Riding in Tuscany

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tagesk, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. TomatoCan

    TomatoCan Oh my goodness me.

    Mar 13, 2008
    Midcoast Maine
    Inspired. As always.
  2. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Jun 23, 2007
    Tuscany, Italy
    This is Part 5 of 7, in 8 installments. I advice you to start with first part.
    The text belonging to a photo will always be below it. All images are "clickable" and Italian
    words are shown cosi.


    If you move away from the beaches, you can not avoid being impressed by the murals.
    This one says
    In short: If God wants to demonstrate Paradise, I advice him to show us Sardegna.

    It is Friday 24. May (2013) and after yesterday's ride with Edel I am off all by myself.
    The goal are the central mountains. A dash on the highway north-east, and I exit in the middle
    of the island, climb into the hills, and start winding my way south. I'll continue riding until Garmin
    tells me to head home (in order to be home for apperitivo.

    You can get an overview from the track as recorded by my SPOT tracker.


    One thing implicit in a self-portrait is that there is no-one around. Or, if you like: I don't mind
    riding alone. Not that I mind very much riding with others, or having a pillion. I quite a few
    kms per year with Capa, and that is cool. But riding alone is, in many ways, even better.
    Thankfully we live in the era of political correctness: Everything is good, and indicating otherwise
    is not good. Everything is relative and every point of view is equal (just views things from a
    different angle).


    I'm in the center of Sardegna, riding north-east on the Autostrada, all by my self,
    fully absorbed by being where I am, on my bike, on my own. Just as I turn off the highway
    somewhat before Nuoro, my phone rings. A friend have a hard time and needs to let out some
    steam. I find a car, have a coffee (not "coffee") and act as safety valve for her. Isn't it nice
    that I can sit comfortably in a bar on Sardegna and talk to a friend? When I ride, distance
    is everything. At the same time technology removes distance. You got to love it!

    I am alone in the bar, in the village Sarule. The barista looks at me with that "four hours
    to go until I can go home"-look. In principle he leans of of the window while smoking.


    When my friend has said all that needs to be said at this point in her life, things that are obvious
    but don't become clear before they are said, I ride on. Basically she is suffering from to-somhet
    (and if you don't know what that Norwegian word means, you can find out in the previous

    Feeling good because I have been of help, even without doing anything in particular. Except
    sitting in a bar on (in?) Sardegna and listning.

    It is cold. It is hard to believe: 15 degrees (C) and dark grey cluods in mid-May. We've been
    here for more than a decade, and never experienced such cold. Spring in Toscana is
    not supposed to be like this.

    I stop by an alimentari. I need lunch. The store is an old-style husband-&-wife things.
    She makes me four panini -- un con pruciutto crodo, con cotto, un con peccorino dolce i
    finalmente un con pecorino stagionata. Due botiglette di acqua naturale, una mela e, se
    sono buone, due pommodori. Per cortesia.

    But also, by a friend I have been asked to verify that the dialect here contains the sound Ø.
    If you speak German you know the sound as Ö. If you are contrained within a more meagre
    language, think of the e in "heard" (hɝd). For the sake of completeness: Italian does not
    have it. Anyway, the couple are not native of the village, a passer-by gets drawn into the
    discussion. Before I can tell them to ignore the whole thing, at least ten people are
    crammed into the store talking about history, language, long dead relatives, and what not.
    After a while it becomes evident, even to me, that they have it. I'm flooded by words (that
    I don't understand), by everyone, to make the point. As new words are presented, long
    discussions arise on pronunciation, etymology, difference between dialects in the villages in
    the area, and so on. Most of it is done in strong dialects that I fail to understand. In the
    end it all ebbs out, life continues in the village, I pay six euros, and ride on.
    Even buying a panino becomes an event worth participating in.


    I ride and feel that I am true against myself. Learning to control the machine, to control the
    urge for speed and thrill, stay outside (if not exactly exercising), meet people. But if I am,
    does that makes me "un-true" against others? In particular Capa Superiore who probably
    would have liked if I had spent the day reading back at the house. She doesn't say so,
    but I think that would have made her happy.

