Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles I'm Andrew Graham Dickson and I'm an art historian. I'm Giorgio Locatelli and I'm a chef. We are both passionate about my homeland, Italy. The smells, the colour, this is what food is all about for me. The rich flavours and classic dishes of this land are in my culinary DNA. And this country's rich layers of art and history have captivated me since childhood. It's enough to make you feel as if you are being whirled up to heaven. We're stepping off the tourist track and exploring Italy's Northern regions of Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and Piedmont. It's part of Italy that's often overlooked, but it drives the whole country and I want to show off its classic dishes. Not to mention its hidden legacy of artist, designers, intellectuals. Wow, this is incredible. This week we are in Lombardy, where I grew up. I can't wait to introduce Andrew to the hearty Lombardy food of my youth. We'll also enjoy the ingenious art and thrilling design that reveal how this region really is the motor of Italy. Lombardy may not be the most exotic region in Italy, but, for me, it's special. Bordering Switzerland, we are closer here to Zurich than Rome. There is only one place to start our journey, my home town of Corgeno, by Lake Maggiore. I've cooked for Andrew many times at my restaurant, but I'm taking him to where it all started, Casa Locatelli. Mama, Papa. Oh, ciao, Mama. Small daddy, he's a small daddy. He used to be bigger than me, but now he's... Ferruccio. Pinuccia and Ferruccio. No, I'll remember, I'll remember. I'm hungry. 'We're here for lunch and polenta's on the menu.' You see, what happens here is, my mum runs the kitchen and even when I come home, I'm not allowed to cook. So she cooks all the time. An exception is made for polenta. Polenta is a man thing. So my dad, as you can see, he's ready with his apron. So we're going to leave my mum here. No. No, no, we do it on the fire on the garden. So we're going to cook the polenta downstairs. Let's go. SHE SPEAKS ITALIAN It has to taste of smoke, otherwise, it's not good. Even though she's the captain of the kitchen, she's still telling you how to do the polenta. She's got to prepare the mushroom and the thing and we go and do the polenta. 'Polenta, made from ground maize, really is the pasta of the north. 'In fact, the southerners call us Lombards, Polentoni, 'because we eat so much of the stuff.' OK, you see, it's the most simple thing. You know, you just need a fire and a paiolo, which is this like cast iron, and then copper inside. And so, I remember when I was little I used to see all the shepherds going around with their flocks, and they had the donkey and on the donkey they will have the paiolo on the back. So that would actually make polenta in the field? That's right. On the open fire? That's why you make it on the open fire. During the war, that was the only thing that they had, polenta and when the partisan, which were striving here, you know it's like lost... The heroes? The heroes. That lived in the woods. Yeah, you know they were living in the woods. They'll camp, you're duty as a, somebody that didn't like the Fascists, obviously, at that point was to give half of your polenta to them. A beautiful colour! It's like saffron or something. Beautiful yellow. This is Roberto This is your... This is my brother. This is your brother. You look exactly, nothing like you. No, he's been training how to do polenta for the last 20 years. Who's the older brother? He is. And he's the one that's getting all the training. I'm just been around just doing Michelin starred food. You know, something not very important. I'm hungry. Is this the moment of truth? This is the most important moment. The man job is done, now we've got to go upstairs and see what the girls have managed to... Fantastic. ..Rustle up. I like the way, I like the way it's all swaddled up like a baby. While we were making the polenta, my mum was busy whipping up a meaty brochette and some delicious porcini mushrooms. Come, sit down. 'This is the kind of food that ignited my love affair with cooking. 'Hearty and simple, just the way I like it.' Wow. Look at the lake. Eh, and eat the polenta. Now you are full emersion. You smell it? This woody smell. Mmm.. You see how the flavours are so settled, so...? Mellow, gentle. Mellow, gentle. Almost like it reflects the personality of the people. Here, the people are a bit more mellow, and the nature determine what the people eat, but it almost looks like you almost determine the character of the people. Having visited Giorgio's home, it's only reinforced my sense of how strong an influence his earthy Lombard roots have had on him. But there are still sides to this region he doesn't know. Lombardy is a treasure trove of surprising little known works of art, and near the town of Bergamo there's a fascinating masterpiece Giorgio has never seen before. Just a few miles from where you live, there's this chapel attached to a grand house, and inside the chapel is one of the most extraordinary weird fresco cycles of the whole Renaissance. Right. By an artist called Lorenzo Lotto. Right. It's absolutely bizarre. He's like the Renaissance version of Magritte or Salvador Dali. OK. The frescos he created here in 1524 were commissioned for the private chapel of the Suardi family, one of the oldest and most influential in the region. The chapel isn't usually opened to the public, but the family have kindly agreed to let us in. Same. The same family from the time, so from the time of Lorenzo Lotto, 500 years later, still the same family. Oh, that's fantastic. Originally, the Suardis didn't reserve the chapel for their own exclusive use. Ordinary people who lived locally were encouraged to worship here. The works of art inside