Veteran cinematographer Stan Walsh explores some of Italy's most exotic islands in his new all-digital travel adventure production, Italy's Fabled Isles - Sicily, Capri, Elba.
"Down through history many conquering peoples sailed these waters - the Mediterranean's Tyrrhenian Sea," said Walsh, "from the Etruscans, Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, down through the Normans and even the Americans who landed on Sicily in World War II."
The California producer said a highlight of the travel documentary is a visit to Capri's beautiful Blue Grotto, where he followed in the wake of the late world adventurer Richard Halliburton. "Our boat shot through the same 'keyhole' where we discovered, like Halliburton, the same 'bottomless sky full of unearthly blue light.' It was, indeed, exhilarating."
The island of seductive Sicily, dominated by the two-mile high Mount Etna, one of the world's great active volcanoes, is the star of the film, Walsh said. "The incredible scenery, the ancient buildings, old towns and lively, joyful people make a heady and delightful brew."
Greek temples, Roman villas and hillside theaters are mute evidence of the rich cultures that flourished here. Agrigento's picturesque Valley of Temples reflect a simple Greek design.
Stones of early western Greek settlements found on today's farm lands reveal that Sicily was the 'garden island' of Magna Graecia, producing wheat, wine and honey "for the folks back home."
"For pure pleasure the Sicilian entertainment, music and delicious food are hard to beat," Walsh said. "We filmed a giant puppet show in Cefalu and afterward had a bite of their famed cannoli. One bite and you are automatically an honorary Sicilian."
Near Palermo, the capital, is the dramatic Monreale Cathedral, built by the Normans after they freed the island in the 11th century.
Little Elba, just off the Italian coast, is the small island where Napoleon was kept under brief house arrest before he returned to France in 1815 to retake power and, of course, meet his Waterloo.
Walsh also makes a brief stop in Sardinia, second only in size to Sicily. For centuries the island was ravaged by invaders, but now has become a prosperous tourist center where visitors are entertained with song and dance and enjoy a distinctive cuisine.