Italy, the Alps, Sept 2019. Tell me about M/C Rentals, routes, lodging, eating.

Discussion in 'EMEA' started by IDRIDR, Jan 19, 2019.

  1. IDRIDR

    IDRIDR Take me to the River Supporter

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    Planning a trip to Italy for the first week of September, 2019, and have 6 to 7 days to ride. The Dolomites and Alps are calling me. Been to Europe once, many years ago, to parts north: Denmark, Netherlands, France. Italy is new. I'll be a solo rider unless someone wants to join in . . . that's an invitation . . . I'd like to meet up with a local or fellow traveller.

    Basing out of Florence before and after as my SO will be taking a course there for a week, so I'll get to ride as she's enjoying her holiday time. Thinking to take the rail from Florence to find a bike for rent in Milan or near the Alps. Rental suggestions?

    Thinking of starting in the Dolomites and working westerly. There's some of you here with local knowledge, and I'd like to hear of it. Hey, @nickguzzi , you're one of them. Calling you out as I've appreciated your posts.

    Let's hear about favorite bike rental shops, places to ride, eat, rest, see, and ride. Budget friendly is welcomed, but also want to visit a nice lodge with a view.

    Thanks!
    #1
  2. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    Trains in Italy are pretty good and certainly value for money. Last year we trained into Venice from Vicenza to save the parking difficulties.

    I have never rented - If I want a bike somewhere, I ride mine. I think this is the SOP for most in Europe. There is a place in Milan that gets a good rap. I know Agostinis in Mandelo de Lario used to do rentals. I used to ride over for parts and there was always someone who spoke English. I don't know if they still rent. Or if they rent anything other than guzzi's.
    MichaelJ is very knowledgeable about touring the Dolomites - has some routes too - and rentals and accommodation.


    As far as riding, I just tend to meander. A brief look on a map for the twisty and/or highest roads and see how it goes from there. The Italian Touring club prints excellent maps. Very high quality mapping, paper and printing. Could make a good souvenir afterwards.

    There are lots of gps based apps. I have been looking at Kurviger.de. OSM based, so mostly more accurate and better detail than the usual googlemaps. Biased to take the more twisty roads. The times I have used it, everything worked out well.

    Nowadays, Booking.com can provide accommodation on a day by day basis, and has properties out in the countryside as well as town and cities. Less noise unless they keep chickens, less hassle providing they signpost (mostly they do) and mostly better views.
    Agritourismo generlly good, but we found a real crap one last year.
    An excellent resource that has been revamped over the last couple of years is ViaMichelin. Excellent scalable mapping. Routing. Finding accommodation and restaurants, and not just their starred ones or ones they recommend. I have seen almost anything, down to pizza places mentioned, but the don't just list everything presumably some filtering goes on. Tap in a location and it will circle outwards on accommodation, restaurants and monuments etc.

    Florence can be a destination in itself. Sienna is my favourite, a bit more compact and less tourists - but you should be outside the school holidays so much quieter most everywhere (except Venice and maybe Florence) Pisa is a one trick pony, Lucca has always seemed more interesting to me.
    Arezzo has lots of art and the whole area butts up to the Appenines.
    We spent a fortnight in Citti di Castella, well a farm just outside. Great views and riding around in the hills, discovering little villages, feeling all desirous of beautiful isolated perched farms.
    [​IMG]
    Looks like about the time of year.
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  3. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer Supporter

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    Wise choice! I've rented from BiancoBlu in Milano a few times in the past and will probably do so again this year.

    Starting/ending in Milano, my preferred loop would look something like this (disclaimer - I'm a Pass Whore):

    Day 1 - North out of Milano along Lago di Como towards Chiavenna - depending on timing, the MotoGuzzi museum in Mandello del Lario on Como's east coast might be a possibility. From Chiavenna, take a right towards the Maloja Pass and into Switzerland (briefly). Head towards the Bernina Pass and into Livigno. Do an overnight here. About 210 km.

    Day 2 - From Livigno over the Eira and Foscagno passes and on to the Stelvio. It's highly overrated and a tourist trap to boot, but you know that you want to. Grab a Wurst at the top. Tradition. Down the other side for a long slog to Bolzano. This can be alleviated by going over the Palade and Mendola passes between Merano and Bolzano. On to the Great Dolomite Road (SS42) and over the Pordoi Pass into Arabba. I'd base here for about 3 nights. I like the Evaldo. About 280 km - a longish day in the saddle. I'd have an advance hotel reservation for this.

    Days 3, 4 & 5 - ride the area. More than enough stuff to keep you busy and occupied. I did 18 passes between lunch and dinner starting/ending in Arabba a few years ago. I have other character flaws as well.

    Day 6 - head back to Milano. My route would be back out SS42 and take the Manghen Pass and head towards Trento. South to Lago di Garda and go along the western edge of the lake (the eastern side is all small villages and trafficky). Stop at the Hotel Paradiso in Tremosine for a coffee and enjoy the view from their balcony. Cantilevered off the cliff 1,200' above the water. Lovely view. And the road up (the Strada delle Forra) is special, also. As much as I dislike Autostradae, I'd opt to take it from the southern end of Garda back to Milano. Lots of people in the Po valley and they're all in their cars.