    Imagine if she was here. "You are so quiet, what's on your mind?". "I'm trying to figure out
    if I am faithful to you.". How long would it take to restore calm on board? Too long; better
    keep thinking in solitude.


    The mountains here in central Sardegna are surprising desolated. Nothing here. Just
    the road that twists (and twists, and twists) along. I smile as I try to picture the
    engineers: "There are simply too many curves ahead - let's put up a 7km (5 miles) and be
    done with it!". My advice: Start in Olzai and ride south towards Tiana, Tonara and Belvi.
    If you like twisting roads, that is.

    I spend some time thinking about my friend who called this morning. Not having work to do,
    only "work", has some advantages. For example, I would not have been on this "vacation"
    if I had a job, would I? On the other hand, I don't need to worry about losing my "job" as
    you do if you have a job. Argh - if you have read the third part, you know that things were
    to change rapidly after my "vacation" on Sardegna, that I would get a job, and with
    it, the urge to take (real) vacation.

    It's actually quite cold.


    I arrive in Tonara, find a bar, park outside, and walk in. I'm used to being noticed, and
    here no less than other places. Probably even more. I drink my coffee (not "coffee"),
    have a small dolce, and some water. Not super nice or worth a visit, but nice. When
    I want to pay, the barman says that "that man", and points at the door where a man is
    just leaving, that man paid for your coffee!

    I don't get it, and there is some confusion. If there was anyone who hadn't noticed the
    large man, not only a stranger but obviously also a foreigner, it was made very clear that
    there was something going on. I got hold of the man exiting, and demanded an explanation.

    Finally, after much ado, the bar-man explains, while all the other guests nod their heads.
    When someone like you, Sir, arrive in our village, it is obvious that the only decent thing to
    do is to pay for your coffee. If he hadn't done it, someone else would have stepped up and
    done their duty. Guests are not to be overlooked and ignored. Guests are to be honored.

    It takes some time for me to grasp all this, but when I finally do, I get the barista to
    save the moment and the memory of the man. The man, probably a carpenter, looks
    uncomfortable and not at all pleased by being dragged into all this by me. I fail to understand
    why he insists that the barista hand him a bottle of beer before the photo is taken.

    I try to give him my card and say that if he sends me an SMS or email, I will be honored to
    send him the photo. He declines the card and says that he want's nothing, niente!, in
    return. Niente, he says several times, and leaves me stranded in the bar. All the
    other men looks content.

    The whole purpose of paying was to ride on. But how can I? To days a go (that is two
    installments ago) an old man (74 years, ten month and two days old - go back and read if
    you have forgotten!) wanted to buy me coffee. He was insisting, but I refused. Now I
    understand. I am flabbergasted.

    I happen to come from the richest country in the world, where a one-euro gift to a stranger
    would have been a no-brainer. But it here, in the rural parts of Sardegna I experience it.
    If the newspaper I was looking in had been two or three pages thicker, he would have been
    gone by the time I went to pay. Trying to wrap my brain around what I just experienced
    makes tears come to my eyes. I sit for a while and recompose my posture.

    Finally, I take my leave, after telling the barista that visiting his bar has made me happy.
    He doesn't seem to understand.


    Notice the "paper" painted on the wall.


    "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy", said Weinreich. On the "paper" painted on
    the wall, in the dialect which is a dialect because Sardegna does not have a proper navy,
    it says:

    In isolation, most of the words are recognisable, but the text doesn't make sense (to me).
    Feel free to assist!
    I am happy I have new rear tire; twisting roads is what Sardegna is all about. Not as
    impressive as Corsica, but damn good!
    The weather is improving, and I feel that I should be grateful.

    Suddenly, without warning, I crave for food; why so suddenly and without warning? I hate
    that. I want lunch to approach me with style and elegance. Tempt me, lure me away from
    what I am doing. Not give me orders.

