Zig-zagging across Italy and the Alps

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by TracerRide, Jun 22, 2020.

  1. TracerRide

    TracerRide n00b

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    They say that “laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired”. Well, it seems that in my case all it took was a worldwide pandemic that kept everyone locked inside for months to gently nudge me into editing the videos from the trip I did last year across Italy and the Alps.

    I’ve been living for a few years now in Malta, a tiny little island in the middle of the Mediterranean so Italy is just next door, but strangely enough I had never been anywhere in southern Italy (except for Sicily). The perfect excuse then to saddle up and head over that way on the bike.

    I did a quick research for a few places in that area and I saw that I would end up somewhere on the East coast. Well, what then? I can’t go to Italy on the bike and miss out on the Amalfi Coast, can I? That meant heading north and back on the West side. To further delve into my curiosity, I had never been to San Marino either, so by now it was starting to be blatantly clear that I would be zig-zagging my way up north on the bike. And, as long as I’m up there in northern Italy, why not indulge in a spot of riding on twisty mountain roads, away from the heat and humidity I get all year round in Malta? Well, that was that then - the final point to check off my list on this trip would be the famous Route des Grandes Alpes.

    I didn’t have to many days off available, so I ended up doing just a little over 5000 kilometres in 11 days.
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    Enough beating around the bush, let me get straight to it:

    Day 1

    Viggianello (Italy).

    Any motorcycle trip out of Malta means doing a bit of island hopping to Sicily and then further on to Calabria in southern Italy. So first things first, I get up ridiculously early in the morning to catch my first ferry to Sicily. Nothing new about this, but I had to cross Sicily quickly so I would get to my destination later that evening, so I had to stick to the highway there and then catch another quick ferry to mainland Italy.

    One thing I didn’t manage to get used to whilst living in the middle of the Mediterranean: the heat and the humidity (that’s two things, then). And this is what I was trying to escape from on this trip, hence my race up north to the cool air of the mountains (albeit a winding one).

    Nothing major to report from this leg of the journey apart from hitting the 50.000 km mark on my bike. It’s been just a little over 3 years since I had it (at that time) and this momentous occasion occurred on the highway, so yet another reason to skip any form of celebration and keep riding.
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    Late in the afternoon I reached my destination for the day - the sleepy little town of Viggianello and my accommodation for the night is in the castle on top of the mountain. Apparently it dates back to Roman times and it’s run by a family as a hotel. The rooms are furnished with furniture that seems to be brought back from a few hundred years ago. Best case in point: the bed. My feet keep sticking out the end of it just a little bit and not because I’m a giant. I guess folks back then used to be smaller in size. I’ve noticed the same thing in other castles - you look at the knights’ armour and they are impressive, but don’t seem to go any higher than your shoulders.
    #1
  2. davide

    davide Been here awhile

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    Very cool, keep the videos coming! Grazie, amico!
    #2
  3. TracerRide

    TracerRide n00b

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    Thanks Davide!
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  4. TracerRide

    TracerRide n00b

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    Day 2

    Alberobello
    Salerno


    12 August - 480 km


    Time to get up early again as I have some distance to cover today too. Whilst I’m endlessly faffing around the bike the people in the room next to mine come up to me - a father and his 4/5 year old son. The little guy keeps checking out the bike, but the father is not that different either. They ask all the usual questions (where you’ve come from… where you’re headed). I tell them about Alberobello and that after this I’m not too sure: should I keep heading towards Vieste or come back west for the Amalfi Coast? Actually the latter I really don’t want to miss even though those tight twisty coastal roads are very likely to be full of traffic in the middle of the holiday season. My Italian neighbour smiles and couldn’t agree more, you really shouldn’t miss out on a ride in that area. Well, that settles it then, I seem to have a plan for today as well: I’ll head out to Alberobello and it’s famous traditional limestone huts with those pointy rooftops and then come back on the West coast so that I can start fresh on those fantastic coastal roads the next day. I have about 180 kilometres to go until I reach Alberobello in the province of Bari, Southern Italy.

    As I spent the night on top of the mountain, the way back down is again full of twisty roads. It doesn’t take too long though before I’m out in the sun and heat in the valleys and it’s like that pretty much all the way until I reach my first destination for the day. I park the bike somewhere in the shade, I try to leave as much gear as possible there and then head out into the scorching afternoon sun for a walk among these funny looking huts.
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    I remember the plan I made for myself this morning and start to look for some place to stay over night, somewhere as close as possible to Naples and the Amalfi Coast. I find something reasonable in Salerno and I’m back on the bike again. I have to cover another 200 kilometres or so.
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    I make it to Salerno late in the afternoon and as soon as I’m off the bike it hits me: the head and humidity I was trying so hard to get away from. I get into the elevator barely wide enough for one person and as it sloooooowly makes its way up to the 4th floor where I have booked my room for the night…It’s honestly like I’ve just walked into a sauna with all my motorcycle gear on. I get over it pretty quick though, do a quick clean up of myself, the clothes I’ve been wearing all day and head out into the city to grab something for dinner and find some secure parking for the bike. I didn’t feel entirely confident leaving it parked out on the street for the night.

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  5. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Adventurer

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    Yes!! Keep it up ;)
    #5
  6. TracerRide

    TracerRide n00b

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    @Stara Varos Thanks.

