As we approached the customs booth before boarding the channel train, I couldn’t help but feel anxious this was after all my first trip to a non-English speaking country. We pulled up at the window and handed our passports through to the immigration officer, who casually thumbed the documents like he was looking for the winning ticket to tour Wonka's chocolate factory. Actually that is a lie, it was exactly the opposite level of enthusiasm that he showed as he carried out his daily chores. He stamps them and hands them back and casually asks ‘are you filming with that camera attached to your helmet?’
‘Yes, we’re filming a documentary for Australian television’ we lied, at which he proceeds to put on his best ‘only for television’ smile and waves us through.
It’s this casual un-expected interaction that makes travel so enjoyable and our three-week trip aboard a Honda VFR-800 to Mugello for the Moto GP race would provide many more opportunities for these types of memories.
This particular trip formed fairly spontaneously as at first, it was just going to be a trip to England, London mainly and airfares were booked with this in mind. It was only when the wife mentioned the possibility of getting to Europe for some part of the holiday that the idea of getting to Mugello for the Italian round of the Moto GP calendar popped into my head, from there the decision to travel by motorcycle was a no brainer. The only issue we had was that it only left us three days from the time we picked up the motorcycle until we had to get Mugello. ‘Easy’ I thought, it’s only 1600klm’s I’ve covered the 1200k’s to Philip Island in day. How wrong this turned out to be, with the roads being more crowded our average speed was far lower than I anticipated, and whilst we were cruising along at 150km/h, we kept stopping far more frequently than we normally would to enjoy the amazing sights that France and Italy had to offer, we also had to take into account the train trip that would take us under the English Channel and onto the continent itself.
London, England to Florence, Italy - 1598Klm's
Leaving London on the overland train at 7:00 am for the town of Brentwood in the east was a fairly simple affair only tarnished by the ungodly hour at which we had to rise, but none the less it had to be done. So it was that a taxi was hailed out the front of our hotel and luggage loaded in for the trip to Liverpool street station and we soon found ourselves settled in for the hour-long journey to collect our hire bike from Superbike Rental. Once we had done the mundane paperwork and worked out how to fit three weeks worth of clothes into one pannier each we were on our way, and it couldn’t have been more than a few miles before the GPS led us down into a Calder sac and suggested we take to the grass walking path that stretched out in front of us. We switched it off shortly thereafter and used the old fashioned method of reading our road map and following street signs. Once we’d hit the M20 we started to make pretty good time and knew we would be at Folkstone in plenty of time to grab a bite to eat, make our way through customs and board the Channel train to Calais where the real part of our adventure would begin.
Once on board the train, which is an experience in itself, I have to say and it was fantastic to be parked next to a bunch of English bike riders from Liverpool who was also heading to Mugello. We all sat with our bikes and chatted about them and the trip ahead. For these guys, this was no big deal and they informed me that they usually go to Assen, Le Mans and Mugello every year, I don’t think they appreciated the level of excitement that we had about going to our very first European GP nor the logistics involved in travelling halfway around the world to do so. As we sat on the train we realised we had no idea of what to program into the GPS and with no map we decided that we would tack onto the back of the group from Liverpool, who were going to ride to Leon for the first day.
Riding up along the station platform I was thankful for the group that was leading the way. Two reasons, I don't speak or read French so I couldn't read the signs for directions and two, I'd never ridden on the right-hand side of the road before. I was both excited and a little anxious at the same time because in a few day time I would get to see Valentino Rossi race in his home Moto GP race and anxious because I'd been having visions of vacantly wandering onto the left-hand side of the road and putting a serious dent in our holiday adventures.
