Italy with the motorbike, part 9

19 May 2012

Actually, the second excursion was meant to go to Portovenere near La Spezia, north of Lucca on the coast. But that turned out not to be that easy. We drove via Camaiore, Pietrasanta (with a clean, raked elite beach where there were hardly any people), Marina, Marina di Massa, Massa, Castelnuovo Magra, Sarzana, where we were sent back and forth and in circles for construction work. We were simply not meant to find the road to Portovenere.

The red loops represent our trials to find the road to Portovenere, which is situated where the purple arrow points to.
Map: Google

After ending up in the same spot for the third time, we gave up and had lunch at a tiny grill in Romanito Magra. We got a tasty vegetarian lasagne, yes! And he didn’t have to prepare it extra for us, it was part of the lunch food of the day, yes!

The exclusive Marina di Petrasanta, where people with special beach rakes (machines) were constantly on the move, although there were only a few people on the beach. In the background the breathtaking mountains of the Parco Alpi Apuane.

Here once more, zoomed in:

We then drove back to Lucca and looked a little closer at the city (you saw the pictures in part 8). In front of the hotel we met a very nice couple from Hamburg, with whom we talked for almost an hour as if we had known each other for a long time. They left that day. It’s a shame we hadn’t met before. However, we kept in touch with them, at least via email and Skype.

May 20, 2012

Since the weather wasn’t great (it had started to rain yesterday afternoon and it wasn’t supposed to get any better in the next few days), we decided to go home earlier and rebooked our car train seats. We no longer got a luxury compartment with a bathroom, but that turned out to be beneficial.

Our way took us again over the Passo delle Radici from Tuscany into Emilia Romagna, but we drove a slightly different route, namely over Pievepelago and then from Sassuolo the already known road to Modena and Ponte Vettigano back to the Hotel Santo Steffano. We had liked it and the disco was only on Wednesday. We had originally planned to spend the night in Bologna, but then we didn’t feel like visiting a big city, especially not when it was raining cats and dogs.

The weather was mixed. The sun was shining on the pass, but when we got into Emilia Romagna, we found ourselves in fog or in low lying clouds, I couldn’t tell which.

A signpost forest at the pass 😉 . The small white ones between the large orange one and the blue one to San Pellegrino, were for hiking paths. It is a beautiful region for hiking in summer.

When I look at this photo, I think there were both, low lying clouds and rising fog.
Barigazzo, Albergo San Giorgio

On the way, however, we stopped in a tiny place called Barigazzo, at the Albergo San Giorgio, which was run by an ancient couple. Beside us there was a single gentleman who was talking to the landlord and two elderly gentlemen at the next table. When they got to their dessert, they got red cheeks and were in a very good mood. We blamed that on the red wine they drank with their meal. We got a delicious pasta with funghi dish and local beans. For dessert we then asked for the same as the two gentlemen. It turned out to be a combination of ice cream and whisky. Aha, that could explain the rosy cheeks! The landlady was not stingy with the whisky and my husband got an extra shot on his ice cream.

The old lady tried to talk to us, but only spoke Italian, and I found that I could understand a lot, not because of Spanish, no, because of the so useless Latin that I had to study in grammar school. We were told the stories of their sons, but mainly their grandsons (nipote), one of whom was a doctor in Paris while the other lived in Rome. I forgot what he did for a living. She was very sorry that she did not see them so often because they lived so far away. Both, sons and grandsons were musically gifted and played instruments. We were shown a lot of pictures. At the same time she tried to persuade us to stay the night, but we couldn’t, we had just rebooked the car train and the weather wasn’t great.

We were given various business cards for our amici (friends) because the business was probably no longer what it used to be. As you can see in the pictures, Barigazzo is wonderfully situated, definitely for hikers and cyclists. But it’s not right next to a ski lift.

After the Passo delle Radici we had had to put on our rain gear. But the fog (or clouds) lifted on the way down into the valley, and when we got to the bottom, we could take it off again. For weather reasons I don’t have as many photos of that day, because I didn’t want the camera to get wet.

In the valley we had an unpleasant traffic experience. We were driving on the country road, some cars behind us, and suddenly a camper van or bus or something like that turned into the road from the left. Even if he didn’t see US, he should have seen all the cars right behind us. He was probably only looking to one side. In any case, there was suddenly a big car only half a meter from my leg. Fortunately, my husband was able to swerve to the right. The obviously totally confused camper-van/bus-driver then simply continued on in the opposite lane, i.e. in the wrong direction, which nearly made my heart stop. Lucky for him, no cars came from the opposite direction. A little further on he could get off the road and sort himself out. That was our only dangerous traffic situation during the whole trip, because my husband drives very defensively. It is a strange phenomenon, but motorists seem to either not see motorcyclists or to misjudge their speed. Since we are always the weaker ones, my husband doesn’t take any chances.

When we arrived in Ponte Vettigano, we learned from the landlady that they had just experienced a terrible earthquake. Ponte Vettigano was about 65 kilometers from the Epicenter (northeast of San Felice sul Panaro). The whole house had moved from side to side. You don’t necessarily want to experience that. Then rather disco music. ( In any case, we were once again lucky that we didn’t go back a day earlier. If I remember correctly, there were two main earthquakes and over 100 aftershocks. Partly people had already moved back into their houses and were then caught in one of those. Strangely (and luckily) only 24 people died, but tens of thousands lost their homes, and the material damage was exorbitant.

That really put a damper on the mood, but we were very tired and slept well anyway.

(To be continued)