    I've just had a look at some of the trips you posted on your blog...really impressive!
    #6
  7. Stara Varos

    Stara Varos Adventurer

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    Thank you @TracerRide !
    Seems my effort to keep a blog, makes for some people a difference :-)
    For me is like keeping a track of my rides, plus i hope to inspire others.

    So, lets go back to your ride asap!

    See you on the road bro!

    (Ps: Malta is awesome, dont complain too much for the heat, haha!)
    #7
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  8. TracerRide

    TracerRide n00b

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    Vietri sul Mare | Amalfi | Positano | Gaeta | Terracina
    Frosinone


    13 August - 285 km

    The first thing on my mind this morning is to check up on the bike.

    My AirBnB host had told me that she also had a safe parking spot for my bike, but she did such a good job of giving me directions to it that I ended up in a public parking managed by the city just 800 meters from my apartment. I was glad to find out that this was also much cheaper (3 euors/night) compared to what my host had offered me (15 euros).

    No time to boast about my cheapness, I take my bags quickly to the bike and I’m on my way.
    It’s for good reason that I wanted to start the day fresh from here: these twisty coastal roads are just what you want when you’re out on the bike…even if traffic can be a bit busy sometimes. Just as I’m enjoying my ride more and more I come to an abrupt stop: a roadblock due to some cycling competition. Well, this can only mean that I have to go back the same way, which can’t be a bad thing.

    I leave the seaside and head a little further inland, towards Pompei and Naples. The GPS makes me go through both of them even though it’s something I would’ve rather avoided. After a couple of hours in stop and go traffic I zoom out on my GPS map and head back towards the sea.
    I aim for Gaeta and the choice is a good one, I’m back on twisty roads along the seaside. I follow the same recipe until I reach Terracina and it’s there that I start to think about where I’m going to spend the night. Tomorrow I’ll head north and east again so for this evening I book a room in Frosinone which is only 40 kilometres away.

    Even though it’s been the day with the least kilometres covered so far into this trip, it was by far the nicest one.

    #8
  9. oldbeer

    oldbeer Grandadventurer

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    Great videos and what looks like the perfect bike for that trip.
    Thanks for posting!
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  10. TracerRide

    TracerRide n00b

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    Thanks @oldbeer
    Sure is, it’s exactly the kind of thing I had in mind when I chose this bike - trips like this and my daily commute (I use the bike as my main means of transport).
    #10
  11. davide

    davide Been here awhile

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    Love the videos, I miss riding in my home country!
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  12. TracerRide

    TracerRide n00b

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    Italy is a fantastic country indeed.
    I'm really lucky to live just next door. :-)
    #12
  13. Tsin

    Tsin Adventurer

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    I'm also a happy owner of a Tracer 700. Great bike with lots of torque, super fun to ride, confortable and lightweight. Looking foward for your trip
    #13
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  14. TracerRide

    TracerRide n00b

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    Tavullia
    San Marino


    14 August - 505 km

    The main agenda points for today: cool air and twisty roads. The first one of those I’ve been searching for all long since I left Malta and today, as I’m getting further inland, the air starts to change too. It’s still about 30 degrees, not that much of a difference, but it’s enough to put an end to my moaning about the heat.
    I’m a bit concerned about something else now: the night before on the news they showed some bad weather up north in Italy: thunderstorms, extremely high winds that had pulled trees out of their roots…not very encouraging since it’s exactly where I’m headed. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. I can’t help to think that maybe it might also have something to do with all that complaining I’ve been doing lately…Karma, huh?
    The GPS keeps me off highways and only twisty back roads all the way back to the other side of the country.
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    My destination for tonight is a place I hadn’t been before: San Marino, one of Europe’s micro states. Its story goes back to that of all big Italian cities which used to be independent and fight one another for supremacy. Well, these folks kept their independence even today. I guess the only difference these days is they don’t really have anyone to fight with, their tiny state being perched high up on the mountain top. The views from the old fortress are stunning and you can see the Adriatic coast into the distance.
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    About 40 kilometres before I reach San Marino, I come across a quaint little village - Tavullia. I see flags with the Yamaha logo all over the place, a few trucks as well… I understand that one of the locals works for Yamaha and everyone seems to be really proud of it. They really respect the guy and call him dottore. Good thing I’ve got the right logo on my bike, I wouldn’t want to be chased out of town or something.
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  15. oldbeer

    oldbeer Grandadventurer

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    Nice editing... "kill the lights" as you go into the tunnel :) How long did it take to get that just right?
    Music was nice but would have liked to have heard the bike going up and down those hills.
    Thanks for posting!!
    #15
  16. TracerRide

    TracerRide n00b

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    @oldbeer That part didn’t take that long as “kill the lights” is the name of the song and it finishes on that.
    I would’ve liked to add some engine sound too, but there’s no way to do that with the built in mic on the gopro. It only picks up wind noise (a lot of it).
    I have the stock exhaust on the bike, so it’s not very loud (which is a good thing on a long trip). I guess I would’ve needed an external mic to pick up some bike sound.
    #16
  17. oldbeer

    oldbeer Grandadventurer

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    No worries, I'll just imagine it. :ricky
    #17
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