    I'd actually seriously consider an overnight in Desenzano del Garda rather than bombing back to Milan - you wouldn't make it back before the rental agency closed, and you'd be spending the night in the city. Desenzano is a lovely town and a side trip to Sirmione would be well worth your time.

    I spent 4.5 years in this part of Italy with the USAF a few (cough) decades ago. There's a lot more people and traffic, but otherwise than that, it hasn't changed all that much.
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  4. Its not Ginger!

    Its not Ginger! Long timer

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    You cannot go wrong with the Dolomites, get the book "Motorcycle Journeys through the Alps and beyond" it has lots of great routes around the Dolomites, and the areas to the North, East, South and West.

    Michael knows the area a lot better than me as I have only been there a few times.

    I would spend a few nights in the Dolomites and stop in like Livigno for a couple of nights to loop around some of the other great Swiss / Italian passes - Tonale, Gavia, Stelvio, Fluella, Albula, Julia, Maloja, Splugen, Bernina, Umbrail and a few other lesser known ones, If you can take 3 nights in the Dolomites and 2 Nights in Livigno you could ride / see a heck of a lot, and the transit day from the Dolomites to Livigno would also be very nice.
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  5. rosmoe

    rosmoe Been here awhile

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    Can't go wrong following MichaelJ's advice. On day 6 do take the little road up to the Hotel Paradiso. The road is a real gem, stunning ! You might consider spending the nite at Limone on Lake Garda. You will ride right past it. Take the road lake side down to lake level, free motorcycle parking. If not for the nite, a good place for a break & a swim in the lake.
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  6. andydj31

    andydj31 In Techno we trust...

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    Here I'm!! If you want ride (and eat...) together let me know... I live near Venice an hour to the east, I can make you discover the best roads of Veneto and Friuli Dolomiti Alps and also taste the cuisine of the area that never hurts!!
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  7. richtidebruin

    richtidebruin Lurking since 2003..

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    If you are one who likes dirt as well as the street rides. KTM offers guided enduro tours outside of Florence in Mugello + several other locations. Google Ktm Adventure Tours. Could be a budget breaker, but when you factor in the nice hotel, bike rental and included meals, it really is very reasonable from a cost perspective. It was a great experience for me. Have done 2 of these. Besides that you get non-tourist type interaction with the locals which for me is a glimpse into the real Italy.
    #7
  8. IDRIDR

    IDRIDR Take me to the River Supporter

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    Thank you all for your input so far. Spent a bit of time this weekend going over your suggestions.

    Thanks for the recommendation.
    I've looked into a number of guided options and haven't found one that fits the available time and location. KTM does offer one tour that exactly fits my available time, a 5 Peaks Enduro in Bulgaria. With a flight from Italy to Bulgaria and rental bike, it's around $2K, which is similar or likely even less than what I'm expecting to pay already. This is something to consider...but I have had my mind set on the Dolomites.
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  9. IDRIDR

    IDRIDR Take me to the River Supporter

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    In addition to BiancoBlu, looking into other rental options.

    Has anyone used or have any insight into CIMT (Central Italy Motorcycle Tours) http://www.cimt.it/rental.htm
    or Mototouring https://www.mototouring.com/

    or any other rentals available from or near Milan?


    edit: after looking around here a bit, I found positive reviews of both. All three have been contacted....
    #9
  10. Ridercam

    Ridercam Been here awhile Supporter

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    I would consider going north and doing the northern Italy lake region, the Piedmont and Switzerland. Go do a 2 days in Venice. Stay three days at Lake Como. You will get the mountain pass rides you'd want, just a few hours north of Florence & have the relaxing days just hanging with your wife. Riding more than 150 miles in a day is a drag. You'll miss too much if you go beyond that. The weather in northern Italy and Switzerland at higher altitudes will be pleasant. It will be a roaster along the coast no matter where you go. Hot, humid, crowded and feeling grimey will make you miserable and tired.









    Oh if you are going to be in Florence, make sure you book your reservations now to see the David then. Hire a professional guide to give you insight to learn
    Florence.
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  11. krobison

    krobison Adventurer

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    I stayed in a small town in Tuscany called Gaiole in Chianti two years ago. It was mid-week and slower season and I decided to rent a Vespa. I showed up in the morning at opening and all the Vespas were booked out, with a steady stream of people heading out with smiling faces. Long story short, two hours later the gorgeous sunny skies turned dark and it poured rain for the rest of the day--a good day to not rent a Vespa :-)

    I talked with the manager and he said they normally have motorcycles as well, but rented all of them for that weekend's MotoGP at San Marino. Their main shop is in Firenze and they rent many different motorcycles there. Here's their info:

    New Tuscany Scooter Rental
    https://vesparental.eu/index.php/en/about-us
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  12. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer Supporter

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  13. IDRIDR

    IDRIDR Take me to the River Supporter

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    Michael,
    Thank you for the recommendations.
    I have Saturday night reserved in Livigno, then Sunday and Monday at Evaldo. Evaldo doesn't have Tuesday or Wednesday availability. A backup reservation at a more budget-oriented place from Sunday-Tuesday is made if I decide that taking another day here is due. Good stuff. I appreciate your posts on European rides.