    I find a place to stop, turn the bike unto a table, and enjoy my lunch. A good half hour in
    the forest. I send good wishes to the lady in the store who told me about the ø.


    I mount and start the inevitably search for coffee.

    Belvì is a nice village with a bar named Onano. Is it possible NOT to visit a bar named
    Italian bars are often new, in the glass - brass meaning of the word. Onano not so.
    Good old carpentry. Reminds more of what life is like north of the Alps. In my part of the
    woods, so to speak. And the acoustics are not awful as in steel - glass - brass bars.
    It all looks very Italian, with the typical old man from the village reading the paper.

    I take my after-lunch-coffee, and water. Talk with the barista. We're at about 800
    meters, he says, and they get snow every winter. Doesn't stay, but enough to give a
    feeling of winter. The town's main income is pension, and some tourists in summer. He concur
    in that the weather today isn't normal - far too cold for this time of the year.

    The old man slowly exits, with a walking cane. The paper is not the same I read this morning
    and I stay another ten minutes just to read the same news in different words. Trying to learn
    Italian, you know.

    The newspaper, as all information channels in Italy, carry very little news from the outside
    world. Italians can not hear the difference between an American, an Australian and a
    Scotsman. Simply because they have never heard English spoken by anyone but teachers.
    TV and cinema is dubbed, and this means that they don't really know that there is a world
    outside of their borders. They consider Spanish to be a foreign language. Yes, Spain has
    a navy which makes Spanish a language :-)


    When having a coffee (no "coffee" at Onano!) with a glass of water, the question is always:
    1 euro or 1.10? Unless you explicitly ask for tap water (which is OK, both culturally and
    health-vise), the water from a bottle adds to the price. So the correct thing is 1.10 but
    the usual is 1 euro. But here, at Ononi in Belvì, the price is ..... nothing.

    "The old may paid your coffee", says the barista. He starts tell me about Sardegnian
    hospitality and.... I am already euphoric. ...that all decent men will pay the coffee for a
    stranger... I laugh and jump around ....here in Sardegna... I can simply not believe
    my luck!

    Kennedy might have been a Hamburger, but Io sono un Sardo!.

    I am happy! The barista doesn't speak English, but I tell him in Italian, English and
    Norwegian about the importance of happiness, about the immense value of "paying forward",
    how I am very sensitive to the wrong things, how happy I am right now, and so on.
    These things far exceeds my Italian vocabulary (which is focused on food and wine) and
    I drag words on from all the languages I know.

    I probably don't make much sense.

    A friend of the barista drops by, and I have him photograph us. The old man has left
    and the barista will have to be the place holder for the ultimate hospitality: Anonymous
    gifts to strangers! I resemble a fool, no doubt, but I am happy. I'll take looking like a fool
    for happiness any day!



    I am glad I have ears, or else my smile would have gone all the way around and my head would
    have fallen off.

    But finally I thank them both, for everything and nothing. For enriching my life. No less.
    I start Tryggve, the sun is shining again, and I am as happy as I have ever been.


    Oh well, that was a lie.
    My happiest moment was when I, literally speaking, was allowed to be Il padrino for my
    grand child. I love being Godfather!
    But let us not get into that!
    Not now, at least.

    The names on Sardegna are different than on the mainland where I live. First, the
    saints didn't make it here. There are few Sant'Andrea, San Giuliano, San Lorenzo, San
    Quirico, San'Sepolcro and the others of which there are literally thousands. And the
    names have non-Italian pronunciation, like Belvì.n Ovodda, Teti, Austis, Atzara, Oruteri,
    Ulà Tirso (!), Smugheo, Pompu, Gonnosnò and so on. Maybe Sardo is a language
    even without a navy.

    Garmin, of course, handles all these ümlauts without grace. Garmin makes fantastic
    devices with crappy software. Everything I have ever seen from Garmin, besides their
    devices, have been crappy. Shit. From times long gone. Sorry, Garmin, but software is
    the new kid on the block.


    The sun is shining as it is supposed to at this time of year, and two stranges have made
    me happy. Deeply grateful. Can I ask for more?

