Cape to cape and further

Richard is on the road for his major trip.

Destination: all the way..........


Italy on the motorbike.

Week 36 - 40, monday 26 August - sunday 29 September  2013.

After an eighteen hour boat ride from Patra, Greece I arrived in the early morning at Brindisi in Italy. I had made a reservation for a comfort seat and that’s why I was able to sleep a bit on the boat. The unloading took only twenty minutes and I was on the road at 08.30 in the morning. I did not really have a plan on what to do and the only thing I knew was that I had to be in Rome on the 16th of this month. On this day my good friend Sheila from Malaysia would arrive in Italy to spend ten days with me to visit some of the highlights in Italy. During the first stop I ordered coffee and it was clear that the coffee here in Italy was even better than the coffee in Greece. During the coffee break I had a look at the map and decided to go south along the coast.

I had ten days to visit the southern part of Italy, many friends had told me that Italy is one of the countries with millions of nice winding roads for motor bikers. The first day I drove only 70km and found a nice campground right there on the beach  where even two more Dutchies were staying there with their tent. After pitching up the tent I took a little nap to catch up on some sleep and afterwards I went for a walk in town. Santa Cesarea Teme is a lovely little town with only a couple of souvenir shops and some restaurants. Back at the campground I took the motorbike for a ride to the next town to see if I could find a supermarket to buy some groceries. I found a lovely little  town with many locals where I was able to buy at least a beer. In another shop I found a roadmap of Italy and only now I realized how big the country is. After an incredible night’s sleep I put everything back on the motorbike and had an early start. At 08.30 I was off again and headed further south, this ride brought me to a small coastal town  with many lovely views. I stopped a couple of times for a cup of coffee and knew that I would love to drink this coffee every day. The taste of Italian coffee is so pure and not like many other places where you sometimes have to search for the coffee flavor. After a long day on the motorbike and almost 300 kilometers of coastal roads I ended up at a camping in Rocco Imperiale Marina, a small place just south of Taranto. This camping was also located at the beach and I took off my street clothes  and went for a swim in the sea. It was a nice cool down after the entire day on the motorbike and sweating in my suit. After the swim I bought myself a beer and started to pitch up my tent and before I knew it, it was dark. The sunset is quite quickly here and within 30 minutes it’s dark. The camping owners gave me a table and a chair to use and so I was able to make myself comfortable and start to cook my dinner for the night, pasta with vegetables and tuna. Despite that it’s not busy at the camping I decided to stay one more night and to do some riding in the inlands of Calabria. Here I found fantastic roads to ride and without the both side panniers I felt like a bird, free to go. After about an hour I stopped to find out my way on the paper roadmap and while I was doing that I saw lots of motor bikers drinking coffee and beer at a small cafe. I decided that it was time to have a break and to order a coffee and what is better to do than with lots of other bikers around. When I was drinking my coffee one of the bikers, Ron, came to me for a chat. He asked me what my plans were for the day and I said that I usually do not make any plans, so he asked me if I would like to join his motor club which was going to do a tour. And so it happened that I joined the motor club called ‘Lucania Wolves’ for the tour with some breaks to drink beer. At the end of the day we went to a restaurant were we had an amazing dinner with more beer and wine. Drinking alcohol and riding a motorbike does not really match, but here in Italy it is almost not possible to keep those two separated. After this nice day I went back to the camping where I got half a liter of local brewed wine from another guest. I decided that I like the country and the way of living here in Italy. The near future would confirm my feelings for this country. The next day I packed the motorbike again and took off to the west coast of Italy where I would like to stay for another couple of days before heading north to meet Alissio. I got in contact with Alissio by a friend in Istanbul. Alissio would lend me some motor clothes for my friend Sheila for whom it would be her first time traveling on a motorbike. After a day of riding I ended up at the west coast but couldn’t find a campsite which I liked. I had to ride further north where I found a camping in Scario. A camping with only local people but with very friendly owners who gave me a nice place to stay for the night. I finally had found a camping with Wifi and that was for me a good reason to contact my sister again. It was really great to talk with my sister, brother in law and the kids. It was already a long time ago that I had contact with them. This night was the first night with a bit of rain and that was reason enough for me to stay one more day. I’m not that hard to convince if there is a nice atmosphere. On my way further north I experienced that more and more camping grounds were closed due to the end of the high season. In the end I ended up at a four star camping which would be open for another week. They had a swimming pool and I ended up there for three days. On my way to Rome I met more nice people who invited me for drinks and food which I accepted of course. Meeting Alissio was really nice he helped me with a place to stay and with sorting things out for the clothing for Sheila. On Monday I went to the airport to pick up Sheila, unfortunately her baggage had not arrived and we had to arrange for a proper way to get it. We gave the airport Alissio’s address and we went to his place. From here on we went to a hotel to get freshened up. In the evening we went with Alissio and his girlfriend Violetta to Rome to see Rome at night. Both Alissio and Violetta told us many things about everything we saw. Sheila and I made many nice pics and I have to admit that it was a really good choice to see Rome at night. The next day we went to Vatican City and spend some time there. We also walked around the city which is mainly surrounded by a wall. The next morning we finally got Sheila’s baggage and left strait away for San Galgano in Tuscany, where there is a sword in the stone, this is apparently the origins of the legend of King Arthur.  