I followed the group up the ramp onto an overpass arrangement and within minutes we were in the French countryside. These guys were clearly well versed in riding on the right-hand side of the road and the different traffic conditions that were presented to us in France, I was thankful to just be able to concentrate on the riding and enjoying the scenery, actually, I didn't really get to enjoy the scenery as these lads were bombing along at somewhere that was ranging from 'just over' to 'what speed limit'. It was a bit of fun but at this point, I would have preferred something a little more sedate whilst I settled into life in the right lane, our trusty VFR-800 and the fact that Rainey hadn't been on the back for a while was also playing out in my mind. After about half an hour we spotted a service station, waved them goodbye and bought ourselves a Michelin map of France. We realised when we programmed our GPS whilst on the train that the only destination we knew was Mugello some 1600 kilometres away and the GPS didn't know or care about any of the interesting little villages that we would be passing nearby on our way. Now with some sense of distance and with the time approaching 3 pm, we decided to set the GPS for Mont Blanc and whilst knowing we wouldn’t make it there today we just thought we’d ride until we’d had enough. We enjoyed the ride that afternoon although we were fairly tired with all the activity of the morning and the stress of riding in two foreign countries within the space of the last four hours, a concept that I was struggling to come to terms with given the huge distances that we cover in Australia. We reached the town of Laon at about 7 pm after covering just under 400klm's and decided this was as good a place as any to find a room and a pub and settle in for the evening. A local Ibis hotel with a pub right next door was chosen as it was cheap and er, had a pub right next door. We sat and pondered our next days travel plans over a couple of cold beers and after an average meal, we called it a day and headed for some well-earned sleep.
We made the decision to hit the road early and again were up at 6:00 am and on the road by seven after a decent breakfast of bacon & eggs. We’d travelled no more than a few kilometres when we saw the first World War 2 mass graveyard in our lives. It was quite distressing to see all these lives reduced to stark white crosses completely devoid of any insight into the short lives that many of these people had lived or the terror that they’d had been through. We moved on and started to make some good time as I settled into the feeling of riding two-up on a fully laden VFR800 on the wrong side of the road. We decided an early stop for lunch was in order and we found a roadside vendor selling ham and salad baguettes and with no common language skills a combination of hand gestures and pointing at things soon had us sat by the side of the road watching the Citroens roll by eating one of the best rolls we’d had in a while. We got moving again fairly quickly as we still had a fair distance to cover with our plans to be at the Italian border by the end of the day.
Afternoon stop time was in some little village off the main road where we found a nice little fruit and veg shop that also gave us some free French lessons in how to say Banana and Apple in the local dialect. In spite of the reputation for arrogance that the French seem to have, we found the opposite to be true especially in the smaller villages where a well-timed ‘Merci Be Coo’ seen our local hosts break into broad smiles. My advice would be to always go to the trouble of learning how to say hello, goodbye and thank you in the local language, it goes a long way and will more often than not see you the recipient of a little more hospitality than normal.
The roads from this point where spectacular, we were nearing the French alps and the roads were smooth and twisty and the scenery got more and more spectacular with each kilometre travelled and it wasn’t long before the 4810-metre summit of Mont Blanc was within view. I was really starting to enjoy the VFR now and on more than one occasion I received a pat on my hips, the universal pillion sign that translates to slow down, dickhead. We were about 10 kilometres from the entrance to Mont Blanc tunnel when we came across an almost deserted skiing village right at the foot of the enormous mountain itself. We decided to see if there was something available here and being the offseason it was no surprise that they welcomed us with open arms, we quickly unpacked the bike and set about finding a pub to wash the dust out of our throats. That first couple of beers went down a treat, it had been a long day on the bike covering around 700 kilometres, we found a local café for dinner and headed back to the hotel for an early night.
Waking in the morning I was jumping around like an excited toddler at Christmas, today was the day we would realise a dream of going to Italy and we would also arrive at our home for the next three nights on the outskirts of Florence in a small village by the name of Impruneta, all in preparation for our first ever European Moto GP race. After winding our way up the steep and twisty mountain pass we queued up at the toll booth to hand over a large number of beer coupons to allow us passage through the famous Mont Blanc tunnel. At eleven kilometres in length, the Mont Blanc tunnel is an amazing feat of engineering and I sat and ogled the exotic four-wheeled machinery around us whilst we waited to get through. From Porches to Ferraris and everything in between, clearly we were in an area that was a motoring enthusiast dream.