plunge you back to 16th-century Lombardy, a world in the grip of the Reformation. What do you think of this extraordinary weird image? Yeah, it's like this fingers, isn't it? It's very weird, surreal isn't it? It's absolutely surreal. Christ in need of a manicure. He's got these strange...it reminds me of that German story Struwwelpeter, the boy who lets his nails grow for ever. If you look, you see there's a little clue at the top actually to what's going on. Lorenzo Lotto is the only painter who took that line from the Bible. Ego sum vitis vos palmites. I am the vine and you are the branches. And he turned it into this extraordinary image. What are all these image up there? You've got saints growing in the...the whirls and the curls of this vine as it reaches up. But although it's so striking as an image, you mustn't think of it as a single scene, cos it's not. It's actually like a comic book. And what it tells is this very bloody story of Saint Barbara, Santa Barbara, and she is the daughter of Dioscoro, this evil pagan. And he wants to marry her off, but he wants her to be a virgin, so he locks her into this tower. as he goes off on his travels. OK. What he doesn't know, is that when she's in the tower, Christ visits her, gives her a vision, she converts to Christianity. There she is kneeling, praying outside the tower, always accompanied by this lovely little white dog with her. Yeah, the dog is there. And now this is where the story gets bloody and turns nasty. Dioscoro, her father, has come back and there he is saying, "Now's the time for you to get married." And she points up to heaven and says, "No, I'm not going to marry any man, I have become a bride of Christ." Now he has her tortured. He got her. Look, he's carrying her... He's got her hair there. He's dragging her by her hair. Dragging her. And it gets really nasty. I mean, it's X-rated, isn't it? I mean, he doesn't pull his punches. So they apply burning brands to her breasts and her genitals. It's very physical, you know. Lotto's living in this time that's extremely violent. It really looks terrible, doesn't it? And throughout this sort of bloody story, sufferings are punctuated by little rays of hope. And now an angel comes down from heaven and gives her a white cloak to put around her body. And as soon as she puts the cloak around her body, her whole body is healed, and then her little dog is accompanying her all the way. The thing about this fresco cycle is the date. Hmm. It's 1524, this is a time of huge crisis in Wittenberg and the north, just over those mountains that he's painted. Luther is saying, "We must split the church, we must protest against Rome." And this fresco is the Suardi family's way of saying to everybody who lived around here, don't buy into the idea that this church is going to be split, stay true to the old faith. And also, I think just the picture has these kind of normal people. So the people kind of sympathise with that. Yeah, or... ..Can see themselves part of this thing. Absolutely, it's saying to the people, "This could happen in your world." Hmm, hmm. Lotto himself is actually represented in that fresco. Oh, OK. I think that's almost like his signature. Looks like that. And he's looking at us. And he's got this haunted expression. He's almost saying, "Got the message?" I think, and for such a small chapel and with such a big... I like that big message. I think that's what he's saying. "Have you got the message?" 'He's an Italian artist with an Italian message, 'but Lotto's style owes a lot to the art of northern Europe. 'I love it!' Andrew's right. Lombardy often has more in common with northern Europe than Mediterranean south. Progressive and pragmatic, unlike the laidback southerners, the Lombards like to get things moving. And you don't have to look far for examples from every era. My favourite is located on the river Adda, one of the greatest arteries of Lombardy. It may not be a fresco, but I'm pretty sure Andrew will appreciate it. Andrew this is it, this is the bridge, this is it, we are here! Oh, look at the drop! It's unbelievable. Turn, turn right here. Here you've got a lot of industry and, and, and exchange. So this bridge was very, very important for the communication. It is amazing. Built in 1889, the San Michele bridge was much admired across Europe for its elegant design and cutting edge technology. It's simple, beautiful, and most importantly functional. Wow. It's enormous, isn't it? It looks so tiny from the top, now it is just so big. What I like is, when you see it in the river, it's like an eye staring into the 20th century. And this is what Lombardy is all about, you know, looking towards the future. They built this thing in two years. Two years?! In two years they built this thing. Their feet were definitely in Europe. These guys were there with everybody else with the Industrial Revolution and building and going forwards. They're kind of the dreamers, but they're also engineers. Bellisimo. Well, I think we've had enough wandering around. It's time to go into the beating heart, the capital of this region, Milan. Even the road that takes you there, the A8, expresses Lombardy's forward looking spirit. They say it's the first motorway in the history of roads. That's right, not the German, not the English, but the Italians built the first. North Italians. This was the first road, straight in a very Roman way and went through all these big fat towns and took you to Milan. This road is also very important at a symbolic level, for what a northern Italy wanted to represent in the earlier 20th century. Because throughout the 18th and 19th century, Italy was a byword for a country living in the past, going really nowhere. And then suddenly this road, this road said no, no, no, we're going somewhere and where are we going, we'