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What is the Grand Tour and where are Rob and Rylan visiting?

Simon Calder’s Travel

TV personality Rylan Clark and broadcast barrister Rob Rinder have joined on-screen forces to show their friendship and frolicks through Italy in the new BBC Two series Rob and Rylan’s Grand Tour.

The travel documentary has been a big hitter with fans since it aired on Sunday (12 May) as the two newly single stars – who share a divorce lawyer – journey as aristocrats-past to find enlightenment in sun-drenched Europe on their own Grand Tour.

Here’s where they headed and what they did – to inspire you to take your own Grand Tour.

What is the Grand Tour?

Billed as “the original package holiday”, the Grand Tour was a historic rite of passage that became the fashion for well-to-do Brits abroad in the 16th to 18th century.

Tourists, including Romantic poet Lord Byron who died 200 years ago, travelled the trail with other Grand Tourists, including young English aristocrats, leaving Britain’s high society to find freedom in Europe.

The coming-of-age ‘gap year’ custom usually crossed the English Channel into France before starting a route in Paris that lasted from several months to a year.

Often accompanied by a guide or tutor, lessons in art, culture, classical music and bad behaviour weaved through Italian cities, including Venice, Florence, Rome, Milan and Naples.

In 1789, the French Revolution marked the end of the nobleman’s pilgrimage – now being retraced by the TV duo.

Where did Rob and Rylan visit?


There’s a stylish stop in famed gondola ground, Venice (BBC/Rex TV/Zinc Media/Lana Salah)

For their own Grand Tour, the two kicked things off on gondolas and glitzy speed boats in Venice before drinking in the art history of one of the largest paintings on canvas in the world, Tintoretto‘s Il Paradiso oil work in Doge’s Palace. During their version of a now more hidden Venetian hedonism Rob and Rylan donned drag on the city’s famed Grand Canal, visited Venetian lagoon island Murano for lessons in the craft of glass-blowing and indulged in a classical education. The itinerary even included a bucket-list dream of Rinder’s – conducting The Four Seasons in Antonio Vivaldi’s home city.


The pair visited Michelangelo’s David in Renaissance Florence (BBC/Rex TV/Zinc Media/Lana Salah)

In the Italian city where “art changed the world”, Renaissance Florence introduced the pair…

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