short trip to Tuscany !

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by mka, May 4, 2013.

  1. mka

    mka Been here awhile

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    part one

    I took this trip in april 2013, it was meant to be for at least a week but you know the story, some stuff just keeps getting in the way !

    The weather was no help either (I checked the forecast repeatedly thinking this might help the situation) but I would not be put off. I live in the wilds of Donegal in the north west of Ireland, so who am I to be complaining about the weather.

    I left home early on a sunday morning, 1 am early ! Drove down to the big smoke - known internationally as Dublin, got a flight to Milan, Italy.

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    As you can see no mention of a motorbike yet !

    Then I got bus into Milano Centrale and on to a train headed towards the Alps, Lake Como in particular.

    This is atarting to look like a long bloody story about a short bloody trip !

    Reason for this was to get my bike which I had stored in a friends garage on the lake. It would be a great place to kick off from if and when I could get away from rain sodden Ireland.

    I had to get a taxi from the train up to the garage - so far today I had been in cars, buses, trains, taxis and planes - all this just to sit on a bike ! dedication for sure.

    I got the bike out and got covers off, key in , and she fired first time !!! that is always the moment of trepidation, but she always fires first time !

    Time for introductions: 'she' is a suzuki v-strom 1000 2008 and i enclose a photo of her (i don't have any of her naked, sorry).

    [​IMG]


    ten minutes later i am off on my adventure..... more to follow
    #1
  2. mka

    mka Been here awhile

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    part two (i can only do this in snatches as i have short term memory !!)

    So I left the Varenna area around 2 pm (beautiful place on shores of Lake Como) in a blue haze of smoke and gathered some speed as I veered through the famous Mandello del Lario (home of the great Moto Guzzi !). It was damp and not too warm so I felt completely at home.

    My boots were cracked and looked about as waterproof as a paper bag but this was Italy - land of sunshie, and I was on my way south, so no problems there !

    Scooted on down through Lecco and Milan and south south south !! I was grinning like a cheshire cat and I would go till I could go no longer !

    It was cloudy and bright and showery and windy - just what I was used to.

    I stopped for coffee and refill a few times.

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    Eventually I could smell the sea. I was approaching La Spezia and had figured to stop here for the night but honest to God, it felt so good I kept her lit till at nearly 8 pm I thought I better get a room before it got too dark. I suppose I was fairly bucked anyway having been going since early morning.

    Just off the motorway and heading into Lucca I spied a hotel - mighty job - Hotel Napoleon (no it wasn't a small hotel, it was just the right size !)

    The man a reception was quite tall and once he saw my passport he started to tell me about his daughter (!) - not that way, it was just that she had moved to Dublin !
    I at first thought - these people are very friendly but I misinterpreted him entirely about his daughter. Anyway I eventually figured it all out ! He really missed her, I was beginning to miss her too ! But he gave me a big room for the price of a small room, Italians are the best !

    I was stiff next morning (usually I am) from all the riding and bloody hell it was wet outside, yaghoo !

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    So this is Lucca, walls gates etc. very nice. my main memory re. Lucca was in an episode of Top Gear where the three numpties have to figure a way out of the city.

    This is part of the road on the walls where James May gets stuck !

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    I did very little walking - afterall this was a bike trip nothing else could be tolerated and time was scarce.


    parked up in Lucca

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    part of fortress Lucca.

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    Enough messing around, this is a bike trip, away I go....!!! Next stop is........
    #2
  3. mka

    mka Been here awhile

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    I must have screwed up last edit so here goes again....

    She was blowing out blue smoke and starting to clear her lungs, it was 2 pm by now and I had the panniers full of mostly useless stuff you think you cant do without.

    I got underway and scooted through Mandello del Lario, the home of the great Moto Guzzi !

    On down towards Lecco and through the Milan motorway network.

    It was bright, cloudy, wet, dry, damp, sunny and even windy at times............!! But I was loving it !

    I had been driving, in a plane, on a bus, on a train and even had a taxi ride in 13 hours all so that I could put my ass on a bike and go.

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    I had to stop at times (frequently) for refills as I was being heavy on the throttle such was my hurry to get somewhere.

    Soon (several hours later) I got a whiff of the sea passing Genoa and had planned to stop for the night somewhere nearby.

    But I was loving it by now. So I had to keep going. Eventually commonsense and hunger spoke up. Next big town was Lucca.

    Pulled in just off the big road, at this time it was getting dark and I had been on the go since 1 am.

    Hotel was in sight, just go in get room, get washed and out to eat a scabby dog or even two if the mood takes me.

    But of course I should have remembered how friendly Italians are. In my experience they are the friendliest and kindest people anywhere.

