Across Italy, April 2023
A plan that has been in the works for a long time is finally being implemented.
In 2020, we fell victim to the pandemic and now we are finally on our way.
We want to cross Italy lengthwise from Palermo in Sicily in the far south to Genoa in the north.
We will travel to Genoa by van, then take the motorbikes on the ferry to Palermo and then back to Genoa through the provinces of Sicily, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Abruzzo, Marche, Umbria and Tuscany. All in all, we ride 2500 motorbike kilometres through very different landscapes and do not spare tourist highlights like the Amalfi Coast.
Especially in the south, hardly a stop goes by without us being addressed in German. Many Italians there have connections to Germany. Most of them worked in Germany for several years, came back and then built up their own existence. Whether it was a bar, restaurant, shop or petrol station - we often got into conversations.
It is a long way from Schwedt or Berlin to Genoa. We travel in two vans. Otfried and Axel together in one and Thomas and I in the other. We make the journey to Genoa in two stages. The stopover is near Nuremberg in Lauf an der Pegnitz.
Thomas and I also make a short detour to the Via Mala gorge in Switzerland.
On the way, we find out that the ferry to Genoa doesn't leave at 11 pm, but rather at three in the night. This delays our arrival in Palermo. In the end, we will arrive in Palermo at three o'clock in the morning and fall into bed at four o'clock in the morning.
All in all, it will take us three days to reach the starting point of the tour near Palermo in Sicily.
The day belongs to Sicily and the legendary Targa Florio road racing circuit, which is also said to be the source of the Porsche Targa's name. We first visit a museum and then drive larger parts of the race track.
The roads are good but very undulating. The island is a volcano and constantly in motion. There is often road damage. Overall, it is noticeable that there are often restrictions to 30 or even 20 km/h on the country roads. However, hardly anyone obeys them.
We pass Mount Etna in the north and head towards Catania. From there we continue along the coast to Messina. We take the ferry across to Villa San Giovanni on the tip of Italy's boot in Calabria. We spend the night in a small hotel in Scilla.
We drive north first along the coast and then into the Sila National Park near Acri.
The endless rows of olive farms, some of them very old, are impressive. In the Sila National Park it becomes surprisingly mountainous and at an altitude of 1500 metres we still discover remnants of snow.
We leave the tip of the boot and continue through the Pollino and Appenino National Parks to Potenza in the province of Basilicata.
The weather is moderate but it does not rain. The highlight is certainly lunch. It is a bank holiday and we unexpectedly find ourselves in a banquet with a ballroom, band and dance floor. We are completely misplaced there, but are welcomed nevertheless and get good Italian pasta for lunch on the side of the party.
Out of the Apennines and towards the Amalfi Coast. We first drive through the Monti Picentini Regional Park, then past Salerno to the Amalfi Coast. Then we cross the ridge towards Naples, look at Vesuvius and immediately turn inland again.
The day brings quite a lot of town crossings and plenty of traffic. But we are compensated by magnificent views.
The roads are surprisingly slippery. Several times my ABS kicks in when braking in stop-and-go traffic in the suburbs of Naples (Pompei and Agri).
It continues through Molise into the Abruzzo more on the right side of the boot.
Highlight of the day is mom, who cooks in a small mountain town especially for us and powerfully serves up. This is a great experience.
The Hotel Bellavista in the evening turns out to be a Bed&Breakfast. No dinner. We let deliver and enjoy the great rooms and the actually beautiful view.
We stay away from Rome in the west and continue to Perugia.
In the morning we pass L'Aquila, which was badly damaged by an earthquake a few years ago. Fortunately there is hardly any damage to be seen. This is different a little later in the mountain villages below the Forca die Presta, a surprisingly beautiful pass in the Monti Sibillini National Park.
Perugia surprises on the one hand with the hotel and on the other hand with the old town on a mountain. The Chocohotel follows the theme of chocolate consistently and very opulently. Already at check-in you get a small bar of chocolate and everywhere there are references to the theme. Very nice. The old town of Perugia on the mountain can be reached by moving staircases. We find a small pizzeria there and have a good dinner.
We move on to Pisa in Tuscany. Relatively much traffic but gentle and beautiful landscape. Just Tuscany.
The evening belongs to Pisa and of course we look at the leaning tower and the old town.
We touch Carrara, famous for its marble, and enter Liguria.
After La Spezia we drive above the coast of Cinque Terre on the extremely winding and beautiful road SS21 and see many Italian motorcyclists.
In the early afternoon we are back in Genoa and pack the motorcycles back into the vans.
While Otfried and Axel drive the Genoa-Schwedt route without stop, Thomas wants to spend another week in the Italian mountains.
We continue to a very nice hotel near the French border. The next day he drops me off at the airport in Nice, where his wife arrives and I board a flight to Berlin.
In the early afternoon both I and the bike are back in Berlin.
Find here a summary of the routes taken