It was time to bid farewell to the coast of dreams , I had two days to get up to Pisa , my sister had made arrangements to fly in from the Uk to welcome Vic and I to the continent and spend some time together enjoying Tuscany . I fired up Vic now insured against the driving wrath of the Italians and the ever clear and present danger of those hire cars and mobile homes , we set off up the coastal road .
I had programed the GPS to avoid all toll’s and highways so we could stay as close as possible to the sea and follow the coast up to Pisa . The morning traffic bumper to bumper and this would not end until I left the coastal road just after Napoli . The road was so congested along this route that Victoria was sporting desert riding temperature changes , we decided to take a slightly more usable route up as we had spent almost two hours getting to the outskirts of Napoli , the home of pizza perfect , but the traffic disastrous like to many toppings on a pizza .
So with the GPS re programed we ended up on the Autostrade , another name for projectile travel , 4 lanes wide full of traffic and trucks , all trying to emulate the speed of sound , I thought only Tanzanian trucks could travel at those speeds , clearly not , these European truck drivers must have had some training in Africa . I made it up and through Rome , and yes it is true all and all too many roads lead to Rome , even with the GPS we lost and found ourselves too many times in and around this gladiator town .
I found the flight and fright ride on the autostrade exhausting , Just like in sport or anything really in life , practice makes perfect and being off the scooter for just short of ten days , I had lost my riding eye , it took some real adjusting to the speeds and traffic that surrounded Vic and I . We survived over a hundred and fifty kilometres on the autostrada , but almost did not survive the bill we got when we took the off ramp to the countryside . I was getting really tired after the long day on those busy roads , luckily the rural roads took us through beautiful country side much more our style , with slower speeds , less traffic and those curves and corners we have grown to love .
As the Italian summer season had come to an end the campsites and the majority of guest houses had decided to take a break and closed up for the winter , but we managed to find a spot hidden amongst trees and freshly ploughed fields , rustic and rural , just perfect . It felt great being off the scooter and after a hot shower I put my feet up enjoyed the setting sun , the peace and tranquillity of country life looking forward to a good pasta once the restaurant opened .
The waiter was absolutely fantastic , caring for the entire restaurant packed with Italians and of course me with the skill of a F1 pit team but without the team . I took my piping hot oven fresh bread , mopped up that golden gleaming olive oil mixed with the pitch black balsamic vinegar , followed by a delicious Ragu so simple yet flavours that made me close my eyes and dream of taking up utensils in this country kitchen and dedicating my life to the art of food and flavour.
Off to bed , with a singing belly , I still had a long ride to get to Pisa and I had decided that rural roads would be the path of choice going forward. The next morning after breakfast and a number of espressos it was time to head for Pisa. My choice confirmed to be the right one as the kilometres wound towards Pisa .
The roads took me past or through hill top towns , villages walled to protect , towers to sound the warnings , spirals and steeples to show standing , a way of life long changed but preserved in architecture and design . I was so enjoying these back roads , If I saw something interesting I would ride off my chosen path to go and investigate , so I came across a market day bursting with fresh produce from the surrounding areas , men dressed in camouflage and boots with half cocked shot guns slung over their backs strolling the streets , some successful with fury and fresh proof , others still in pursuit stopping at the local coffee bar for a shot of espresso and in most cases a drink not warm but one that leaves you warm . I hope these guys stay accurate after the bar visit and I don’t feel some buckshot finding its mark as Vic and I ride these mountain roads .
The roads out here is what scootering dreams are made of , sweeping bends , cut back corners , hill climbs , valley descents and in between all the road excitement the villages , espressos bars , unadulterated beauty and of course Vic and I . I have often found myself in a place while driving a car saying , damn I wish I was on my scooter and here I was on one of those roads with my wish being granted , so we rode and rode beaming , sweeping , leaning , the colours of autumn starting to emerge , with the matching , ever so slight chill in the air .
It was an amazing day on the road . Those long leans to the left , that sometimes end to suddenly , off to the right , then down to the valley floor , the throttle opens , Vic increases her speed lets her motor run free and then back into the mountains, climbing , leaning , curves and corners bringing a smile to my face and the chance for Victoria to use some of her side tread .
As we rode this beautiful countryside , the autumn colours blurring with the speed and light , I looked around with wonder , not just at the beauty , but with the realisation that we had made it all the way to Italy , I felt my eyes fill with tears of emotion , my body shook with a sense of both relief and grief , the journey almost complete , the road blurred in my tears , I reached down , turned the music up , full volume , adjusted my posture , eased the throttle open , heard the motor take up the challenge and off we sped to Pisa with a full and grateful heart . Seeing my sister just hours away , getting to Pontedera just days away , Yes what a great ride .
Until we meet again