    The man at reception desk on seeing my passport, started talking about his beautiful daughter, I only understood bits of his chatter !

    As it turned out his daughter had gone to live in Dublino and he missed her terribly. Hmmm.......!!! There was I thinking something else entirely !

    He kindly gave me a big room for the price of a little room and told me the best place in town for scabby dogs.

    I ate my fill and went to bed with a tired head, I dreamt of dreamy things and remembered very little of them in the morning...
    #3
  4. mka

    mka Been here awhile

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    Next Day.................!!!

    I awoke in a bed, with a sore head, the previous nights dinner having been washed down with vino rosso of great volumes, after all I had a thirst to slate and slate it I did !

    A few scabby dog burps and I was up and running.......downstairs for some coffee and ibuprofen.

    Mother of God but it was raining outside (well, it doesn't rain inside) - all that travel for more bloody rain !!

    Got going anyway, my true loves daddy wasn't to be seen so I just paid up and left heading in for Lucca's sights all of which would be viewed from my saddle. This was a bike holiday afterall.

    Lucca city entrance


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    a view of the saddle from which I would be viewing the sights.

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    city walls you can drive round

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    #4
  5. mka

    mka Been here awhile

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    I soon got going out of Lucca, no time to waste.

    The next stop I had in mind was to visit my old friend's birthplace. It was not too far and it was drying up nicely.

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    I blew my horn all the way through Massarella and headed on for one of the stops I had planned for.

    Now a famous town it used to be an ordinary everyday village surrounded by farms and fields, just like any old village in any old country........but not anymore.

    farms and fields below

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    This was the village called Vinci !!

    And here is the church where the great man was baptised.

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    #5
  6. CafeRacer99

    CafeRacer99 Been here awhile

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    It's beautiful there! Enjoying the report.
    #6
  7. mka

    mka Been here awhile

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    Thank you for the vote of confidence Caferacer99, it is my first time doing this.

    Gotta go now, it is my youngest's birthday party time and the wonderweb internet access keeps breaking down in this godforsaken backward country !

    More later

    Quick one of the christening font where Leonardo was christened.........Leonardo, I suppose !

    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. Dieselpwr

    Dieselpwr Been here awhile

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    We all understand that dedication. After a few months without riding, you get the itch that just needs to be scratched. And what a beautiful area to get back on the horse. Nice:clap
    #8
  9. mka

    mka Been here awhile

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    Left Vinci feeling on top of the world......my mind was settling to the road, the twists and turns felt more and more natural and I felt more a part of the moment.

    This is what I hope for always but don't always achieve, it keeps me chasing for just being in that moment !

    The road I took was a good one and it led me to San Gimignano and soon I could see it in the distance rising above the fields.

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    I know this is a story about biking so I need lots of bike pictures.

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    The reason for the daft 'ireland' sticker was really to get possible crazy Italian drivers to back off a bit if I wasn't just breaking the sound barrier but I couldn't believe
    the number of people who took pictures of the bike because of the bloody sticker !

    The tax disk is something we have to display in Ireland and many bikers place it
    near the registration plate so that it can obscure the plate and allow you to avoid speeding fines etc from all the speed cameras we have !

    Unfortunately on a previous trip to the Dolomite Alps I was pulled over by the Carabinieri who were not impressed by this at all, of course I asked them about a how to get to a particular pass and they warmed up and we had a great chat even though I can't speak Italian !

    This is a picture of one of the many vehicles that passed me ! I caught up with it at the walls of San Gimignano !

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    SG was a beautiful place. It is a tourist Mecca though so I was lucky in picking this time of year.

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    There is some sort of story that rival families built towers high to impress the neighbours and it got competitive. I feel for the family who lived between these two !

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    The following photo illustrates the proper display and use of road tax disks !

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    #9
  10. mka

    mka Been here awhile

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    Next stop after SG was to be Volterra !

    Looked good from the distance but I couldn't find it in myself to stop on such a good road.

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    The weather was now getting crappy - rain, some wind and not much of the tuscan sunshine but this city was incredible. my photos aren't much but i did my best.

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    This is a corner inside a building somewhere, nothing else I just liked it.

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    Parked at the city entrance where the hoardes get off big buses and stagger to the next photo op. Volterra is famous for amazing alabaster.

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    This was cool. It looked like chimney pots in the shape of popes from the past, not sure about this but I liked them !

    I know there are great writers on this forum, such as Tageszk (bad spelling, sorry) I have read every report about Italy I think, who may know the reason.

    [​IMG]

    Volterra looks like a great place to bring your romantic partner, the air seemed to drip of amore. All I had was a big silver/black 2 wheeled lump of metal !

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    On again, on again, jiggedy jig !

