A nearly 3-hour journey, part of the Passport to Europe series seen on the Travel Channel, France & Italy is a collection of images and historical notes meant to educate, or perhaps encourage, those who might be planning a trip to the Old Continent. The journey is narrated by Samantha Brown, a smiley and always ready to shop tour guide, whose enthusiasm and energy are unquestionably contagious.
The disc I hold in my hands offers two sections, one for France and one for Italy, each with four subentries. In the French section you will find Cannes and Nice, the Paris Culture, Simply Paris, and Cote d'Azur (Monaco). Each fragment is narrated by Mrs. Brown as she walks us through notable areas one shouldn't miss while in France. From Champs-Elysees, to the Eiffel Tower, to the local produce market, to the lavish hotels and casinos of Monaco our guide is determined to unveil different sides from a country with a fascinating history. The occasional jokes Mrs. Brown sneaks in are also quite refreshing, occasionally more entertaining than the visuals.
The Italian section also presents four subentries: the Amalfi Coast, Florence, Naples, and Rome. As you could guess the approach here is quite similar as Mrs. Brown leads us from the Italian South to the heart of Rome. Focusing on food (as expected), vogue, architecture, and plenty of history our guide is often seen in the company of ordinary Italians willing to tell us about their lives.
So, the grand question here is how helpful is this DVD in revealing the charm of two countries whose appeal amongst American tourists is unquestionable?
I am certain different viewers will find different aspects of these series appealing - architecture, cuisine, fashion, shopping, there is a bit of everything here that should arouse your traveling appetite. The information provided is at times rather silly but for the most part helpful. To sum it all up if you need a good excuse to pack your bags and cross the Atlantic look no further this disc has plenty of them!
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 the picture quality for this Image Entertainment distributed disc is acceptable. In fact, it appears that a number of different sources have been used and for the most part one could instantaneously tell that the picture quality isn't consistent. The actual transfer isn't progressive but I was able to tolerate it regardless. Color and contrast are also acceptable even though during specific scenes both seem to notably fluctuate.
How Does the DVD Sound?
The DD English audio is as expected without any notable flaws. The voice of our narrator is easy to follow and I could not detect any disturbing audio drop-outs or hissing(s). There is nothing here that you should be concerned about.
There are no supplemental materials to be found on this disc.
An exciting journey to two of the Old Continent's most beautiful countries is what this DVD offers. The production is well-put together, mostly informative, and never dull, with other words, precisely what one needs when planning or simply wishing for an escape from the routine.