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  #1  
Old 29 Nov 2010
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A good long ride around Italy

Hi all,

I'm a long-time rider (40 years) but first-time poster on the HUBB. Please forgive me if I'm asking questions already answered elsewhere and gently point me in the right direction.

I'm hoping to spend at least a month travelling around la bella Italia by motorbike in 2011. I'm a New Zealander so sending my bike to the other side of the world and back is quite an expensive and tricky business. At this stage I'm hoping to start in Northern Italy in early September and work my way down the country, taking in some scenic roads, bike factories/museums, maybe a MotoGP or SBK race if possible, and the occasional duomo.

Hiring a bike for that length of time would be seriously expensive, so I'm wondering if there are workable alternatives. Perhaps a buy-back scheme? Or possibly even buying a second-hand bike to export to NZ at the end of the trip? Bikewise, I'm thinking maybe a Moto Guzzi Breva - something Italian, not too fast, not too slow, not too big, not too small and not too expensive.

I've got some good ideas about places to go from other posts, but any advice would be most welcome.

Thanks heaps (grazie mille).

Tim
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  #2  
Old 29 Nov 2010
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Depending on the duration of your trip, it could be worth to at least find out about the costs of shipping your own bike. For reference, in Apr 2008, I shipped from Sydney to Helsinki by sea one DL650, and payed something like 700 euros, and that includes the ridiculously high (almost 200 EUR!) port charges in Helsinki. The actual ocean freight was quite cheap. But it took around 2 months to arrive. And naturally you´d have to do the whole process again, when returning, and then you´d have the quarantine inspections and everything.... I think for just 1 month, maybe it is not the right option.
 
I don´t know about Italy, but in Germany used bikes are relatively cheap, and there´s a good selection, so buying should be an option, and I would think the paperwork side is do-able, too. Inside the EU you won´t even be stopped at most borders. What to do with it after the trip I dont know (and if you´ve only got 1 month, then remember you dont want to spend many days sorting these after your arrival, AND before your departure!!) Renting is possible, too, but that´ll cost you some serious money, unless you can find some older bike that someone wants to rent. Maybe in fact a buy/sellback option could be your best solution, if you can find a suitable seller?
 
Italy is probably my #1 favourite destination in Europe - I´ve been there almost every year since I started motorcycling. The last time was June 2010, when we went to Sicily with my girlfriend. The only real downside is, that Italy has become quite expensive, but the pros still outweigh the cons I think! And sorry I cannot think of any favourite destinations in the country right now, as there are just too many, scattered all over it! September should be a great time to go there, the big tourist crowds are gone, but it is still warm, and most accommodations will still be open.
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  #3  
Old 29 Nov 2010
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Hello Timothy.

Pecha is right, try to find some quotes for the shipment of your bike over Italy, I do believe it would cost you less than renting it here.

If you'll ever pass through my hometown, Mantova, PM me in advance and I'll pay you a with pleasure if I'll be home.

My town is this mantova - Cerca con Google=

It's in the north of the Country, just 25 km south of Lake Garda.


Quote:
Originally Posted by pecha72 View Post
September should be a great time to go there, the big tourist crowds are gone, but it is still warm, and most accommodations will still be open.

Absolutely correct!



See ya,

Nick
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  #4  
Old 29 Nov 2010
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Thanks Pecha. I might be able to extend my trip to almost 2 months so the shipping option might be viable. Though currently the only road-registered bike I have is a 1992 Kawasaki Zephyr 1100 which might not be the ideal vehicle (thirsty and a bit of a tank).

And thanks Nick. If this all comes together, I'll definitely try to catch up with you.

Lots to think about.
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  #5  
Old 30 Nov 2010
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Italy on a bike, you will love it. I spent 5 1/2 years in Europe a little while back and I visited Italy many times, both by car and by bike, Mk 1 LeMans. My advice is as follows.
1, Don't go in peak season, ie July/August. Two months either side is best.
2, Be prepared to up your riding tempo somewhat. Don't fight em, join em!
3, Anywhere in the mountains is brilliant. Do all the usual passes, Stelvio, etc.
4, Avoid the Autostradas wherever possible, boring and expensive.
5, I believe that registering a m/bike in Italy as a foreigner is VERY problematic. A friend of mine travelled there every summer for 15 years and he did not have his bikes registered in Italy. ( Switzerland, believe it or not)
6, Speaking of my friend John, he worked at a Moto restaurant "Pompone" as a chef. It's brilliant, these people are bike mad and you will love it there. Check them out at Pompone, il club della moto italiana: Aprilia, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Moto Morini, MV Agusta You really should visit, the food is superb as is most of Italy.
6, Bikes are relatively cheap and easy to register in the UK and only a days ride from Italy. Ok a big days ride, but doable, I know and have had the matching bruisers on my butt to prove it. Ahh, touring on an early LeMans, your all woosses on your big comfy GS's.
7, English is widely spoken in the north, but less so down south. Still not a problem though.
8, Just go, you will love it. It's easily my favourite country in Europe.