The tunnel seemed to go on forever and with no overtaking allowed it was a little frustrating at times but what a reward at the other end. With high mountains to our left and right, the tunnel exits a few hundred meters above valley floor but quickly winds its way down to the bottom. I looked around in awe of scenery that is quite unlike anything I have ever seen in my travels around Australia and for the first time in my life discovered what it’s really like to tour on a motorcycle, for the last twenty-five years it has always been about finding twisty roads and seeing how quickly I could get to the end of them. Here we found ourselves riding slower than I'd ever really ridden before just soaking up the amazing vista laid out ahead of us. With no real idea of the direction, we decided to stop and buy yet another Michelin map, this one of Italy of course. We sat outside in the sun and worked out our preferred route to Florence over a cup of coffee. This was to become a routine with each border that we crossed on our trip. When came out of the tunnel we where on one of Italy’s fine Autostradas, or freeways and completely surrounded by twisty road-covered mountains, we knew where we wanted to be. The GPS was telling us it was just under four hours and 550Klm's down the Autostrada to our destination, so we programmed it to avoid toll roads, after some quick calculations it told us our revised trip time would be fourteen hours, being 10:30 in the morning we realised we would need to compromise. We finished our coffees and jumped back on the bike and found our way back onto the Autostrada with the decision being that we would put a good few hours under our belt and then turn off and find some B roads for the last part of today’s travels.
It was blisteringly hot and we soon found ourselves belting along at 150km/h and stopping for fuel and water every hour or so, the VFR was as thirsty as we were once the tacho climbed a little higher up the gauge. We stopped for lunch at one of those horrid roadside diners that freeways around the world seem to have adopted as suitable for sending small towns and villages along the freeway route bankrupt. It was now about 1:30pm and we were around Milan and probably only about halfway to our final destination clearly the GPS was not accurate with its estimate and with our desire to be at our accommodation by three or four in the afternoon we decided to carry on down the Autostrada, we would have time to lament our poor planning of this part of the trip some other time. For now, we had to press on, we knew there was a shower waiting and I was quite sure a steak washed down with something cold and bubbly was on the agenda.
We arrived at the end of the Autostrada to be greeted with a toll charge of close to one hundred Euro’s, eek, This turned out to be money well spent though as it put us just south of Florence at about 3:30pm. With fuel light having been flashing for the last 50klms we were desperate to find a service station and you can imagine our horror at pulling up to one that appeared to be closed, fortunately it was only an appearance as it was an unmanned service station which as it turned was a bit tricky with all of the instructions in Italian and our vocabulary limited to 'Ciao'. We kinda fumbled around for a bit and watched someone else get fuel and finally got it sorted and hit the road for the last twenty minutes of our journey to our evening's accommodation in the small village of Impruneta.
We had pre-booked three nights in an old Italian olive farm and vineyard, products which they still produced. They had converted all of the old working buildings into self-contained apartments and they were quite sensational, perched at the top of a ridge they had views looking out over vine-covered valleys and the swimming pool made for a pleasant way to freshen up after the day's ride. As it was Saturday one of the first things I did was take advantage of the facilities free wi-fi connection and looked up the qualifying results for tomorrows Moto GP race. To my horror, I read the news that Valentino Rossi had had a fall and broken his leg and would take no further part in the event. When initially planning this trip it was all about watching Casey Stoner at a European GP but as time went on I got more and more excited at the prospect of seeing one of the greatest riders of all time at his home GP. Damn, looks like we’ll have to come back next year.
