VR. On the Road in Italy

Posted 8/12/2016

I planned to post this story August 1st or 2nd but things got delayed when I crashed the van. I was driving; the only person in the car, and the extent of the injuries to me were a broken nose. Lots of blood but not really serious. The van, however, took a major blow. Anyway, that’s another story.

This is actually Part Two of the story VS. A Trip of Non-Tragic Disasters. If you haven’t read that yet it would be a good idea to do so before reading this. This is not the full story of our travels but just the parts of interest to motorcyclists.

All photos in this blog page were taken by Dee Ritter.

From Florence to Gabicci Mare

Gabicci Mare is a small resort town near Rimini and the Mugello World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, which is where the World Ducati Weekend was held. I mentioned in the story VS. A Trip of Non-Tragic Disasters that we didn’t take the Autostrada but took Strade Statale 67 over the Passo del Muraglione. I showed a Mapquest satellite image of the road in Part One but didn’t have any photos from along the roadside.

In most of Italy we didn’t see a lot of motorcycles; the scooter is king. When we headed into the Tuscan hills that changed. Moto We got passed by several motorcycles and saw several going the other direction, like the one coming towards us here.

The Tuscan hills had many small towns to wander through. There was some agriculture along SS67 but most of it is forested. The buildings were a blend of newer stores and houses, but occasionally we would pass structures like this one, very old but still in use.

Tuscan old buildingAs we approached the pass SS67 became more and more twisty. At the Passo del Muraglione itself there was a wide spot in the road and a bunch of motorcycles. On one side of the road were the bar and a ristorante, in the center there was a place where people parked their bikes, and on the other side were some picnic tables in the shade of some pine trees. The bar at the pass We stopped for lunch as the bar also sold snack food, lunches and the like. It was the right time for getting me out of the van for a while, so we partially unloaded the cargo so I could exit.

The view from the tables

The view of the hills from the picnic tables at the pass.

Russ and I at the pass.Here’s a shot of Russ and me relaxing in the shade of the pines while eating lunch. Once we finished we had to load me back into the van and repack the luggage behind me. The ramp was quite steep and Russ had to push pretty hard. It’s a good thing he was with us; I never would have been able to get up the ramp under my own power. You can understand why I didn’t get unloaded very often.Russ pushes

The building at the pass has been there a long time and inside are framed shots of historic motorcycles and groups of motos through the years. The bar owner was quite a bike enthusiast — not only the historic photos but the door’s side-light widow was covered with stickers from bike clubs from all over Europe. Russ noticed right away that the man had a tattoo of the Isle of Man logo. Russ has one himself from his racing at the Manx GP at the Isle a few years ago.

The trip down the other side of the pass wasn’t as exciting in spite of the Inside the bar at the passhairpins you can see in Part One of the story. We got stuck behind a large truck for much of the way. Eventually we dropped out of the hills and near Forli we were back on the autostrada for the final leg of the trip to the Adriatic.

Gabicci Mare was quite fun. They were having “Pink Nights.” Basically it’s the celebration of a new year of vacationers coming to the Adriatic coast and spending money. I don’t know why the color pink was selected. You could buy pink hats, pink fans, pink flower leis, pink bunny ears, pink t-shirts.Pink

Gabicci Mare to Venice

After WDW we traveled north to Venice. The fast way to Venice is to take the Autostrada north-west to Bologna, then turn north-east on another Autostrada to Venice. It takes about 5 hours. We had plenty of time so again we ignored the fast route and headed due north through Ravenna and lots of small towns toward Venice.

We needed fuel so Russ pulled into a normal looking AGIP station. I stayed in the van during the refueling. I was beginning to wonder what was taking Dee and Russ so long when Russ returned and moved the van to a parking spot away from the pumps, and then disappeared again.

Photos along the ceilingIt turns out the station owner was a big MotoGP fan and had a lot of photos of himself with racers and crew members. Some are shots taken from various racetracks and a few are from the station. A bunch of them are enlarged and mounted and hung near the ceiling: Jerry Burgess, the late Marco Simoncelli, Alex de Angelis, Loris Capirossi , and others.

collageOn the wall is a collage of photos of him and famous racers old and new. Angel Nieto, Marc Marquez, Bradley Smith, Stefan Bradl, Colin Edwards, Andrea Dovizioso, Herve Poncharal (owner of the Tech 3 team), Jorge Lorenzo and many others. Oddly the ones of Marquez and Lorenzo have a big X drawn across them. Perhaps not so odd in the Land of Valentino Rossi.

Mind you this was in a gas station along the roadside. Can you imagine stopping at any random gas station in the U.S. and finding photos of MotoAmerica stars on the walls? Me neither. The AGIP station owner and Russ quickly became good pals.station owner

This page closes the story of our 2016 Italy trip. Parts of it was fun, parts of it were unpleasant. I don’t know when or even if we’ll be back to Italy, but if we go you’ll hear about it here.