Saturday we slept in a little, as we were getting over the lack of sleep on the flights over, combined with jetlag. All was good anyway as it was a bit foggy and cool, so we took a little walk into town and purchased some supplies for the next few days, we stopped at the local department store to purchase some fresh tomatoes, romaine lettuce, peppers and other salad fixins. The store has a good selection of fresh vegetables, toys, kitchen supplies, and a large variety of sundries as well as a large book and magazine section, all in a building about 30 x 30 feet.
Then on to the Butcher shop, for some meat for dinner, the grocery store, for some sparkling water, and a fresh coffee cake for dessert, you can get almost anything you need in these three establishments, all the size of a typical American living room. After our shopping spree, it was time to stop at the bar, for our first cup of cappuccino, made like nowhere else but Italy, where true coffee drinker genuflect the coffee machines.
As the morning wore on the fog burned off so we grabbed the R1200GS that will be out wheels for the next two weeks. We loaded our cold and wet weather gear in the saddlebags, and I attached my tank bag and GPS. It is nice having the van to carry our clothes and extra gear, and not have to lug the bags up every night; in fact I hope I don’t have to open the saddlebags again, until we are ready to pack for home. By the time we geared up, the sky was blue and bright, with a few scattered puffy clouds gracing the hills. Temps were about 70 degrees, perfect riding weather.
We headed NE from the Villa, to avoid the towns as much as possible. I have to say every time I start telling myself some of the roads in the Smokies are comparable, I simply blow away that myth in the first 20 kM. All I can say is in just an afternoon, I am well on my way to another “FIX” of European riding.
I had spotted a couple of small roads that looked promising on my detailed Michelin maps that I plugged into the GPS, and headed for. As we turned off the main road onto the first one, we soon passed a group of four sport bikes were heading in the other direction, a good sign for sure. As we continued along the sport bikes kept coming along, so I knew I was found what I was looking for, I was not disappointed. As the road started to go up, and the shifter was notched down, the road soon became tight and twisty, just like I like them. Settling in on 2nd gear, with just an occasional foray into 1st and 3rd, will tell you just how nice this road was, the corners had a nice rhythm of endless linked tight S turns, that just kept unfolding in front of us. If there is a motorcyclists heaven, then these hills are surely filled with kindred spirits dancing to the rhythms of the roads. I will say that there are stretches of fun pavement in the states, but they usually only last five to ten minutes, if you are lucky. The first road took about 45 minutes to traverse, and about 20 minutes to get acclimated to the different handling characteristics of the GS, and for me to start getting comfortable and loose the feeling I was learning to ride all over again. It is funny how ingrained our actions get, that when placed on something just a little different, we can feel like a baby just learning to walk, and our seemingly automatic inputs take some thought, until we overwrite the gray matter, and all is balanced in the world again.
We made a turn to the North on another, wonderful twist deserted piece of pavement, over Passo Della Calla, then I turned back to the SW, on what appeared to be a fairly straight road, but instead was a delightful stretch of pavement, think NC 28, on steroids, and two to three times longer, the rhythm only interrupted by some sparse traffic. As we got close to the villa again, I took some narrow roads that weaved in and out of vineyards, groves and farms with tractors hauling grapes in crates, picked fresh, headed to be crushed and fermented into fine wine.
We were riding about four hours and only covered 190km, or about 115 miles, and I was riding hard enough to make sure there were no chicken strips and to take a little material off the centerstand, of the tall GS. I know this does not sound like many miles, but believe me we were running a good clip, and only stopped for fuel and a couple of times for a picture or two, and to stretch our legs.
We stopped and purchased a couple of bottles of wine to have with the dinner made from the mornings shopping trip. After whetting our pallets with a little Grappa, while the meal was cooking. Finished off the night sipping on some local white wine, while typing this.