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BBC Two’s Rob and Rylan’s Grand Tour Premieres 12 May

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The two friends, with differing tastes in culture, will retrace the steps of 19th-century poet Lord Byron in this entertaining new BBC Arts series.

BBC Two presents an entertaining and enlightening new series, Rob and Rylan’s Grand Tour, where friends Rob Rinder and Rylan embark on a cultural journey across Italy. With differing tastes in culture, the pair will retrace the steps of 19th-century romantic poet Lord Byron and other historic Brits who took the original package holiday—the Grand Tour.

The Grand Tour was a tradition among young upper-class Brits, a cultural odyssey designed to broaden their horizons and turn them into civilised, educated gentlemen. Rob, a fan of opera and poetry, and Rylan, an architecture enthusiast who admits to being a newcomer to the world of high culture, will discover if the Grand Tour can still work its magic in the 21st century.

Their journey begins in Venice, where they will encounter artistic masterpieces such as Tintoretto’s Il Paradiso, one of the largest paintings on canvas in the world, and explore the legacy of Canaletto. They will also try their hand at glassblowing on the island of Murano in the Venetian lagoon. Rob will fulfil a lifelong dream by conducting Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, while Rylan uncovers the hidden side of the Venice Carnival, a historic haven for gay men in the 18th century.

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In the majestic Renaissance city of Florence, the pair will climb the Duomo di Firenze, sample traditional cuisine, and delve into the city’s rich artistic heritage, including works by Michelangelo and Donatello. They will also attend the ancient football match, Calcio Storico, and view a self-portrait by female Renaissance artist Artemisia Gentileschi.

The Grand Tour will conclude in Rome, the beating heart of classical civilisation. Here, Rob and Rylan will explore classical ruins, recreate Baroque masterpieces, and perform opera on a rooftop. They will also try on the flamboyant fashions of the ‘macaronis’, Englishmen who embraced Italian style, and may even find time for some fencing and dancing.

With Rob’s appreciation for high culture and Rylan’s willingness to immerse himself in new experiences, the series looks set to offer a unique and humorous perspective on Italian art and history.

Rob and Rylan’s Grand Tour will air on BBC Two and iPlayer from 12 May 2024.

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Isabelle aka Izzy Jacobs is the UK previews specialist at memorabletv.com. Isabelle is particularly drawn to crime dramas, but she also has a not so secret love for all things reality TV. In addition to her work at memorabletv.com, Isabelle is also an avid traveler and a devoted foodie.

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