For dinner that evening we took the ten-minute walk by the idyllic roadside to the town square to find a nice restaurant. Truth be known I was looking for a pub, I was very thirsty and had an urge for a good pub meal. Well, being Italy this wasn’t going to happen, pubs as we know them simply don’t exist, they have bars or restaurants and quite frankly whilst I was excited I was feeling a little homesick, call me simple but a nice cold schooner and a rump steak are pretty close to heaven for me, or so I thought. We ended up finding a rooftop restaurant that overlooked the town square and to my absolute delight, I discovered that they did a one kilogram T-bone steak and not only did they sell beer in long neck bottles they actually encouraged you to buy the large size instead of the amateur sized stubbies. The night was fun as the waitress gave some quick tips on the local language and we were now well-armed with a few different greetings and compliments that as we were about to find out were worth their weight in gold.
We stood at the counter to pay our bill we were greeted in Italian by an older gentlemen who was quite clearly the owner of the establishment. As we struggled with the language barrier we managed to understand that he wanted to know how our meal was to which we replied ‘bonnisimo’. With this the man broke into a huge smile and threw his hand in the air and shouted ‘grappa’ grabbed a bottle full of a clear volatile looking liquid and two shot glasses and walked us into an empty room, slammed the bottle down on the table, shouted ‘drink’ gesticulating wildly as he did so, he turned and left the room. So we sat and poured some of the liquid into our glasses and drank, and volatile it was it stung your eyes as you raised your glass and stung your throat as it made its way down your gullet. We quickly poured another before our brain had a chance to talk some sort of sense into us. The walk home took us a little longer as we struggled to get our legs to do as instructed. Upon returning to our accommodation we met another Aussie couple from Adelaide and we sat and chatted about our travels and, emptied our minibars. It was a fantastic end to our first night in what can only be described as rural Italy high up in the hills overlooking the Tuscan region.
The excitement of today was incredible as we prepared to head off to Mugello for race day. We turned out our driveway and wound our way down the twisty, mist-covered hillside road and joined the queue of motorcycles headed down the Autostrada. It was quite incredible to see upon reaching the toll booths that they had opened up one lane for motorcycles only and waved us through, no toll required for us motorcyclist on our special day, only in Italy. After a couple of kilometres we turned off onto a small two-lane rural road and the traffic slowed dramatically. In the right-hand lane was a queue of almost stationary cars, the fields on both sides temporary car parks for the day. Down the centre was a queue of motorcycles that were moving slowly past the cars, in the left lane was yet another line of motorcycles moving more quickly. Along each side of the road there were pedestrians six abreast all on their way to Mecca, it was quite a sight. Even more amazing was the car that clearly had something else on that day and appeared in the distance heading in the opposite direction to masses, the bikes all just moved carefully to the side and the car just slid through. That’s what I was finding out about Italy, the place has a reputation for being a nation of lunatics on the road but the truth is they just work it out with very little signs of road rage, it’s almost like the road rules are more arbitrary in nature acting as more of a guide than anything else. Move that scenario to Australia and the road would have been designated one way for the event and there would have been cops posted every 300 metres thinking of ways they could creatively sell tickets to the Secret Policeman's Ball.
Once we arrived at the circuit itself we found a space among the thousands of motorcycles and stowed our helmets and jackets into the spacious luggage compartments on the bike and followed the crowd toward the gates. We'd booked tickets online and opted for grandstand seats on the main straight at the start-finish line. The crowd was thick and presented as a sea of yellow making its way down the winding road through campground to the spectator areas. The campground inhabitants, judging by the state of the place had clearly been drowning their sorrows at the thought of their home town hero laid up in the hospital with a broken leg. There wasn't much movement within the grounds and there were empty beer and wine bottles laid about like some sort of sacrificial offering, and as if you were really brave you could attempt to cure your hangover by indulging in a plate full of whatever it was left in the fly ravaged Paellas outside each tent.
