Den deutschen Text findet ihr HIER ( zusammen mit Teil 10)
I was a bit tired of photographing, so there aren’t many of Bavaria. But in exchange you will see more motorbike photos. 😉
Italy by motorcycle, part 11 22 May 2012
From Innsbruck we continued via Leutasch and Giessenbach, then into Germany to Mittenwald, the beautiful Walchensee with its turquoise water, Kochel am See, Geretsried, where our GPS led us over the most adventurous little paths that were actually only intended for agricultural vehicles , but now we were there and just drove on, through the beautiful Loisach valley and finally to Munich. Bavaria is beautiful!
We would have liked to stay a little longer in Kochel. Maybe we’ll come back there sometime. Bavaria has quite a few beautiful corners to offer. Although Tyrol has one trump card over Bavaria, the Haflinger horses!
In Munich we got „loaded“ onto the train. That was easy and quick.
When I saw our cabin, which was in the basement of the sleeping car, I had to swallow hard. Tiny was the right word. It was only a bit of an exaggeration to say that you had to go in backwards, because you couldn’t turn around in the room. In order to be able to endure it in there, we had to leave the door open for a while so that I could get used to the narrowness. I’m not generally claustrophobic, but there I was almost at my limit. After a while it felt less bad, and we were able to close the door. The toilet was in the hallway, not too far away, and the beds were wonderful, much better than in the luxury cabin on the way there. Since we had saved money for the cabin, we allowed ourselves the luxury of ordering the train breakfast for the next morning.
May 23, 2012 The train arrived in Hamburg-Altona around 8 a.m. There you drove from the train right through the middle of the station’s hall. I found that a bit strange with all the people walking around there.
From Hamburg we took the motorway to Puttgarden, took the ferry across to Denmark and drove home.
******************** THE END *******************
Both my husband and I consider this trip to be one of the best we have taken together so far. There is also something special about riding a motorcycle. You are not as isolated from your surroundings as you are in a car. I enjoyed that very much.
Now we have a caravan instead of a motorcycle, which we also really enjoy. We are grateful that we have been able to make so many interesting trips and try things out in our lives.
Now we will see if we can ever visit Madeira again, or will be able to go to Norway and Canada. Germany (the Harz Mountains among others), Italy, France and Portugal wouldn’t be bad either. There are still many corners in those countries, where we haven’t been. We’ll see what the future brings …
Den deutschen Text findet ihr HIER ( zusammen mit Teil 11)
May 21, 2012
In storm and rain we left Ponte Vettigano the next day and in storm and rain we arrived in Auer. We were glad that we had brought our rain gear with us, large one-piece rompers, not nice, but effective. However, our leather boots were soaked through at the end of the journey and the water sloshed freely in them. I could have kept goldfish in them. It must have been terrible for my husband to drive all day in heavy rain and headwinds. I was sitting more protected behind his broad back. Actually only our feet and the neck under the helmet were wet, because we didn’t think of pulling the hoods from the rain gear under the helmet.
You have probably already guessed it, we stayed at the Markushof again. It had been tested and found to be good, and we were also able to put the bike in the garage there.
We drove a different route to Auer, via Mantova, then even on the motorway to Verona, as the weather was awful and we would not have been able to enjoy the surroundings. Then we went on via Dolce, Ala, Rovereto, Caillano, Trento, Lavis and Salorno to Auer. I didn’t take any photos that day.
In the hotel we first dried ourselves and stuffed tons of newspaper into our boots, which we then renewed a few more times. Apart from eating at the hotel restaurant (such good food!!!), there were no other activities that evening. We found it very comfortable to just loll around on the bed and watch TV, well fed and warm and dry. Absolute luxury!
May 22, 2012
On our last day, when we drove back to Munich, it was wonderful sunny weather again, and we took the country roads through the Brennertal instead of the motorway.
From Auer we went via Bozen, Chiusa, Bressanone, Varna, Fortezza, Mezzaselva (Mittewald), Campo di Trens, Vipiteno to Brenner.
Break in Chiusa (the bow is not a sign of reverence, but a stretching exercise):
Wir sind auch an Hell (Englisch für „Hölle“) vorbeigekommen, aber das war kein Ort, der liegt in Norwegen, sondern ein Hersteller von Landwirtschaftsmaschinen. … We also passed Hell, but that was not a place, that is in Norway, here it was an agricultural machinery manufacturer.
Then we came through Colma (the place with the family castle) and Matrei to Innsbruck, where we – in the middle of an industrial area – found a great baker / confectioner cum cafe.
Where do you get such a beautiful view of the Alps from a cafe? („Der Bäcker Ruetz“ („The baker Ruetz“) it was called)
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.
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!
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.
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. (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erdbeben_in_Norditalien_2012) 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.
We were twice in the old town of Lucca, one time for a „real“ tour of the city, and a second time for an evening stroll and a visit to a restaurant. I combined the photos from both occasions.
