Ferries between Italy and Sicily - any tips?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by MrsC_772, Aug 28, 2017.

  1. MrsC_772

    MrsC_772 n00b

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    Hi All,

    Firstly I feel a bit of a fraud joining an Adventure Rider forum – I'm very much a motorcycle tourist, not an adventure rider. (I like good tarmac roads, comfortable hotels with nice showers and aircon, relaxing with a beer and a nice dinner at the end of the day, not being up to my waist in mud and gravel, spending hours negotiating ghastly border crossings with corrupt bribe-demanding officials and fixers, sleeping in ditches/Mexican brothels/tents in blizzards, much as I enjoy reading about the adventures of those who favour the latter kind of trip). I love touring Europe solo on my Ducati Monster (3 trips from England to World Ducati Week at Misano and back, with various Alpine detours) and the UK and Isle of Man, when my husband joins me on his own bike. I discovered the ADV Rider forum when hooked on Antihero's Coast to Coast with an Italian Supermodel and Round the World With An Italian Supermodel trip reports (and now have an original portrait of my Monster painted by Dennis – Antihero - on my wall at home).

    I know the dates haven't yet been announced but I'm already starting to plan a WDW 2018 trip with a fellow Monsterista, involving a few days in Sicily (we're both Inspector Montalbano fans) before heading to Misano.

    Has anyone here taken a motorcycle on the ferries operated by GNV or Grimaldi between Genoa and Palermo, Palermo or Termini Imerese and Civitavecchia or Palermo and Livorno? (We'd thinking outbound from Genoa to Palermo, return crossing ports depending on which day ferries are running, to best coincide with arriving in time for WDW).

    I've taken my bike on cross Channel and Isle of Man ferries where the crew strap your bike down with a pad over the seat, but have no idea how well geared up Italy-Sicily ferries are for bikes. (I get the sense some of the Sicily ferries are primarily used by lorries, while others are a bit more tourist friendly).

    Any tips on ferries to, and riding round Sicily, gratefully received (beyond "avoid riding/driving in Palermo" and "Sicily is bigger than you think and getting anywhere takes longer than you'd expect").
    #1
  2. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    How hard can it be?

    My SiL is a great admirer of Sicily, and has visited many times - but by car or fly and public transport, you know buses and trains, the BiL is a bit of a trainaholic - so a bit of a dead end.
    She is also a big Inspector Montalbano fan.

    They always come back full of the joys of the place and its frustrations as far as those forms of transport are concerned.

    I can't imagine they will allow your Ducati to be damaged.

    Best of luck and have a great time.
    #2
  3. BOOTLACE

    BOOTLACE Bikie Scum.

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    Just get on a ferry.

    Easy peasy.
    #3
  4. Rudl

    Rudl Panthera tigris alpina

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    If you want a nice cabin, book ahead. Motorcycle spaces are usually not a concern, cabins might be (unless you want to share with the lorry drivers).

    They take motorcycles, so they have means to tie them down. If you are concerned about scratches, bring an old cloth.

    Enjoy, it's beautiful!
    #4
  5. MrsC_772

    MrsC_772 n00b

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    Thanks guys.

    I plan to book a cabin to share with my friend as soon as the ferry timetables are released and I know the exact dates I've got to travel (whichever is later). I don't want to sleep in an airline style chair for a 20 hour crossing when I've got to be awake enough to ride the next day. While I sometimes suspect that if the biking gods have messengers on earth, they are Italian truck drivers, having had some useful and/or morale boosting conversations with Italian truckers at motorway services on previous European tours, I don't really fancy sharing a cabin with them! (They might not want to put up with my snoring!)

    My Ducati is very much a workhorse not a show pony - you can tell I've done 64,500 miles (over 100,000km) in all weathers on it, and that I like riding it far more than washing it, so I'm not ultra-paranoid about scratches, unlike many Ducatisti. If the GNV and Grimaldi companies don't provide a pad for under the tie-down straps, I might use my jacket or a sweaty T-shirt from my laundry bag!
    #5
  6. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    For distance riding I found a sheepskin rug - the last from Ikea, IIRC - to be worth while. Not only keeps the nethers cooler, but it got used for a seat when picnicing. And the relevance to this thread - turned over, acts as a pad for the tiestrap. Without having to sift through your dirty laundry in full view of the Italian trucking fleet.
    #6
  7. GiorgioXT

    GiorgioXT Long timer

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    Never had problems , either or they give you straps and you tie down as you like (later they will check) or usually fix using easy strapping places like passenger pegs , pack frame or handlebar - Mind you that I always had enduro/dualsport bikes .

    GNV offer a very good service , also there are other good ferries from Naples to Catania (TTT Lines) or Salerno to Messina (Caronte)
    #7
  8. MrsC_772

    MrsC_772 n00b

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    Thanks GiorgioXT - just what I hoped to hear. If I had more time for the trip, I'd consider the shorter ferry crossings from Naples or Salerno, with a longer ride down through more of Italy first, but I've got to fit my entire adventure (including World Ducati Week) into 2 weeks off work.
    #8
  9. HighwayChile

    HighwayChile greetings from Wa state

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    next trip maybe head to Sardinia then to Corsica via ferry. Corsica is awesome for riding
    #9
  10. GiorgioXT

    GiorgioXT Long timer

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    100% True ... but for enjoing it just a little you need 2 days in Corsica and 3 in Sardinia.
    #10
  11. HighwayChile

    HighwayChile greetings from Wa state

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    I needed 2 weeks in Corsica :rofl
    #11
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  12. Johann

    Johann commuterus tankslapperus

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    Good move. I went from Portsmouth to St. Malo without a cabin I ended up sleeping on the floor as there was no way sleeping in the seats was possible. You can normally get cheaper cabins on the inside of the ship with no windows on most ships, it makes no difference if all you want is a place to sleep. I´m a cheapskate by nature but a good nights sleep is priceless.
    #12
    nickguzzi likes this.
  13. JethroDog

    JethroDog dogs bark

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    I've taken the midnight ferry from Livorno to Olbia (Sardinia) with just the basic fare a few Octobers ago. As usual, I didn't think very far in advance. Waiting to board, I was chatting with some seasoned motorcyclists that told me "just follow us". Motorcycles boarded first and we strapped them to the side down in the belly (basically a piece of rope). They raced up to the cafeteria (closed) and staked out cushioned seating. I stretched out on enough bench to call home for the night and slept like a baby. Lesson learned. The return one week later was just as comfortable.....and I needed a good night's sleep as it rained (and snowed briefly crossing the Mediterranean Alps) all the way back to Germany.
    #13