Francesco’s Mediterranean Voyage 9 July 2022: Saturday on BBC Four
The Dardanelles – Episode 11 of 12 – Francesco da Mosto reaches the outer limits of the old Venetian empire on his voyage from Venice to Istanbul. Now he enters Turkish waters, the Strait of the Dardanelles, gateway to the east.
First stop are the haunting beaches of Gallipoli – scene of one of the worst massacres of the First World War. It was here that the Anzac forces of New Zealand and Australia were decimated as, alongside British troops, they tried to retake the Dardanelles.
After the bumpiest of bus rides inland, Francesco arrives at the city of Edirne, which boasts Turkey’s finest – and biggest – mosque. The incredible acoustics of the giant dome are demonstrated by a local imam with the biggest pair of lungs in town.
In Edirne the most popular sport is wrestling. Naked, except for skin-tight leather trousers and covered in olive oil, the local wrestlers are giants of men. The sport is a severe trial of strength and the rules uncertain – it’s even acceptable to put your hands down your opponent’s trousers. Francesco is forced to give it a try.
The White Swan embarks on its final lap to Istanbul. But one detour is irresistible – to Bursa, birthplace of the doner kebab.
Istanbul – Episode 12 of 12 – Franceso da Mosto reaches Istanbul, the final stop of his marathon voyage from Venice following the trading routes of the Venetian empire.
Istanbul straddles the Bosphorus as well as two continents. It has been home of both Christian and Islamic civilisations, and Francesco is eager to explore this great city.
First stop is the Palace of Topkapi – centre of power for the Ottoman empire. Most haunting of all is the palace harem, a prison to the sultan’s many concubines. Beneath the city is a vast network of underground tunnels dating back more than a thousand years.
Donning hard hat and waders, Francesco enters one of the huge underground cisterns – looking more like a Roman emperor’s palace than a water tank. Two giant heads of Medusa lie abandoned in the water.
Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s biggest undercover markets and Francesco has a mission in mind. He is going to learn how to sell a Turkish carpet. As he learns the secrets of the trade, he is shown one of the most expensive and beautiful carpets in the city.
A visit to Istanbul would not be complete without the experience of a Turkish bath, however, so Francesco offers himself up for a vigorous soap and scrub. But soon it is time to say goodbye. A final celebration aboard the Black Swan with its long-suffering crew brings Francesco’s journey to an end.
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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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