October 15, 2004 GMT
ITALY-Sept 2004

Italy is visually and culturally spectacular and the people are very gregarious, friendly and good fun. They drive like maniacs- they love riding right up behind you, overtake whenever and stick their noses out into the traffic so you either have to stop and let them out or hit them!!! Crazy, but they all do it and it seems to work!! It is definately the most expensive country that we have found in Meditteranean Europe.....mamamia!!! I cant believe we actually stayed for 6 weeks....mind you we are very slim now!! The food....pizza and spaghetti everywhere...we dont want to see either of them again for awhile. Overall, we had a fantastic time, met many wonderful people and saw some spectacular sights, so its a must see.

After Slovenia, we went to Padova to visit Beppe Trj, the webmaster for Super Tenere Club in Italy. Website is www.clubtenereitalia.com What a guy, he wrote to all his members telling them about us and asking people if they can help to contact us. What a great service and "Welcome to Italy" that was.

We rode the bike to Venice for the day. We got a day pass and hopped on and off the "vaporetti" (ferry) up and down the canals and walked around with our mouths open all day. Venice is extraordinary; exhausting day, but fantastic. We had lunch in Venice (big mistake). For one pizza and one coke the bill came to 20 (A$37-
7 was for the coke!!) We heard Venice was expensive and put that mega rip off down to experience and didnt spend another cent there.

Beppe Bonardi, the HU member for Marradi invited us to an Africa Twin Club meeting in his town as he wanted to use our Super Tenere as a BBQ!!! Marradi is an old stone town nestled in a mountain valley, where Beppe treated us to a fantastic lunch with many local dishes. We wish we had more time to spend there, but we raced off to meet our old friends Brian and Sandra Smith from Canada in Cinque Terre National Park.

The Cinque Terre National Park consists of 5 villages clinging to the seaside cliffs above the Meditteranean Sea. We had a wonderful few days walking the trails between the villages and everywhere you looked was a postcard shot- a definite must for any visit to Italy.

We couldnt resist visiting the Leaning tower of Pisa on our way into the Tuscan area of Central Italy. We flittered from village to village visiting towns like Siena, San Gimignano and Assisi. All hilltop fortressed stone towns, we never tire of riding the Super Tenere down their narrow cobblestone streets.

Francesco Campo, a member of the Super tenere Club invited us to stay at his home in Pescara for a few days. What a great host and guide Francesco was. One day was spent riding the Tuscan mountain roads between Pescara and Rome....bellisimo!! We are sure a long term friendship has come from this meeting.

Taking a short cut????through the centre of Rome with no city map at 5pm on Friday was definately not a good idea!!! The caos and traffic jams left us no desire to sight see Rome with the motorbike, so off we headed towards the dead Roman city of Pompeii and its killer volcano Vesuvius.

Pompeii was once a resort town for wealthy Romans, now buried under a layer of pumice stone during the eruption in AD79. It was an amazing insight into the lives of ancient Romans. Streets lined with shops and luxurious homes with the occassional body on display!! Magnificent paintings are still on the walls of many buildings depicting life in those old days. Pompeii was much larger than we thought, having a population near 100,000 people at its peak.

Due south, the Amalfi coast, a 50Km drive along the coastline with natural beauty of the sheer cliffs with clinging villages- dramatic and spectacular. Off season we could enjoy the curvy roads and breathtaking scenery without the traffic jams of August.

Down to the toe of Italy where the cities and people appear much poorer than further north. The drivers there are either doddling along or are rally drivers and in each case a danger to anyone on the road.

Crossing to Sicily by ferry we stopped in the small seaside village of Naxos, where, at night we could see the red hot lava flowing down Mount Etna volcano. (The largest and most active volcano in Europe) It seems a contradiction to have a snow capped peak and red hot flowing lava.

The next town we stopped in was Selinute, which overlooked the many ruined Greek Acropoli next to the sea. It was a marvel how they hoisted such huge rock blocks so high and to imagine the intensity of the earthquake that brought most of them down.

Erice was another hilltopped walled city over looking miles of rugged coastline, most of which we could see from our B and B bedroom window!!

On the ferry to Sardinia we met Tobias Kammerer from Germany. He travelled with us on his Triumph road bike for nearly a week. He loved the fact that he was using up a lot of side tread from his tires because of the curvy roads. The views were breathtaking and some stretches we decided to ride twice!!

Corsica roads and views were even more dramatic with many rough narrow roads being etched into the sides of the cliffs overlooking the sea. One evening we stayed in a ski resort with the lifts starting next to the front door.

A big thank you to GFTed from Super Tenere Club for his detailed notes and great ride roads in Italy and the islands. Website: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/xtz750/

We now have only a month left in Europe and will go back to Southern Spain to find somewhere to store the bike for 17 months for our next trip. Then off to Nova Scotia and Edmonton, Canada for Christmas with Pats family; then New Zealand with Pats children and then back to Cairns, Australia in March.

Posted by Patrick Peck at October 15, 2004 10:14 AM GMT
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