We made our way up to our allocated seats and watched as the day unfolded. The first thing that takes some getting used to is the noise, not just the bikes but fans as they cheered and sang and screamed and blew their annoying plastic horns incessantly. After a while, it becomes the norm, and your ears adjust to the cacophony. The racing itself, it has to be said was a bit mundane with the feature race being a walk in the park for Danny Pedrosa, the guy we'd come to watch not racing at all and Aussie legend Casey Stoner struggling with the 2010 Ducati.
At the conclusion we headed out and sat on the bike in the traffic and slowly crept our way back towards Florence, the traffic cleared and the run up the hill to Impruneta was fun. We quickly showered and headed into the town square in search of pizza. We found a classic little pizza joint and bought ours to go, we sat on a stone wall in the town square with a couple of beers and ate our supreme pizza, well I think it was supreme. It tasted good considering it was, like many of our meals thus far, ordered with a series of nods and hand gestures. It was a balmy night and the local teenagers were out doing what teenagers back home do, smoking sneaky cigarettes and trying to impress members of the opposite sex in the hope maybe tonight will be their night.
Monday morning and we decide the easiest way to get into Florence for the day would be by bus, it left from 100 metres up the street from our accommodation and the twenty-minute journey would deposit us right in the middle of the beautiful city that is Florence. So we finish our coffee, grab the camera bag and take the short stroll to the bus stop and wait. Shortly after our arrival, the Adelaide crew that we'd met a couple of days earlier turned and advised that they too were heading into Florence. So we waited and chatted about our plans for day, these lucky sods were approaching the end of a three month trip around the continent. Our conversation was interrupted by a blaring siren and an ambulance came whizzing past shortly after with two paramedics in the front seat and teenage girl dressed in civies in the middle seat between them eating a slice of pizza... only in Italy.
After an uneventful bus ride, we disembarked in Florence, wished our Adelaidien friends a good day and wandered off in the opposite direction. We found an open-top bus tour, the likes you see in big cities all over the world and decided that it would be a great way to find our bearings. We boarded and headed upstairs to find a seat in the sunshine, shortly after as we traversed a tight twisty little street I said to Rainey 'We need to be out there' and quickly made our way down to the driver and asked to be let off. One of the great joys for me is getting lost in a foreign city, the unplanned days tend to be the most memorable. I don't know why but fun things seem to just happen, and so it was that we spent the day getting lost in Florence, eating and drinking our way from one side of town to the other.
It was mid-afternoon when we jumped back on to an open-top bus and continued our tour of the city.
We were totally worn out after walking lots of miles and headed back to the bus stop to catch a ride home. In what appeared to be an almost choreographed meeting our Adelaide neighbours rounded the corner and wandered over to the bus stop, we agreed that they should stop stalking us but we'd head out for dinner in Impruneta first.
Florence to Positano - 525Klm's
So we awoke to a slightly dusty feeling but it didn't take long to shake it, today we were heading to Positano on the Amalfi coast. The first struggle of the day, after making coffee was packing the bike. When you looked at our clothes scattered across the bed you' think there'd be no way of fitting them all on board the Honda but with some careful folding and a healthy dose sheer bloody-mindedness, we got the job done and climbed aboard our steed for the journey south. With a total distance to cover of around 520Klm's we decided the road to Positano for the most part would consist of bombing down the Autostrada, down past Rome and Naples. Once we got through the hordes of miscreants standing by the side of the road at the toll booths trying to sell trinkets to the passing motorists we followed the twisty winding roads into the Amalfi coast region.
It was spectacular as we carved through tiny little villages, raced BMW's along the roads carved out of the cliffside and dodged oncoming Mercs who were keen on following correct racing lines as opposed to road rules. It was bliss, the scenery was amazing, the lack of speed cameras and radar wielding cops only adding to the buzz. We carved along a nice old clip as we wound our way deeper into the Positano region, known as the vertical city. Our home for the next three nights would be the Positano Art Hotel Positea. We had booked three nights here in Positano and this would be the last of our pre-booked accommodation for the duration of our time in Europe. Clearly, we had to book for Mugello as we had to be close to the circuit and it was recommended we book Positano as it's almost impossible to just turn and find something, we're glad we did as we had a great room and a stellar view. We spent most of our time here wandering the streets and laneways, eating food and drinking beer.