    The Alps & Beyond, and several others, just arrived this week. Thanks for the list....I'll see what can be fit in!

    Duly noted. Thank you!

    Concept plans for now: pick up bike Saturday morning after taking the early train from Florence to Milan. Ride to Levigno for one night, then Arabba for 2 or 3 nights. Then.....not quite sure. Three to 4 nights up in the Alps could beckon a night or two in warmer climates if I'm feeling chilled, and if for no other reason than to get a taste of another plate...something different.

    My riding will be solo unless I happen to meet up with another rider.
    The lovely lady will be having her own vacation from Saturday to the next Saturday while I'm riding. We'll spend a few days prior in Venice and/or Florence (Th - Fr nights). Then after our solo vacations, five nights together south of Florence (Pompeii, Amalfi Coast).
    #13
  14. IDRIDR

    IDRIDR Take me to the River Supporter

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    Hotel reservations are in place for the first three to 4 of 7 nights of riding.

    Now...decisions...what bike? Inquiries have been made with three Milan rental sources (CIMT, BiachoBlu, Mototouring). Two replied back so far. Prices are fairly even. I'm probably leaning towards a BMW 1200 GS or similar. Leg room is wanted with a 34" inseam and 50-year old knees.


    Except this is interesting.....

    Would you have concerns with riding Mototouring's "Old Lady" class at nearly half as much as the current models? I'm assuming these bikes are older, higher mileage, and/or scuffed up. Should I expect they would otherwise be descent runners? I'm up to ride an older bike to save a few hundred dollars. I'd drag my KLR and a milk crate over if it was cheaper! (okay, maybe not, this is supposed to be a holiday)

    Link: https://www.mototouring.com/rental-category/rentals/class-old-ladies/


    Anyone have experience with Mototouring?
    #14
  15. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer Supporter

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    Ah - a youngster then! 28" inseam and 73 year old knees here.

    The GS is a great bike for the Alps - fairly nimble and lots of low end grunt, which is what you need. You'll rarely get out of 3rd in the hills, so top end is pretty much wasted.

    I've only heard one thing and that was 10 years or so ago - a couple of guys rented older bikes from them and weren't overly impressed with the tires and chains. As I recall, one of the bikes required service while on the road to keep it in the game. IIRC Mototouring covered their expenses, but still...

    As Reagan said, "Trust, but verify." They've been in business for a long time, so I can't think that they're doing anything too egregious. You'll be out for a week, so if you've got 1,500 miles of tread left, you're golden.
    #15
  16. bout2ride

    bout2ride Been here awhile Supporter

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    just this afternoon was thinking of returning to the alps & Italy, (my. favorite country in the world),,thank goodness I found this thread. thinking of doing sept & oct., been there 12 times & kept a vacation apt in mittenwald Germany for 5 yrs.....wanting to fly into Munich & get a r1200. gs for 2 months and do south to mittenwald, Innsbruck into Italy heading to Tuscany region for wine & food, god! in autumn, in the alps you experience the "champagne air", then drop into Florence for a day, town of Chianti for the wine festival in oct, (amazing wines for almost free, all day) then "hang" around Italy for 2-3 weeks then start the return to Munich via switz & Austria. return last week oct......I might refine it in the next few days but that was off the top of my head today. I tend to stick to the small towns/villages, the old culture. the food and wines thru all of those regions are amazing for the price. I'm done with the sites, castles, museums, cathedrals, now just want to ride the awesome scenery and revisit the food & wine. somewhere on the advrider forum I saw a thread about the cost of shipping your bike was almost equal of renting one???? would like to now more about apt, I love my "GS".
    I will try to update some specific towns and the reason to stop there in the next couple og days, but there is that "super bowl" coming up. :y0!
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  17. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer Supporter

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    If you're doing more than 3-4 weeks it's cheaper. Definitely cheaper if you're doing 2 months.

    Air Canada has an annual special. Fly yourself and your bike. Rates cheapest if you also fly with them. Another possibility is to ship with Stefan Knopf - he ships surface and has an annual shipment that leaves Orlando immediately after Bike Week. Stefan can also provide full services, storage, maintenance, B&B, whatever.

    Lots of other options, but those are the best that I know of regarding track record and happy customers. What you will need is a clean title to your bike (no liens) and purchase of Green Card insurance to cover the period that you'll be over there.
    #17
  18. bout2ride

    bout2ride Been here awhile Supporter

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    thank you sir......will check it out
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  19. IDRIDR

    IDRIDR Take me to the River Supporter

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    I understand this is the risk I'll take with an older bike. The 2012 R1200GS was just moved into the Old Ladies class over the last month or so. Mulling the options....

    Stumbled across the Kurviger app yesterday so will be playing with some routing alternatives.
    #19
  20. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    I have been looking at Kurviger over the last few months too. Using it in areas I know well it picks decent routes - not always the absolute best, but it is just a computer programme. Very useful when in places you know not at all - at least to get you started and off the main roads.
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