    I renewed my romantic interest in the bike and we rode on into the sunset (wind and rain !).

    This is a fmaous bridge, it looked cool to me anyway, I think it is called the devils bridge ?

    Ask not why, but revel in its simplicity..

    [​IMG]


    Maybe it was the devil's bridge cos after that the heavens opened and lightening spewed forth, thunder spew forth and the gods pissed down on me from on high !

    Exciting - that is an understatement. It was mega. I got wetter than it would be thought possible.....hours of it........hours and hours and hours....!!

    I even got off the bike a while as there was no road just where the road had been, in its place was 3 inches of water which sat atop the whole road. Aquaplaning is fun
    and has its place but, well, it has its place as I said !

    As the torrent eased off into a steady downpour, which actually felt much better, I got on again and did some cool aquaplaning down some twisty bits all the way towards
    Siena !

    I pulled into a garage in order to get the shaking (me, not the bike) under control. It seemed I must have been tired and hungry.

    [​IMG]

    Man, I was fed up by now. The coffee shop/store in the garage was closed as the lightening had put to power out, I couldn't get the gps to work for a similar reason
    and my mobile phone was acting the bollox too !!

    At least the kind man allowed me to stay under his ample roof for a while.

    As it was getting dark and I knew nothing about anything anymore, I did what the rest of you would do, I got back in the saddle !!

    And eventually, through the rain and spray I saw signs for Siena ! I said to myself (I often say things to myself) I would stop at the first hotel inside the city gates.

    And this, I duly did.

    I must have got the smallest bed in all the city, but did I care. Dried off, the usual stuff. Hair dryer on each hand to get the hands working again. Then hair dryer into the boots (that was a waste of time). I just peeled off layer after layer of wetness.

    got changed and out of hotel turned left to get to first available restaurant/cafe/eating house !

    Ordered fish risotto (I was way beyond being able to figure out what to choose at this stage) and it was grand. But there was a lot of very small octopuses in the rice, fine, I can cope with that, but, mother of God, I swear one of the tentacles was moving (or did it just slip off the rice - I'll never be really sure). So I speared it and kept going.

    I staggered back to the excuse for a bed and dreamt of slippery things with suckers and black shells and fins and watery things.....
    #10
  11. marty hill

    marty hill The Energizer Bunny

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    Beautiful, brings back wonderful memories of my trips in toscana. I also got a kick out of watching people taking pics of my florida plate from the US.
    #11
  12. mka

    mka Been here awhile

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    Siena......!!!

    Next Day, view from my bedroom with the tiny bed !

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    Big city too, I didn't know this !

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    To be honest, I had one thing on my mind (well, more than one, but not too many things) and that was to get away into the countryside.

    So I got out of hotel garage turned right and just kept going, no touristy stuff, no nothing - this was a bike ride !

    I stopped a few times on my way somewhere, I think I had intended to head for Cinque Terre, but my mind was on just being out there.

    The bike has a big ass really, and it was getting to be a dirty big ass too !

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    The thing is, I thought I had better make tracks back towards Lake Como so I cut out Cinque Terre and decided on Portofino.

    Up the road I go, happy almost as Larry and lo and behold, my panniers burst open ! never happened before but I had it full of stuff ! So I realised this quickly, pulled in
    and had to walk/run/glide back almost 3/4 of a km to pick up all my bits and pieces, including jeans with most all my money, my boarding pass for return flight, etc etc
    you geet the picture. Two kind men stopped to help me gather the stuff but I was lucky to get most of the important stuff.
    #12
  13. mka

    mka Been here awhile

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    I send my thanks to these two kind Italian men who were there just when I needed them. No fuss, no bother.

    So on to Portofino, I stopped there enough time to drink an aqua frizzante at seafront bar and take a few pictures.

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    these are just a few flowers sitting in a roundabout !

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    A most beautiful country in every way.


    So, I makle my way up past Genoa and then into the Milan rush hour traffic..........!!! Jaysus, it was bad.....!!!

    On up through Lecco again, it is getting wet and windy and I'm nearly out of petrol, but it's all tunnels so I keep going on fumes to Mandello del Lario, get filled up and on to
    Varenna.
    #13
  14. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

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    Waitin' fer mo' mo' mo' ... :*sip*


    Don't let this end yet, dear god. :ddog
    #14
  15. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

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    since you mentioned this is your inaugural RR, I offer a friendly reminder that pix of
    beer/likker/wine & food consumed along the way (ESPECIALLY IN ITALY! :evil ) are also appreciated, and are an integral part of every journey anyway... :deal
    #15
  16. mka

    mka Been here awhile

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    Thank you for your post. Foooood.....yes Italia has the best I do believe.