    A moment later I'm hit with remorse. You get used to everything. Whatever is thrown at you,
    you will get used to it. It will "normalise". I know, I know, I should be "most" happy because
    I are so lucky as to be born during this time in history and in a place where I am free to do
    (more or less) as I like. In a global and historic context, that is unique! Or I should spend
    my energy being thankful for having ladies of all ages dressing up in their best for my
    birthday. And don't get me wrong, I am grateful for all that. But that two men buys me
    coffee (not "coffee") has put the world on its end.


    This utilitarianism can lead me astray. If no-one notices that I'm not doing my best, is it OK?
    If I am talented and can keep abreast without effort, is it OK not to put in an effort? Did
    they give God omnipresence to make sure we believed he could look under the blanket so
    we kept our hands on top of it? I have a nice time, and I think Capa Superiore also has a
    nice time, but I am fault by not having her here (where I am sure she would have had an
    even better time)?

    I pull over to emotionally enjoy that I don't physically enjoy a cigarillo.

    The valley is crossed by a (for Sardegna) large bridge. There must be an old road down
    there somewhere.
    I'm on my way!


    The old road is twisting narrow thing with gravel, and charming green grass demonstrating
    that not many takes this route. Even I understand how useful a bridge is, and that I would
    never have gotten Capa Superiore to ride with me down here. But this is the way to live.

    At the very bottom there isn't a river. Not even a stream. Let me be kind and call it a torrente.
    A creek.
    If the Earth is a mere six thousand years old, how could these few drops of water dig out
    a several hundred meters deep valley?


    After having passed the old bridge, and followed the "river" for a while, I spot a sign showing
    the way to the water itself. I turn off, and head down the path. It is supposed to be walked
    and not ridden, I think. It is steep, and in the middle of a curve there is water. And even
    though there isn't much, it is basically to late to stop, but there is sufficient water to hide a
    rock, and ..... down we go.


    To say the least my get-off was not elegant. But technically speaking it wasn't a fall.
    The rule is: If there was no separation, there was no fall. I chose to let the bike rest
    on it's side rather than risking a more dramatic outcome. OK?

    As I sit and watch the bike I am at the crux of mot having cigarillos at hand when I ride: Filled
    with adrenalin and the interesting mix of being thrilled and disappointed at once, it would
    have been impossible not to smoke.

    It was chilly this morning. Cold, in fact. But now it is warm, and I am sweating with all the
    gear I am wearing. In a moment of bad judgement I strip it all off, and lay down in the
    water to cool. To celebrate the fall, as it were. As I lie in the water, thinking about how
    this is my substitute for smoking, I realise two things at once: The first is that someone
    comes down the path, sees the bike on its side and a naked man in the stream they will
    surely call 112 (the number known as 911 to those Over There). The second is that
    contrasts makes life worth living: From high-velocity travel and low-velocity crashes to
    laying naked in the stream - all within 30 minutes.

    The first though, which quickly includes explaining to a pair of Carabinieri why I
    have no clothes on, makes em scramble out of the water, quickly towel, and get some
    gear back on. No portrait of this, for better or for worse.


    Tryggve has slept on his side for quite some while. OK, he was made by BMW in Berlin,
    and a nap doesn't harm him at all, but I say "You can't remain here, old fellow". I empty
    the panniers, and drag him back on his feet. We're on the "wrong" side of the stream, but
    riding back across I cunningly avoid the rock and it is all smooth sailing.
    If you want to take a skin-dip yourself, the position is N39.89558, E9.19261.
    Ride with prudence is my advice!

    The climb up back on the main road is significant, and gravel, but still nice. The view is
    very nice. I'm in en even better mood than when I rode down into the valley an hour or so


    Just outside the town Seulo I find a nice nuraghe. About 10 meters tall and hollow
    inside (as all proper nuraghi. This one, the sign says, was built between 1600 and
    1000 BC. It is staggering. At least the rocks that have been used are of a size it is not
    impossible to imagine humans could deal with. I've seen nuraghe where the rocks
    are round, impossible to manage, and still neatly placed on top of each other.