Lucca is a charming city with a very well preserved old town (Middle Ages to Renaissance). You can walk around the old city center on the city wall from the 16th and 17th centuries and from there you have a wonderful view of Lucca and the surrounding area. I could not find the originals of the photos taken from the wall, so we have to put up with the old and unenhanced ones:
One takes care that the house facades are not spoiled, but in contrast to San Gimignano, where local goods and works of art were offered in the small shops, in Lucca it is more the normal retail chains that hide behind them. (Here you can read about the history of Lucca: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucca). Of course, I took the opportunity and bought a pair of shoes. The Italians do the best, I think … although the Brazilians aren’t bad either. However, these were not shoes with high heels, we had no space for that, but fine walking shoes in beige suede. Pure fair weather shoes, that means in Denmark you can only wear them inside …
The Piazza Anfiteatro is not as crowded as the Piazza San Michele, probably because there are no “sights” there. You can sit there in peace with a beer or lunch.
In Lucca, too, you could see flower pots on the small balconies in every imaginable little corner.
The house where Giacomo Puccini was born is also located in Lucca and is a museum now:
We also found this film poster worth seeing: Steve McQueen in the movie „The great escape“.
And to top it off, a couple of photos of the very famous Basilica de San Michele:
Lucca is equipped with restaurants of all kinds. I can’t imagine that someone won’t find anything they like there. We went to eat fish one evening. That was wonderful. We had ordered whole fish and were concerned about the bones, but lo and behold, the waiter filleted them for us! Next to us sat a French couple with two small children who were starting to get bored and found it appropriate to ride their bikes between the tables (we sat outside), also where we sat. Not that their parents said anything to them. We found it a little uncomfortable, after all they could have driven in the square, only half a meter away, where there were no cars. We ate a little faster than normal and were finished sooner than the French who had come before us. “My, they ate quickly,” the woman remarked to her husband. 😀 😀 😀
The evening pictures are unfortunately a bit blurry, but they still reflect the calm mood of the hour. After 10 p.m. there aren’t many people out and about in the old town. It may be different in summer. We were there in May.
Den deutschen Text findet ihr HIER (zusammen mit Teil 6)
From San Gimignano we drove to Volterra, about 15 km away, a town with an impressive castle.
Volterra was beautiful, as you can see in the photos, but the mood there was completely different, almost a little gloomy. Who knows what had happened there once. Instead of ceramics and local delicacies, there were more weapons (swords) and armor on sale.
Just as in San Gimignano, in Volterra every little corner had been used for gardens and flower pots.
I then found out that Volterra was a Medici fortress and is now used as a prison. That might explain things …
Here some more photos of the city:
We didn’t feel like entering the castle, something held us back. (It had the same charisma as the Tower in London, which I will never enter, or the instruments of torture that are on display in Carcassonne (with them they used to torture the Cathars and Albigensians)) You can therefore see photos of the castle HERE.
I think next Saturday we will take a look at Lucca, if I remember correctly, we shall see. Have a good weekend everybody.
Den deutschen Text findet ihr HIER (zusammen mit Teil 7)
18 May 2012 We were determined to see San Gimignano, so we started out, via Pontedera with its remarkable (irony) roundabout works of art, and Ponsacco to San Gimignano.
In the distance you can see the towers.
As you can see from the photos, we didn’t have a blue welcome-to-sunny-Italy-sky. It was actually more or less overcast all day, but warm.
Many say that this city is very touristy. Of course it is. In May, however, it wasn’t that bad, and despite the large number of people, the atmosphere was good. I found the small balconies and miniature terraces very remarkable, as well as the small alleys in which local products were sold, especially food, alcohol and handicrafts. And a boar’s head for 300 euros.
I would have loved to take the big vases with me, but that wasn’t possible on the motorcycle. Later a friend asked me why I hadn’t had them sent to me. The idea never occurred to me. Stupid!
Here is another work of art of a very special kind (see also first photo):
We came across a Roma with a dog and a guitar. He lived in a small bus that was parked a little further away. We liked his music, flowing, easy … and we bought a CD. Often the music on a CD is something completely different then. That was also the case here. It was more in the direction of Django Reinhardt, which we, however, also liked.
And here comes a city tour of San Gimignano:
From San Gimignano we drove to Volterra, about 15 km away, a town with an impressive castle. But about that next time.
Den deutschen Text (zusammen mit Teil 4) findet ihr HIER.
May 16, 2012 continued
The Hotel Santo Steffano was run by a Swiss lady and her Italian friend. The associated restaurant, however, was driven by a different tenant. We ate there in the evening and thought it was very good. That night there was disco dancing at the restaurant until 2 a.m. Forget about sleep … We were actually most concerned about our motorcycle that was parked outside. We didn’t know what kind of people they were. Since we couldn’t sleep anyway because of the loud music, I snuck up to the first floor at the end of the disco evening. There was a window facing the parking lot, from where I could see if anyone was walking over to our motorcycle. But nothing happened, nobody even went near it, and after the last car door had slammed we could finally sleep. There is always disco on Wednesdays, so you are warned! Otherwise we can recommend the hotel. The lady of the house serves a very nice breakfast, even with an egg if you wish.