We hired a boat for an hour the day after our arrival and it was amazing to see the city from the water, the laid back Italian attitude was amazing. There was no office just an attendant on the end of a small timber jetty with a beach umbrella and a table with a booking form weighed down by a large rock, we handed her cash for the hire and she held onto our passports as collateral, a process I wasn't totally comfortable with but it's just the way it was. When we enquired about where we could take the boat the lady just waived arms around and muttered something about 'wherever you like'. It was a rigid inflatable with a 50 Horse Yamaha outboard on the back, yee ha! Afterwards, we were sitting in the town square eating ice cream when we heard a familiar accent, the fella introduced himself as being from Perth. He'd just come back from a day at Ravello village set up on top of the escarpment some 25 kilometres east. We took his tip onboard and headed there for lunch the next day, it was incredibly warm and we broke our personal rules about protective clothing and rode in our T-Shirts and jeans for the 50-kilometre round trip. It was a charming little village and we just sat and soaked up the view, ate the most amazing beef salad and just enjoyed the sun on our backs.
The next day was earmarked for a visit to Pompei, a journey of just under 40klm's each way. We hit the road by about 9:00 am and the traffic was surprisingly light. We arrived at the entrance of the archaeological site and was scoping around for somewhere safe to park when we heard someone shouting and gesticulating wildly. We took her lead and headed over to makeshift stall that specialised in genuine hand made Chinese sourced Italian souvenirs, where she dutifully informed us that if we paid her five Euro's she'd look after our bike and our gear. The fella quietly standing next to her with his tattooed arms crossed led us to believe it was a great idea. Pompeii itself was interesting and you can only imagine the terror of the citizens as nearby Mount Vesuvius proceeded to bury the cities occupants alive. We didn't do a tour, much preferring to go at our own pace and explore the city but if I were to do it again I would get one of those self-guided audio tour devices.
Upon returning to our bike, we dutifully paid the lady and headed back to Positano for our last night in this incredible city. We spent the evening looking at the map and working where we going to go tomorrow. We were now 8 nights into our 21-night journey, we knew we needed to head north but that's all we had. After much debate, we decided to head for the holy city of Assisi.
Positano to Assisi - 488Klm's
Leaving Positano at a fairly leisurely hour we slowly wound our way East along the Amalfi coast stopping for a quick refuel along the way. We'd already eaten breakfast at the hotel and we're keen to put some distance behind as early on. We were old hands at re-fuelling now but one thing that had us worried the first few times was working out which pump to use lest we should fill the tank full of diesel. Avoid the black-handled pumps people. We'd programmed the GPS with waypoints that would keep us off the main road and take us into the smaller towns and villages along the way. This we thought was a great idea until we arrived at our first waypoint, the city of Benevento. The maps on our navigation unit were clearly not up to date and it kept trying to send us the wrong way down a one-way street. We ended up having to ignore the thing and just head north until we were out of the city and could continue along our merry way, cost us a bit of time though.
We arrived at a small village about an hour later and decided it was time for coffee. There was a bunch of old Italian guys and a couple of younger lads hanging around with them, all sitting on chairs out the front of a roadside coffee shop. We had visions of being fed to the pigs but with little else to choose from, we parked the bike and walked past the silent stares inside and ordered a couple of coffees and some pastries. We collected our order and walked out the front where one of older guys gesticulated and muttered something to a couple of the young who dutifully got up and offered us their seats. We sat with these guys for about twenty minutes and with their very limited English, we were able to become firm friends for the time that we were there. They asked where we from, we think, so we showed them a photo of the harbour bridge and the opera house... 'Ah Sydey'. We spent the next thirty or so minutes communicating with hand gestures and smiles coupled with the locals an occasional bit of English whilst we said 'Ciao' way more than we should have.
