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Florence and Pisa: Matt’s Italian adventure

Matt answers your questions after a live broadcast from these two fabulous cities.
/ Source: TODAY

On day four of his trip around the world, Matt Lauer welcomed the “Today” show audience live from Pisa and later Florence, Italy. In the first half of the show, Matt took viewers through the magnificent Leaning Tower of Pisa, Miracle Square and the Baptistry. Matt then boarded a helicopter, flew over Tuscany and greeted everyone from the magical city of Florence. After a spectacular event, tackling the technical feat of broadcasting live from two different cities in one show, Matt took some time to answer some of your questions about his trip. Read some of his thoughts below, and don’t forget to send more questions tomorrow morning about Matt’s fifth and final destination.

Guy Mattia from Cranston, Rhode Island: I am flying to Italy today. What is the temperature there right now, and what is the forecast for the next two weeks? It was a beautiful day in both Pisa and Florence today — about 80 or 85 degrees and very sunny, as you could probably see from the show. As for the forecast, I am not sure what the next few weeks have in store, but it was great while we were there!

Deborah from Baltimore: What is the food like there?

Hi Deborah. I must tell you, this region is known for its food. And although I was not able to sample much of it, I am looking forward to a great meal in Florence before we leave tonight. Florence is really the capital of the Tuscan region, which in addition to being known for its food, is also known for its wine. In fact, the region is the home of Chianti, which I am sure we will enjoy with our dinner tonight! The food in Tuscany is amazing, and I will know more about it after my meal, but I can tell just in the short time that I have been here that there is no shortage of excellent cuisine.

Absolutely Joan. There is a video available of my trip. I am so glad you were as impressed by Victoria Falls as I was — wasn’t it beautiful? If you’d like to purchase a videocassette of this ‘Today’ show series, here is the information on how to do so:

Call: 1-800-420-2626 or write to:

NBC News

P.O. Box 2284

South Burlington, Vt. 05403

The cost is — $19.95 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Add sales tax where applicable. No COD.

I did climb the tower, and it was a really strange feeling. It is very disorienting, for a number of reasons. For one, you come from the bright sunshine outside into the darkness of the interior of the tower. The stairs are circular, on the inside, so there is very little light. And, of course, the stairs are “slanted” just like the tower — you are literally standing at a five degree angle as you are trying to get up the stairs. I went up to the second “ring” as they refer to it, and as I mentioned on the air, that was a real treat, because visitors are not allowed up the tower at this point as they work on that lean!

Actually, for these trips it has been made a bit easier for us, as the people we have been working with, for the most part, speak English. However, I am of the opinion that whenever you go to a foreign country, it helps to know a little bit of the language, and I am lucky that I can get by with some limited Italian! As for making Italy your first foreign destination, I highly reccommend it. Italy is so amazing, and is absolutely my favorite country in the world to visit. As you may know, I have been here on all three years of “Where in The World,” so this place definitely has special significance for the “Today” show and me!

Tom Demike from Okinawa, Japan: How do you get entry into the countries if you do not have advance notice?

Hi Tom! Well, even though I did not know where I was going tomorrow until the end of the show today, a few of our producers did. We closed the voting on April 14th — just for the reason that you are pointing out. It would be impossible to just “show up” in some of these places, so our folks have had a couple of weeks to plan for day five of our trip. And as you know, days one through four have been in the works for months. We have a great staff at “Today” that does a lot of work making sure all of the correct permissions, paperwork, etc. are in order. And they have done a terrific job.

Well Hiroyuki, I have to be honest with you, you are asking me that question at a time when I am exhausted, have had very little sleep, and have travelled 32,000 miles in a week! So right now I would say that I hope it is the last year, but I will also admit that I think I have felt this way every year upon my return, thinking I could never do this again. Then, six months go by, and we start getting excited about the next locations, and I forget how awful I felt at times like this! So the truth is I don’t know. But you make a good point — it is not always easy to come up with locations — so we will continue to have to work hard to outdo ourselves. Ultimately, I guess I would say ask me in six months, and then we’ll see how I feel. You never know, I think audiences might like to see “Where in the World is Katie Couric?”!