‘A feast for the eyes, the ears and the brain’ Daily Mail
‘A constant delight’ Financial Times
‘A romantic love letter to literature’ INews
‘Write Around the World’ sees actor, book and travel lover Richard E Grant journeying to places that have inspired writers across the centuries.
Over three episodes Richard visits some of the most spectacular locations in Italy, France and Spain brought to life by authors who lived and travelled there. Reading key passages from the books as he goes along, he learns about the lives and experiences of the writers, and through their eyes gains fresh insights into the culture and diversity of the regions and their distinctive and captivating landscapes.
Richard's journey across southern Italy begins in the bustling city of Naples where he attends the ceremony of the liquification of the blood of San Gennaro, described 150 years ago by Charles Dickens in 'Pictures From Italy'. Through the eyes of Elena Ferrante he visits the busy markets and fascist housing blocks on the edge of the city where much of the action in 'My Brilliant Friend' takes place, and lunches at the restaurant deemed to have the best pizza in Italy by Elizabeth Gilbert in 'Eat, Pray, Love'. Climbing Vesuvius he quotes from 'Naples '44' by Norman Lewis who recorded the volcano's most recent eruption nearly 60 years ago before heading to Pompeii whose final days were fictionalised in Robert Harris's eponymous novel. Further along the coast at the stunning resort of Positano he stays in the hotel that inspired Patricia Highsmith's Ripley before heading south to the Basilicata region to explore the city of Matera, once known as 'the shame of Italy' before its fortunes changed after the publication of Carlo Levi's classic 'Christ Stopped at Eboli'.
In southern France Richard recreates some of Robert Louis Stevenson's walk with a donkey across the Cevennes mountains, still one of France's most sparsely populated regions. Travelling south to Marseille, he takes a boat to the Chateau d'If, once one of France's most notorious prisons and the inspiration for Alexandre Dumas' great adventure story 'The Count of Monte Cristo'. In Antibes, he stays at the Hotel Eden Roc du Cap, where F Scott Fitzgerald set part of 'Tender is the Night'. Heading into the hills he visits Carol Drinkwater's olive farm, brought to life in her bestselling series of books, before ending his journey at Grasse, known as the world's 'perfume capital' and the setting for Patrick Süskind's 'Perfume'.
Richard's final journey begins in Granada where through the writings of Federico García Lorca he finds out more about the city's Moorish history and the brutal events of the Civil War. Reading Victoria Hislop's 'Return', he discovers that it wasn't until 2007 that Spain revised its policy of 'forgetting'. In the stunning mountain town of Ronda he visits one of the bullrings that inspired Ernest Hemingway's 'Death in the Afternoon' and finds the site where a bloody massacre took place during the civil war, fictionalised by Hemingway in 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'. In the remote Alpujarras mountains, Richard visits Chris Stewart at the farm which he brought to life in the bestselling series that began with 'Driving Over Lemons' and experiences some of the region's finest cooking described in the book 'Las Chimeneas'. Back on the coast he stops at the city of Almunecar where Laurie Lee ended his epic walk across Spain as described in 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning' before ending his travels in Marbella where J G Ballard set his satirical novel 'Cocaine Nights'.