It turned out that Alissio had a meeting in the direction where we wanted to go so we drove this day together. He showed us many nice places and brought us to a friend’s place where we ate a pizza called capriciosa. It’s a pizza with different vegetables and an egg in the middle. When we arrived at the place where we would stay the night we met more friends and we had many good laughs and lots of good food. Alissio stayed there and we went the next morning to San Galgano, and thereafter towards Pisa where we visited the famous tower of Pisa and the Pisa Cathedral. We had planned to stay the night near Florence where we wanted to spend a day. According to Alissio it would be very expensive to stay in Florence so we found a nice hotel only 25 kilometers away from Florence. This evening we went out to get some dinner and ended up at a local pizzeria where there was a little party. We finished two bottles of wine and had a great time. The next morning Sheila had a bit of a hangover while I did not have any problems. Alcoholic ??? Florence is a fantastic city with many historic buildings and with many nice little restaurants and cafes. We visited the Santa Maria del Fiore, Fontana del Nettuno and many more, and we saw an imitation of the statue of David because the line into the museum where the original sculpture of David was was too long and I did not want to wait. Because of the high alcohol percentage of last night we decided against alcohol this night and ended up in bed early. Our plan to leave the next morning early didn’t work out that well but in the end we were on the way at 09.30 and that wasn’t bad at all. We had a long ride ahead because we wanted to find a place near Venice. When we were about 30 kilometers from Venice we started looking for a place for the night but my navigation gave us only old places that were no longer existing. In the end we found a really small B&B in Oriago, a little place 15 kilometers from Venice. The owner was very friendly and we got the biggest room of the three he had. Leaving early seems to be a bit of a problem for us because this morning we didn’t leave earlier that 11.00 to catch the ferry to Venice. First we couldn’t find the ferry and we were very lucky to catch it in time so that we didn’t have to wait for another hour. Venice is everything I have ever read about . Located in the water with many small alleys and lots of nice little restaurants. We visited many places like Saint Mark’s Basilica (with the famous 4 bronze horses), Piazza San Marco or Saint Mark’s Square, and a tour on the Grand Canal. We wanted to go to Accademia Art Gallery but unfortunately it was closed. And of course we took the Gondola for a ride in the little canals. (At first I was reluctant to go because it was expensive and I am cheap but luckily Sheila talked some sense into me (as always) and it was a good thing we went in the end). As is written in many books the Gondolier who gave us the boat ride did sing a love song for us. It was very romantic and definitely a recommendation  for everybody who is planning to go. Venice is a nice place to wander around in all the small alley ways, it is almost like a maze with so many twists and turns. We went back to our B&B for a good night of sleep. Now we had only two days left of our holiday together. We took a very scenic route along the east coast of Italy south to Rome. Riding in Toscany and Marche is a must for every motor rider. The roads are amazing, while not always in the best condition, and the views are fantastic. There are more trees in the mountains of Marche than in Toscany. So the views during the ride are better in Toscany but both areas are really really great for motor riding. After nine days together I brought Sheila on the tenth day back to the airport, on the way back to Alissio’s place I went to the BMW dealer in Rome to get some materials for doing a 10.000km service on the bike. In Alissio’s garage we changed the oil, oil filter and the air filter the same afternoon. In the evening we went into the little town of Grottaferrata, here was a little birthday party of the town going on with 20 minutes of fireworks at the end. This was a perfect last night before I headed south to Sicily.

Sicily is the biggest island of Italy with many many nice winding roads all over. With camping all around the beaches it’s a nice island for a camping tour. During my second day I drove on and around the Etna, The Etna is a huge volcano which isn’t active anymore. With a height of 1500 meters it’s visible from far away. I took a way up to 1200 meters with great views of the east coast of Sicily. Sicily isn’t cheap at all as you hear sometimes. I drove around the island in 7 days and finally took the ferry from Palermo to Tunis. A boat ride which would take about 11 hours.

I’m not exactly sure what to expect from Tunisia, so I will just let it come. In the next update I hope to tell you more about my adventure in Tunisia and the Sahara.

View of the Italian east-coast during one of my coffee breaks.
Oriolo at the east coast of Italy.
Italian landscape.
Coliseum in Rome.
Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican city.
During the ride up north with Sheila and Alissio.
San Galgano, Tuscany.
The leaning tower of Pisa and it’s Cathedral.
Can’t hold it.
Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence. To big to get on one photo.
Italian art in Florence.
Venice, the city of waterways.
More Venice.

Countries I have visited: