Sunday, July 17, 2011

thoughts and closing

Don't go away. I'm updating the blog over the next week or so. Adding more pics, re-writting some of the text to correct spelling mistakes and add more content as I've remembered things I've missed out. So far I'm up to Day 9.

I loved the event. It was fantastic. I'd highly recommend it to anyone. The Italian people are so friendly, helpful,and courteus... until they get behind the wheel of a car, and then they go crazy.

I'm sure that the NSW branch of the Australian Institute of Civil Engineers have been over here teaching them how to build roads, as they are long and straight and fairly much bloody awful!

The sights were amazing. The views, the hill top towns, The food! You've never ridden a twisty until you cross the centre of Italy off the beaten track.

Would I do it again? Bet your arse I would!

Day 12, Reggio Emelia to Milan

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We had to be up and out by 9am as new guests were coming in. No problem at all. We left and were on the way to Milan. Only 169km left to do. A very uneventful run, but it was funny recognising some of the places we passed, or stopped at as time points in the actual Milan-Taranto. At about 120km I saw an interesting looking church, so assumed we were looking at an old town and pulled off the road for lunch. Once again, the Lambrettas got a great deal of attention as we say in the bar, which was attached to the church itself. Then it was on our way again,a nd we finally got back to the B&B in Millepini in the early afternoon.

I waited for a few hours, and then took the scoot down to Vittorio's where it will be checked over ready for EuroLambretta 2012.

That evening, we had dinner with Tino Sacchi again, and his wife, Nadia. Adolfo, the support van driver, also happened to show up. again, the food did not disapoint. We finished with an extremely good lemoncello, which really knocked me for six and made driving the car back to the B&B an interesting exercise.

Day 11, Rimini to Reggio Emelia

We only had 320km to get back to Milan, and we decided to have 2 easy days rather than do it all in a single day. We set ourselves a short target of Modena, or a long target of Reggio Emilia. In the end we actually stopped somewhere in between at another agriturismo called Il Brugnolo, near Scandiano. This was the only place that actually had any space for us.

The ride was good. We missed most of the major towns with the GPS directing us around them. However, we were off the beaten track and got to see some great countryside.

We arrived at the Agriturismo, with quite a few hours to spare. The owner can speak some English, but prefers to speak Italian. Akiko and I went to the local pool for an hour or so. I had an argument with an arsehole Italian who took teh parking place I was about to go into. Interesting what you can achieve with gestures.

That night we went to the local town, and went to Piazza Fiume, where we had been recommended a certain restorante... which was closed. Nothin else seemed to be open, so we walked back out of the Piazza, and found someone who directed us to a door in the wall... which opened to some stairs, which when climbed took us to a fantastic little place called Ristorante Al Portone. We were on the terrace next to what had been a moat, and what looke dlike an old city wall tower. The food, once more, was amazingly good and the wine was fabulous. A Great find!

Day 10, Near Ancona to Near Rimini, via San Marino

This day we rode to Rimini Lambretta Centre, via San Marino.

I couldn't sleep well in the hotel. To say the bed was interesting would be an understatement. You lay on the mattress, and you sank in to it. Very uncomfortable. I woke up at 4am, and played on the iPad for a few hours. Finally, as 6am I got up and changed my front tyre as it had worn unevenly from the problem with the forks.

We left at about 9:30am, but didn't even get out of the carpark as my new front tyre had decided to deflate. So, I had to put the old one back on again. We were now off to San Marino... another one ticked off my list of world's smallest countries. I've been, now, to the Vatican City, Monaco, San Marino and Lichtenstein.

As we went along the road, we realised that:

1) There was a much nicer hotel just up the road
2) If we had kept going, we had done the hard part and that the last 25km was MUCH easier.

Still, the ride to San Marino was fantastic, especially climbing up to the castle. It was, though, a very hot day at around 39C. The height gave us a brief respite from the heat, and we were rewarded with some stunning views.

When we got to the main town centre, we stopped and had something to drink. We hapenned to pick a corner where loads of young students were constantly filing past and going into a liquor store. I can only surmise that teh drinking age is lower in San Marino. The tour guides were certainly friendly with the store owners. The Lambrettas caused a bit of a stir, and were admired by many... but we weren't at the top yet. So, Ron and I got on the scoots and rode up as far as we could go to the entrance of the old castle.

When we had finished in San Marino, it was back down towards Rimini. I wanted a new inner tube, and get the front wheel changed. So, we decided to stay at an agriturismo in near the RLC that had been recommended by Dean, and that Ron and Suzanne had stayed at before, Antiche Macine. This place was stunning, and I couldn't wait to get back there after Rimini.

RLC were fantastic. One guy came down to the Agriturismo to escort me up to RLC, and I met Marco to start. He soon got the guys working on my scoot and then Dean arrived. Amazingly, we discovered we were from the same part of the UK and that he knew people I knew when I was a teenager. My god he can talk quickly. Full on. Great guy. He rode my scoot and was appalled at the handling (remember this is better than it was), and tried it without shocks... which was better again, so standard single action shocks were put on. We were looking at the shocks that had been there, and one of them just fell apart... so no surprise it was bad. Again, an improvement in handling, but still not perfect. The forks are definitely not true.

Finally it was time to go and enjoy that wonderful swimming pool and the last of the evening sun. Bliss!

Dinner was, once more, just amazing. Fantastic food. Of all the places I've stayed on this trp, this is one of my favourites. I wish I could've stayed another few days.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 9, Foggia to Ancona, nearly

To leave Foggia, we first had to get the car out of the underground carpark with the very steep entrance. Just turning it around down there was an art in itself, but then getting it up the ramp was problematical as the car only just fit. I had scenes of the Top Gear episode where they stop traffic in Paris trying to get 3 super cars out of a similar car park.

Ron had suffered a bit on the ride the previous day, so we decided to pick a near location, which was Porto D'Ascoli, and a stretch goal of Ancona, which was founded by the greeks in 327BC. Porto D'Ascoli, was a modern city founded in the 13th century, so nowhere near as interesting.

The drive along the coast was quite breathtaking, and the tunnels a welcome break from the beating sun. We stopped near San Vito Chietino for Lunch, at a beautiful beach side area. You could see lots of Africans walking the beach with these huge bags containing all kinds of things, such as swim suits, t-shirts, sun tan lotion, etc... trying to sell their wares. I also noticed the support van for the Swiss Laverda Club, who had been at the MiTa, were there and that they had been to Cornwall (Kernow sticker on the back door)

We soon got to Porto D'Ascoli, and decided to push on to Ancona, and so we reserved a hotel there. We then entered a 75km traffic jam! Eventually, after 3 hrs, we gave up as we just could not face the last 25km, and pulled into a roadside hotel that used to be, but was still advertising as, 3 stars.

The hotel, you could see, had had quite a bit of money spent on it in the past, but it was now past its prime. Still, beggars can't be choosers and we settled in. I will say, though, that the food from the "restaurant" was again, extremely good. Can't fault it at all.

The bed's were interesting, in that Akiko and I sank into our beds, whereas Ron and Suzanne's were, apparently like rock. I didn't sleep too much, as it was so uncomfortable.

Day 8 - Torchiarolo to Foggia

We started the day at the Lambretta Store in Puglia, where Ron did some maintenance on his scoot, which consisted of adjusting his front brake, checking the oil, and replacing a screw that had come loose. We had a good look around Enzo's store, and particularly at his restorations, for which he is getting a good reputation as the quality is excellent, but he can only manage to do 4 a year.

I got to discover the monetary damage from the repairs, which was very reasonable as I had a huge favour done for me, and also what the problem was:

Basically, the rods were not correct. They have a ball on the end, and the ball was too big, thus they did not sit in the cup on the links properly, and the springs were too weak. To add to that, one of the rods was bent! Oh, and the bolts in the fork buffers were cross threaded. To say I was a tad unhappy would be an understatement.

Ron was finished with his servicing, and Enzo wanted some pics with us. So, once more we posed. Obviously we were more than happy to do so, as Enzo had been such a gracious host.

