Visions of Italy: The Great Cities - Rome, Florence & Naples

Sat, 11/29/2008 - 2:00pm

Trevi Fountain in Rome, May 2007.

David Iliff, Wikipedia

The latest production of the acclaimed Visions aerial travel series soars over the rooftops of centuries-old villas and churches, Roman ruins, lush gardens, and the island playlands of Capri and Ischia. Stunning aerial views of Rome, Florence, Naples and their surrounding areas include previously unexplored sites and new perspectives of favorite destinations from past Visions of Italy specials that will leave even the most seasoned traveler in awe. Visions of Italy: The Great Cities – Rome, Florence & Naples airs Saturday, November 29 at 2 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11).

The Great Cities begins at the very center of Italian civilization in Rome, a city surrounded by its past and energized by its very urban inhabitants. Traveling along the Appian Way, the helicopter-mounted, high-definition camera sweeps across the 12-mile, stone Aurelian Wall and the famed Seven Hills of Rome, before lingering over the Campo de’ Fiori, where sidewalk cafes and markets reveal the heart of modern Rome. This is where Romans slow down, sip their espressos and savor the city’s street theater.

Following the flow of the Tiber River, the helicopter circles Isola Tiberina, the only island on the river that was originally settled by the Greeks. Across the river find Ponte Sant’Angelo, built by Emperor Hadrian so Romans could visit his final resting place. Less familiar to tourists is the Altar of Peace (Ara Pacis), constructed during a period of peace following the victories of Emperor Augustus.

Next, witness thousands of years of history from the sky over the Roman Forum, the ruins of the Temple to Julius Caesar, the House of the Vestal Virgins and the Domed Hall of Romulus. These new Visions sites complement favorite destinations like Vatican City, Castel Gandalfo, Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum – all accompanied by new historical narration, and regional and classical music to provide a fresh experience of the eternal city.  

From Rome to nearby Tivoli and Florence, originally named Florentia (meaning “flourishing”) by Julius Caesar, who founded the city in 59 BC in the fertile valley of the Arno River to celebrate the triumphs of Rome’s veteran soldiers. Many of Florence’s great treasures are found within her churches, and Visions captures the vastness and spectacular intricacies of these world-renowned structures. Enjoy the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, high on a hill overlooking Florence, and the late 13th century Basilica of Santa Croce, the burial place of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and Rossini. Often called “The Pantheon of Glories,” it is the largest Franciscan sanctuary in the world.

Other destinations include the breathtaking dome of Tempio Maggiore – one of Europe’s most beautiful synagogues – and the weathered and angular copper roof of Florence’s central market, Mercato Centrale, home to legendary Tuscan pastas, meats and cheeses.

From the stately beauty of Florence, The Great Cities jets to Naples, Italy’s busiest seaport and chief import/export center. Home to Limoncello liqueur and Lacryma Christi wine, Naples is well-known for its tomato-loving cuisine. The Duomo of Naples, the city’s main church dedicated to its patron saint, San Gennaro, houses a vial of the Saint’s blood. The most famous of several blood liquefaction ceremonies takes place on feast day, September 19, celebrated in the U.S. as an 11-day Italian-American street fair in New York’s Little Italy.

Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii and the islands of Ischia and Capri – the jewel of the Bay of Naples – conclude the latest Visions tour of Italy’s great cities.