Cheers

Graeme.
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  #6  
Old 30 Nov 2010
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Thanks Graeme. All your advice seems very sound. Pompone sounds like fun. Yes, it does seem like buying a bike in the UK would be the simplest route. I think perhaps I'll concentrate on that option. And maybe I'll take 2 or 3 days to ride down to Italy. I'm not 20 any more - pains in my butt tend to detract from my enjoyment these days. :-)
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  #7  
Old 30 Nov 2010
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hi tim, you asked for places to go: one of my favorites are the roads around the grpo di sella in northern italy between bolzano and cortina d'ampezzo: there is a cirlcle of roads (perhaps 80-100km) around this mountain with 4 passes (3 of them over 2000m) and wonderful alpine scenery. so if you missed something, just take a second round . It coud easily be combined with the marmolada or the 'rosengarten' in the same area. unfortunately you have to drive quite a few km, if you want to ride the classics pso. stelvio (27??m) and pso gavia (~2600m). but if you're not in hurry, maybe a little detour via bolzano, 'Penser Joch' (~2200m), 'Jaufenpass' (~2100m) to meran would be fine, that's also a wonderful route. from meran to the beginning of stelvio i think it's about 60-70km. lake garda is nice, but the traffic on the road next to the lake was horrible (even in october) - I've been there only 3 times, but i'll avoid this street whenever it's possible. sardinia was also perfect for motorbikes - and for taking a bath in the sea , there are wonderful beaches. some of them can only be reached by boat or a long walk. if you will travelling by tent: during my trip many campsites on the island closed at end of semptember.
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  #8  
Old 30 Nov 2010
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I thouroughly concer with Gunne. Bassano is about a 1/2 hrs ride from San Vale Liberale where the MotoRestaurante is located. If you go there, try and time it with one of the pompone's (pompone is the name of the club centred at the restaurant, the word being concocted, if you like from the note that a Ducati makes) Marque weekend. Each year they have a Ducati, Laverda, Moto Guzzi etc themed weekend. Bielive me they are quite something. You will be amazed at what and who might just pop in.
Just down on the flat country, between Bassano and Venice there are a miriad of M/bike related emporiums. If you go say Sept/Oct, you will bag yourself the latest Italian motorcycle gear at knock down prices. Maurizio at Motoresaurante will point you in the right direction. Also down here you have both the Laverda and Aprilia factories. Speaking of factories, the Moto Guzzi museum tour is a must see. Mind things have changed a bit since I was last there. Aprilia have moved production elsewhere, so what remains I'm not at all sure. Do your homework first. None the less it's on the shores of Lake Como and worth going there for that reason alone. Although as Gunne has said, the traffic can be manic around any of the lakes.
If coming from the UK, you will inveriably pass through Switzerland. Be aware of a number of points. If you plan to travel on a toll road, you must first purchase a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly pass on entering the country. If you are SURE that you will use ONLY the secondary roads, then this pass is not necessary. DO NOT SPEED or break the law in any way in Switzerland, your eyes will water at the cost of the fine. Don't let this put you off going there, it is an amazing country. You just need to be for warned.

Let us know how you get on

Cheers

Graeme.
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  #9  
Old 1 Dec 2010
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Thanks Gunne. I'm a big fan of winding roads. Your alpine routes sound definitely worth checking out. And Sardinia's a definite possibility. I've seen photos and it looks great. I'll probably try to look for relatively inexpensive accommodation rather than taking a tent. I tend to think that a lighter load makes for a more pleasant ride.

And thanks again Graeme. I will definitely keep an eye on the Pompone website for any events they might have around September. And I will also check out the Moto Guzzi museum. And I'll watch my speed and probably stay off the toll roads.
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  #10  
Old 1 Dec 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunne View Post
lake garda is nice, but the traffic on the road next to the lake was horrible (even in october) -

It's true if it comes to weekends, but if Timothy rides this road from Monday thru Friday, he'll find at least 60-70% less of the traffic he may run across in the weekend.
I live only 25 minutes south of Lake Garda, and I've never had any problems riding there during the "working" days of the week, but on Saturday and Sunday it's really full of traffic due to the stunning landscape, as you say.