    Had mighty food in a place by the lake - really good !! Not sure if I am allowed to mention any places in particular but this was good, good, good !


    Dessert !! - because I'm worth it......!!!


    [​IMG]

    I bedded down in Mandello and got a right good sleep. I was going home tomorrow so good thoughts and bad thoughts and even some other thoughts too !

    Next morning I had to get a train ticket, not always in the most obvious place you would think. I went to the tabaccheria in Varenna, but they had none left, they
    sent me to a bar down the road, the Beretta, no they had none either so sent me to the travel agency who did - yahoo, job done !!


    I had stayed here (in Varenna) a few times before with the family and every day I used to go to the local little grocery, a brilliant shop that stocked just about everything
    (but no, no train tickets !)

    This little lady used to sit by the door in a tight spot which would require her to move in order for me or any one else to get in.

    Each day she was there and bit by bit it became esier for me to get into the shop.

    On the last morning she smiled at me and I knew then that the wall that was between us had fallen, it was wonderful !

    Just like years gone by she was still there, I was moved to see her, just where she always had been.

    I took her picture as a mark of respect to her and so that I have something to remember her by.

    After this she looked out at me and I could swear she smiled at me.

    Maybe it is just wishful thinking but I think she recognised me !

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    Now for a few arty farty , non biking photos to finish up.


    A small river with alpine waters, cold as a witches tit.

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    And the first truly clear sky this trip.

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    Then I did everything in reverse and got home to the north west of Ireland finally around 3:30 am and into work/school run for 8:30.

    This was a very short trip only a few days but I did ride about 1500 km, including all the wrong turns !

    The bike performed flawlessly as always. She is cleaned up and ready for my next foray sometime in the future.

    If I don't do these things I would be living in denial.

    And as my sister says - denial, it's a river you know...

    I go riding a lot here too, day trips etc but would like to maybe head to Scotland sometime soon..................the planning has already begun.


    Thank you for your patience and your time.


    Any advice on reports would be greatly appreciated so that I can do a better job in the future.


    Big Ciao.
    #16
  17. ricochetrider

    ricochetrider MotoMojo

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    Sweet.

    As for posting actual names of places you ate/stopped/slept/etc- AFAIK there are no "rules"... so fire away. Maybe someone else wants to check these places out. RRs are good for help with inspiring or planning a trip- cuz once someone says- hey this place is great- in whatever town/country/region, then maybe WE can stop there too.
    Just don't ever give us your name or we'll tell em YOU sent us... :lol3

    Then it'll be YOUR fault. :eek1

    Cheers.
    #17
  18. marty hill

    marty hill The Energizer Bunny

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    Post the names, it helps the rest of us.
    #18
  19. mka

    mka Been here awhile

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    Hey guys, thank you for the replies.

    The very best place to get something not too heavy to eat in lake Como is Caffe Varenna, in Varenna, right on the water. It is next door to a place Mr George
    Clooney (I like his style !) has been known to frequent (Vecchia Varenna).

    It's not just my opinion, when flying over from Ireland I was looking at their inflight magazine CARA, and it had a 6 page article about the lakes of northern Italy.

    They said it was the best place on all 6 lakes !!

    So, for devilment, I brought the magazine on my trip and it fell out on the autostrada too, but I got it back, and after eating there (and having paid) I showed them
    the article !! They were thrilled and wanted to give me more food, anything !

    For what it's worth, I have been in Italy at least 50 times and the Italians are the best nation of people I have met. They say the Irish are friendly (and we are) but
    the Italians are so good. Always welcoming, always tolerant, and they will never let you go hungry.

    I stayed a night in Albergo Grigna in Mandello del Lario. Great people too, the owner is big into hunting and does a bit of shooting (he comes to Ireland to shoot !!)
    Friendly, and their restaurant is very good.

    On the other side of the lake, mighty place is Villa Linda. Just south of Menaggio on the main drag round the lake, it is definitely worth stopping for.

    If you had time there is a powerful Agriturismo restaurant called Barcola, it is on the road from Menaggio to Porlezza, just a mile approx. beyond Croce on the right.
    You go down a narrow road but it is worth it. 4 or 5 courses plus wine coffee etc for 10 euro lunch !! excellent ! Sometimes you won't know what you are eating
    this I think is part of the experience.

    It is cool as you approach the restaurant there are rabbits, sheep, goats, geese, donkeys and all kinds in fields, cages and such ! As you leave with your belly full
    you may notice an empty hutch or cage !!!
    #19
  20. Luckybastard

    Luckybastard Adventurer

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    Love your writing style and great pictures too.
    It is amazing what a little adventure can do, even if it lasts for a few days :)

    If you ever come to Estonia the first cold one will be on me :freaky
    #20