journey to cross the Mediterranean sea
This show is broadcast on BBC Four, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.
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