I had one more treat in store for me though... I got to ride Tino Sacchi's Targa Twin that had been in the Milan-Taranto. Enzo took us down the road towards the beach, and I opened the throttle and, very quickly, everyone else became a dot in the background... and I wasn't even full throttle. I had it up to 140kph, and it was still accelerating! And smooth? I was on a rock hard ancilotti seat, and could hardly feel any vibration. What a beautiful machine.

Finally, we were off once more, on our way to Foggia (Fodge-ee-ah). nOt much to say about the ride, except it was about 300km of motorway riding and so we mainly saw barriers, with an occassional stunning view. We were supposed to stop in Molfetta, but due to me not understanding how to program my GPS correctly, we rode straight past it. We then carried on to Barletta where we stopped for lunch, parking neatly beside the road. Which was pointless, as the Southern Italians don't believe in doing the same.

Part of the reason for stopping at Barletta was to see the magnificent castle, which was initially built by the Normans in the 2nd half of the 12th Century and restored in 1996. When we went to see the Castle, it is open 6 days a week... unfortunately, it was the day it was closed. Barletta is famous also for the Colossus of Barletta, which we missed, and also because it was the first place of Italian resistance to the Germans in 1944.

When we arrived in Foggia, Ron asked someone about a hotel, and we were directed to the Mercure, Hotel Cicolella, which was an amazing art deco hotel. Very nice. The room even had its own sitting room, and a bath! Ah, the glories of a bath when you've had a hard ride. The only downside of the place was that the carpark was extra and a whole block away... which was enough distance for Ron to get lost.

We met Ron and Suzanne for dinner around 8:30pm, and were about to go out when we discussed the option of the set menu in the hotel restaurant for E35 a person, including wine and water. We decided to go for it. It was superb and, once again, it was huge.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 7 - Getting the forks fixed

We rode to Torchiarolo in Puglia (Pooh-lia), where the previous night the owner of the Casa Lambretta Consesionaire had offered to help with the forks. It was about 90km of very scarey riding. It was OK when going fast, as the gyroscopic effect of the wheel made it go upright, but as soon as I hit a bump, or had to slow for a corner, it got quite hairy.

Still, we made it into town. It looked like a place out of a spaghetti western. All the shutters were closed. I half expected to see a kid run across the street, or hear a dog barking, and then have Clint Eastwood appear, but instead right outside a bar was an LI series 2, so we pulled up... the owner was a member of the local Lambretta club, and offered to call Enzo for us... who was uncontactable as he was too busy having fun on the twin. Meanwhile, we needed somewhere to stay, so this woman, Amelia, turns up racing through town in her Fiat Panda, to make sure we stay with her, and that we are OK. So helpful, it almost hurts.

Enzo showed up, we had some beers and then he took us to his workshop. Which is extremely well stocked and has some beautiful machines that belong to him. Once more, it was "go away and leave it with me, I'll fix it". So we went off to the B&B, which was also recommended by Enzo, and was walking distance away.

Akiko and I wanted to go to the beach, and Amelia gave us directions with her broken English and a map. She kept asking if we wanted her to accompany us to make sure we were on the correct road (Torchiarolo is a maze), but we said no. We were working our way through town, and she suddenly appeared. She had decided to look for us and do it anyway!

The beach was fantastic. Water was beautiful and warm, and the section we were on was not crowded at all. I christened my first ever Bikini, and we sunbathed for a while (How nice to not have a sun that cooks you in 30 mins flat), and just enjoyed the ability to relax.

Then it was back to the B&B and time to get ready for dinner. Enzo had called, he had finished the scoot and was going to show up with it later. He then going escorted us to a bar, then he went home to get changed. We sat there at the bar, and watched as the locals started to come out of their homes, and as the town started to come alive.

After about 45 minutes, Enzo showed up again with a friend and then took us back to the beach for a fantastic meal and to meet his wife. It's amazing, but the town had not only come alive, it was packed! It really is a nocturnal existence in this place. Again, the company was fantastic, as was the food. Enzo's wife was an absolute delight.

We had tjis very strange table mat which was an advert. It showed a woman cupping her breasts and looking very happy. She had rings on her fingers. I was trying to work out what it was selling. In the end, I asked..... jewellery.

Finally, to bed, and then up again the next day to collect my scoot. Find out what the problem was, and for Ron to give his scoot a service.