    I've found the (Internet) site Sardegna Cultura.
    Based on information there, I might be able to design a Nuraghe tour de force. A
    week on Sardegna, motorcycle, nuraghe, skin-dipping in streams, huge
    lunches and lavish dinners. Sounds like a winner to me. Watch this space for further
    info, as they say.

    It is five in the afternoon, and Garmin tells me that if I am to find time for a shower
    before aperitivo, I must start heading for home. I obey and enjoy two hours of
    non-stop riding.


    I've spend this Friday riding 388 km in all sorts of terrain. The day has not been wasted!

    You can enlarge the map by clicking on it, but as I've said before, the software from Garmin
    really, really sucks. For example: Where on the map is the large town Oristano? Or, in
    the upper right-hand corner we see four town in a row: Temo, Bosa, SUni and Sindia.
    One of them is ten times larger than the others, but that isnæt visible on the maps from
    Garmin and will come as a surprise. "Cry" is the word you are looking for.

    The trip is also available from SpotWalla in this map.
    There is a "pull-down" menu on the map titled Sardinia to assist you.

    Thank you for your attention!

    JG77 likes this.
  3. DrSmooth

    DrSmooth I am third

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thanks for the update! Beautiful written and superbly enjoyable as always. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
  4. canuk_guy

    canuk_guy Adventurer

    Jan 28, 2008
    Calgary Alberta Canada
    :clap Your thread was one of the first I started reading here on ADVrider and is still one of my favourites. I am happy to see your update, although I have to admit I am missing the pictures of meals and coffee (not coffee)!

    Cheers, canuk_guy
  5. OneOff

    OneOff Been here awhile

    Feb 15, 2009
    Exactly that!

    It was also one of the first I started reading, and one of only four I have kept notifications for...

    All power to you Tage, you keep me inspired. I have trouble regarding this as a ride report, more as lessons in love, life and deep thinking, and I'm always looking forward to the next instalment...

    If in the unlikely event you ever you find yourself in the wrong hemisphere "Mia casa è tua"

  6. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

    Jul 29, 2012
    west side of the pond
    Another fine, fine entry in my favorite thread! Thanks, Tage! As always, there is much food for thought in this episode. If one has tremendous ability but chooses not to exercise it, is he "bad," or doing something wrong? Should he feel as if he is wasting something precious or that he has a duty to himself, society, or a supreme being (or beings, as you will) that he is abrogating? Must such a choice even raise such questions? This is food for thought -- like being at the world's best buffet table and being told it's free and there are no limits. Think I'll go chew on this for awhile, then.

    Oh, almost forgot....I think Kennedy was a Berliner, no? Although I submit he was perhaps more hotdog than Hamburger! :D Also, I am slowly working on the inscription. This Sardo langue is tres etrange, non? Google trans thinks it detects Latin and gives more translated words than it does if you ask it to consider it Italian. A language that is a melange of that of every invader since 400 AD, perhaps. Fascinating problem. Merci.
  7. RatBikeRod

    RatBikeRod Intrepid Adventurer

    Oct 15, 2009
    Dallas, Texas
    I still need to figure out how to get a gig like yours here in the states.

    A always, very good read!
  8. azorat

    azorat grand Vizir

    Feb 17, 2007
    Trento - Italy
    I have contacted Carlo - a motorcycling friend who is from Sardegna (and now works in the Netherlands).
    I have sent him the link to the picture with the Sardinian words and hopefully he will send us a translation.
    By the way: Carlo replied that the writing is in the dialect from Nuoro. As everywhere in Italy, each city, town, community has a distinctive dialect, pronunciation, or "rhythm". It is quite easy to determine if a speaker is from Pisa or the speaker is from Napoli. That is obvious, even for the untrained ear.
    But, with a bit of training, one can also tell if a speaker grew up in Trento (my city) or in Rovereto (20 km South of Trento).