She told us how difficult it was to have a business in Italy; the taxes would eat you up. After paying her with cash, we saw her get into a car and drive off. We suspected she was out to pay someone to whom she owed money. They didn’t just live off the leased hotel; her boyfriend had another job. She was not very confident that they would be able to stay at the hotel under the circumstances that prevailed in Italy at the moment. It’s a shame, it looks like things are going downhill everywhere.
On Thursday we continued south. Friends had recommended the city of Lucca to us. We looked at the location on the map and found that there would be good day trip possibilities from there. So we decided to definitely stay there for three nights.
The way to Lucca led us via Carpi, Modena, Sassuolo, Frassinoro, Passo delle Radici, a beautiful pass road, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Gallicano, Bagni di Lucca.
In this section, too, I didn’t take as many photos as usual, I was so busy looking. So I will cheat and put in a few photos of the Passo delle Radici that I took on the way back.
In Lucca we only had to drive around for a short while to find an appealing hotel, Hotel San Marco. Since Saint Mark had already given us good accommodation in Auer, we decided to try it there. Also highly recommended, by the way, with underground parking. We have been lucky with our hotels. http://www.hotelsanmarcolucca.it/de/ The hotel really looks like on the pictures, at least in 2012. The website is in four languages and the young man at the reception spoke all four of them, English, French, German and Italian (he was Italian). The old town was only a five minutes walk from the hotel.
Here are just a few photos of Lucca, more will come later, because Lucca will get a separate post.
We drove on towards Lago di Garda, but not on the motorway any longer, which we had already left in Bozen / Bolzano, via Trento, Arco, Nago, Torbole.
Let’s be honest, Lake Garda is over-praised in my eyes. I would prefer Lake Como at any time (I haven’t been to Lake Maggiore yet). But I think we were on the less interesting side of the lake.
O.k., I admit, it wasn’t that uninteresting at all! But much nicer on the other bank … Maybe “our” side was too touristy for me. [Why on earth was I so negative? It looks beautiful!]
Still there were nice little places: Malcesine, Porto, Campo, Castelletto, we ate in a rather kitschy restaurant on the beach, where they served really good food. We took our first break in Castelletto. The restaurant came later.
You can see from the flags that the wind came from the north / north-east. Therefore, it was not very warm in spite of the sun.
View from Castelletto to the other side of the lake.
I’m trying to crawl down into my jacket.
Here are two pictures of the restaurant. Everything was coloured in gold, even the decorations on the tiles and the curtains in the toilet.
One had a nice view.
Our way continued via Lazise (here we left Lake Garda), Valeggio sul Mincio, Marengo, Goito, Gazoldo degli Ippoliti, Marcaria.
Our GPS led us from Cesole to Dosolo on the dike along the Po, from where we had a breathtaking view. I was so blown away that I forgot to take photos. At first we weren’t sure if we were allowed to drive there, but then we met a few cars up there, so it seemed to be legal. In Dosolo we crossed the Po again. We actually wanted to find a hotel, but that turned out to be difficult.
In front of the town on the other side of the river, Guastalla, there was a luxury hotel complex on the right hand side with the problem that it was closed and abandoned. There was another hotel right across the street, but it looked very shabby. We drove further into town but couldn’t make out a single hotel. The population appeared to be mostly Indian or Pakistani. Not that I have anything against them, it just surprised me.
We saw ourselves forced to drive on, via Novellara to a small place called Ponte Vettigano, where we found the Hotel Santo Steffano.
The next day it was beautiful summer weather and we set off for the mountains.
First of all, we looked at the surrounding area, but after the first pass, the pass fever seized us.
We drove over a total of three passes: Passo di Rolle, Passo di Brocon and Passo Manghen. With the last one I was a bit queasy, because the street was very narrow, yes I would call it single-lane, and there was no wall or similar protective measures on the side of the precipice. I’m afraid of heights, but I still can’t stay away from mountains because they are so beautiful. Finding an open restaurant on the way was not so easy, as many establishments were still closed.
I’ll just take you on a motorcycle tour (for nerds 😉 ):
At the little Virgin Mary chapel we had reached the „real“ Dolomites:
It was kind of between two seasons, no more winter sports and not yet summer vacation. Here are some names of the places we came through: Trudno corni, Montagna, Cavalese, Bellamonte, San Martino di Castrozza, Fiera di Primiero, Imer, Canal San Bovo, Castello Tesino, Strigno, Telve (sounds like music).
From the Manghen Pass I have a few pictures from above of the parking lot and a view of the road we were supposed to drive down. There was a ridiculous little fence on the left, and that was it for the rest of the way! Hardly any people drove down there either.
On the way back we could see a dark wall of clouds behind us that seemed to be getting closer and we hurried as best we could. It was still nice in Auer, so we could take a long walk through the town. I’ll show the pictures of it, really many, next time.