We bid our new friends farewell and saddled up to continued our journey North, next stop lunch. Time was getting away from us and we desperately wanted to park the bike, shed our protective apparel and enjoy a couple of cold beers and so it was we found something to eat from a food truck at a local service station. After we ate we wheeled the bike over to the bowser and refuelled ready for the next stint, there were three Ducatis lined up at various bowsers in the service station forecourt, the owners of which were making their way toward us with big grins on their faces. One of the guys was greeting us in pretty good English and, of course waiving hands around wildly. These were one friendly bunch of riders and they informed us they were off to Misano for Ducati week and invited us to join them. We declined their offer but exchanged names and ended finding each other on Facebook. There is still the occasional interaction with two of the lads but I was devastated to hear the news, Babo, the chatty interpreter of the group lost his life on a snowboarding accident a few years later.
We arrived in Assisi at around 3:00 pm and the last leg was a bit of a nightmare run as we had a couple of close calls. One was my fault when I got a little impatient after being caught behind a truck for the longest time, I went to pull out to overtake right into the path of a Land Rover Discovery. I pulled back in behind the truck but I reckon there were inches in it. The other incident occurred again whilst overtaking, this time I was passing a long line of traffic and there was a BMW X5 behind me. I would have been doing around 130 Km/h when the X5 just pulled a little to the left, dropped two wheels on to the shoulder and overtook us, black diesel soot belching from the exhaust. It's just how it was in Italy, you learn to be aggressive on the roads. I've always ridden fairly quickly back in Oz but I've always had a healthy safety margin up my sleeve when came to other road users. I was slowly removing this margin the more time we spent in Italy. On one occasion I pulled up at a round-a-bout and hesitated for the shortest time when the car behind just decided I was taking too long and proceeded to start making his way past my left-hand side, I accelerated and pushed back in front of him and turned and glared at him and he just looked at me like 'what?' It seems to be normal over there if someone is going to slow you down just around them any way you can.
Anyway, back to Assisi. We had no accommodation booked and just rode into the town and looked for accommodation signs and tried our luck. The first place we tried had one room left, a loft-style apartment at the upper end of our budget but we decided to take a look just because it was an interesting old building more than anything else. The room was amazing so we took the medicine and coughed up over one hundred Euro for the night. The room was built up in the loft of the old stone building it was an amazing place to spend the night. We quickly unpacked the bike and got out of our riding gear and into something a little comfortable for wandering the streets of this incredibly beautiful town. Surrounded by the rolling green hills and farmlands of Italy's Umbria region, this charming 12th-century city was the birthplace of St Francis in 1181. We walked for hours and ate the hours away until we fell into bed close to midnight disappointed that we were already feeling like our holiday was coming to a close when all we wanted to do was just hang around in each town and city we stopped at. It was night nine of our twenty-one-night journey so weren't yet halfway but we could just see the days being gobbled up.
Assisi to Venice - 343Klm's
Again we rose early and went to find something to eat before hitting the road for the ride to Venice. We were excited at the prospect of visiting Venice, so we grabbed a pastry from a tiny little hole in the wall bakery and ate it as we walked back to the hotel to grab our gear, load up and hit the road.
**Work in Progress*
Venice to Lake Garda (Torri Del Banco) - 159Klm's
Lake Garda to Innsbruck** - 399Klm's
Innsbruck to Kufstein** - 74Klm's
Kufstein to Salzberg - 99Klm's
Salzberg to Dinkelsbuhl, Germany via Gunskirchen - 508Klm's
Dinkelsbuhl to Brugge, Belgium - 713 Klm's
Brugge to Deal, UK - 173Klm's
Deal to Brentwood - 136Klm's
Bike Hire Info: 2008 Honda VFR-800 from Superbike Rental