Timothy, if you come to Peschiera del Garda (southernmost point of the lake, see peschiera del garda - Cerca con Google), don't miss a visit to the bar "Due Ruote" (that means "Two Wheels" in English), it's the local hangout of motorcycle riders in the area (and of British / German / Austrian / Hungarian female tourists in the summer... ): I and my girlfriend always ride up to there on Sunday afternoons, full of bike riders to chat with (also from other European Countries), good classic Rock and Country music, excellent German and Italian / Mexican food + wine).
Plus, the bar is just opposite one of the nicest and largest camping areas of the lake, so no problem in riding your bike if you party there... you simply have to cross the street and you are at the gate!
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  #11  
Old 1 Dec 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knight of the Holy Graal View Post
Pecha is right, try to find some quotes for the shipment of your bike over Italy, I do believe it would cost you less than renting it here.
plus, if you think you're going to buy a cheap bike, just keep in mind that reselling it may be very hard, beside the fact that the registration can be problematic for a foreigner. I think that shipping your bike here is the best option, although you will be without your bike for some month
I agree with Nick, the Garda lake surroundings (and the Alps at the back) are one of the best places to take a ride here in Europe!
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  #12  
Old 1 Dec 2010
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The area around Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, close to the Swiss border, is also a heaven for bikers, and I would definitely stay at least a few nights there. If the weather favours you, you can make some unforgettable rides to the Alps from there, too.

Another all-time favourite for me is Costa Amalfi, south from Naples. That area also has lots and lots of things to do and see.
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  #13  
Old 2 Dec 2010
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Thanks to you all for being so helpful.

Thanks Nick ... if I get to Lake Garda (and it certainly sounds like an excellent idea), I'll put Due Ruote on my itinerary.

Thanks Max (with an x) ... I'm still considering all options when it comes to obtaining a bike to ride. The biggest problem with shipping the bike over there might not be the cost so much as the fact that my Kawasaki is a big heavy thirsty bus with not much power below 4000rpm and a seat that causes genuine pain after about an hour. I have other bikes but none is exactly suitable for the type of riding I'd like to do in Italy. I have a good friend in the UK, who has been there for several years, who might be able to help me register and insure a bike there. So that might not be too difficult.

And thanks again Pecha ... with all this agreement, the lake region is clearly going to be an essential part of my trip. And hopefully I might even make it to the Amalfi Coast.

Tim
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  #14  
Old 3 Dec 2010
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hi tim, it seems you also like the alpin roads . so if you start in the uk, maybe an interesting variant of going to italy is the 'route de grand alps' in the french part of the alps. the only thing: because this route is completly in france, italy will be already in the east - so if you can't wait to go to bella italia, you should take another road. but if it's ok to enter italy on its western boarder, you should think about this opion. it's a gorgeous route with very high passes and an impressive scenery. on my tours (the last was already a few years ago) it was well signed and it was easy to follow the right roads even without a map. because Greame mentioned alreay the toll roads: as far as i know, in switzeland exists only a yearly pass for the highways (~30€). but in austria you can choose between these daily/weekly/monthly/yearly tickets. if you plan going through swiss: speed limit on highways is 120 km/h and 80km/h on the secondary roads. although you often can pay with euro (especially in touristically regions), the swiss currency is 'Franken'. and as Graeme already told, fines seem to be extremly high - i red horror stories, that the police can even confiscate a car if you're not able to pay (...but i don't know if it's really true ) . another, completely different option if you start in uk and dont like to drive the whole way down to italy by your own (or if you're worried about pain in some parts of your body ): you can check out, if it's possible to do this by train. at least in germany are some routes (i think even to france and down to italy), where the distance is done at night while you sleep in the train and the car/bike is strapped to the same train. I took such a train this year from munich to hamburg in july, it cost me ~120€ for a couch and my bike. ...and i would do it angain instead of driving 800km on boring highways .
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Old 6 Dec 2010
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Thanks Gunne. The Route de Grand Alps looks brilliant. Worth a special trip itself. But I probably will be aiming to get to Italy as soon as possible, so I might have to avoid it this time. One of my aims on this trip is to improve my pitiful grasp of the Italian language as much as possible, so the more time I spend in Italy, getting lost and asking for direzioni, the better. Good information about toll roads and tickets. I'll definitely have to be careful. I think we have 2 or 3 toll roads in the whole of New Zealand, so they'll be a new hazard for me. But I'm certainly not keen on spending 15 hours on a "boring highway", so I might have a closer look at any train options that might exist.
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