    Let's see if Carlo sends us a translation.
    Ciao to all.

    A. Zorat
  9. skuro

    skuro n00b

    Mar 25, 2015
    Hi all, Carlo here :-)

    Here's the translation, more or less to the letter (but I tried to englishise it to some extent):

    A couple of notes:

    - the original work of Bachis Sulis (http://barbagia.myblog.it/2012/05/18/poesia-in-limba-su-logu-iscuriadu-di-bachis-sulis/) reads quite different from what has been written on that wall, which mixes sentences from different parts of the poem. That makes it indeed not quite as flowing as the original text, and there are some inconsistencies ("a tot is oras chi nde necessitas chi m'azzis accollidu" doesn't really work anymore, as I noted in the translation)

    - there have been a couple of errors in the transcript here, namely

    "..a donz'umu.." -> "..a donz'unu.." (to every one)
    "..cum amore" -> "..cun amore.." (with love)
    "..aras.." -> "..oras.." (times)

    That's pretty much it. Hope you can now enjoy it better, and thank you so much for the great write up of your cruises in Sardinia, I will most definitely use the maps to do them myself!
  10. slowpoke69

    slowpoke69 Been here awhile

    Feb 2, 2010
    So. Jersey
    This was also one of my first RRs.

    Tage never fails to make me think, between the history, philosophy, geography, etc., it's like a very enjoyable lesson of sorts.:ear

    I like how they bought your coffee, you definitely don't get that 'over here'.

    Beautiful pictures as always, you make me want to travel more, see more, to experience life more. For that, I thank you.

    As always, grateful for the update, stay safe Tage.
  11. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

    Jul 29, 2012
    west side of the pond
    @skuro and azorat....thank you for the translation! I was never going to get it by myself! Sardegna looks awesome. I must go. Soon. Merci bien!
  12. bent forks

    bent forks Been here awhile

    Nov 20, 2008
  13. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

    Jul 29, 2012
    west side of the pond
    Tage, Tage, where for art thou Tage?
    You are in Italia in your garden with pizza in the oven
    We are famished for food of a different kind.

    All joking aside, hope all's well and that you're having an excellent summer!

    And of course.........just in case you ever run out of things to do......a few words perhaps? Crumbs? Morsels? Perhaps....dare we hope it...a slice?

  14. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Jun 23, 2007
    Tuscany, Italy
    Being reminded of an un-finished Ride Report, what a shame.
    As I toil at work (not "work"), I see a slither of hope.
    The last part is finished, it "just" needs to be typed in.

    And fear not: I will not forget your kind words!

  15. The Walrus

    The Walrus Gone and back again.

    Nov 9, 2003
    Freshly minted Millcreek
    Still looking to ride this region and since the AdvRider is changing, I want to post and bring this thread back to the forefront......:1drink
  16. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

    Jul 29, 2012
    west side of the pond
    Well, Tagesk, I am glad to see you have work to do that is not "work" and plenty of coffee, not "coffee", near to hand! Looking forward to the rest of the story, but of course hoping it will only be the end of a chapter and not the end of the book!
  17. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

    Sep 26, 2008
    north vancouver bc
  18. Jim K.

    Jim K. Long timer

    Jan 14, 2011
    New Haven, Ct.
    Mi capa is not terribly interested in motorcycles, but she reads your essays with interest. As a bibliotecaria she was especially pleased with the photo of the biblioteca with the murals. Both of us are certain that the time has come to publish! Put these essays into a book that we can pull down from the shelf & read often, instead of having to wait for your offerings online. When your entries do show up, they give us both as much joy as a free cup of Sardinian coffee.
    Blader54 likes this.
  19. robcig

    robcig Been here awhile

    May 28, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Professore come stai . Come è la vita e hai viaggiato per caso?

    Blader54 likes this.
  20. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

    Jul 29, 2012
    west side of the pond
    Tagesk! Best wishes for a brilliant Tuscan spring after your winter hibernation!! I can already imagine the aroma from your pizza oven as dinner draws near! Ciao!!