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  • 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'