RTW Roxy

Greece & Italy 2018 (#7)

amalfi coast motorcycle

Days 13-17

25/04/2018

I only had one day to ride around Sicily (not even a full day). I was originally hoping to spend about 2 days there, but due to my sprocket carrier bearing collapsing I had to spend one day in Scilla, just before Sicily, to sort it out. While I was there, the garage that I ended up at tried to sort my oil leak out too, but with no luck.

I got on the ferry to Sicily in the evening and found some campsite around half way to mount Etna.

In the morning woke up early, packed my tent and set off towards the Etna volcano. This is the route I did that day:

sicily motorcycle route

I didn’t really know what sort of road surface to expect going up the Etna volcano, but it was not the best and not the worst.

When I got to the end of the road – the highest point that I could get by road – there was big car park and some restaurants and shops. From there there was an option to take cable car to the crater but to get up and back down it would take about 2 hours and I decided against it.

etna motorcycle
etna volcano motorcycle
etna volcano
etna-volcano
etna volcano

Video from the ride up and down the Etna volcano:

I didn’t have anything for breakfast and was hungry so I was hoping to get something to eat in one of the restaurants there. But it was still quite early in the morning and they were not serving food yet, so I ended up getting an ice cream from one of the souvenir shops instead.

Once I got back down I wanted to keep going south a bit but didn’t have any specific routes in mind. Got on a motorway to get past Catania quickly and it was mobbed with traffic. I was filtering through the middle but at some point I noticed some bikes just riding on the hard shoulder. It’s illegal in UK but wasn’t sure if legal in Italy – probably not, but decided to follow them anyway.

After a while I didn’t really know where I was going and it was so hot, I decided to turn around and go back north. I picked some random twisty roads going through Nabodi National Park.

Roads were pretty good, not super amazing but not bad either. Some sections were smooth, some more bumpy. Some sweeping corners, a lot of bikers. Got chased by a dog at some point.

Was riding through some small village with very narrow streets between the buildings when my sat nav started telling me to take some turns. I missed one, rode round the village again and finally managed to find the turn that my sat nav wanted me to take.

It took me on some country single track road that was very narrow. I wasn’t expecting that but just followed the directions. Road was getting worse, lots of gravel, huge potholes, and kept getting steeper downhill. I was lucky if I was doing 10 mph.

Potholes got so bad that they were 5-10cm deep and any bit of tarmac that was not covered in potholes, it was covered in stones. Road was so narrow that I don’t know how cars fit on it. It was the steepest downhill road that I ever been on. As if that wasn’t enough, there was a hairpin turn in front of me. I didn’t think I would make it. Stopped and looked at it – no chance. But it was so steep that there was no chance turning around. I couldn’t get off the bike as I knew it would fall over. The only way was to keep going.

I was all sweating and shaking. My back brake started overheating and couldn’t use front brake going down the hill, especially that steep. Took a deep breath and went to take that corner. Made it.

My helmet camera started playing up and got most of this road recorded, but didn’t get this scariest moment. Road continued like that for the next couple miles before it joined the main road. That main road looked very similar to the road that I was on earlier, before I ended up on this single track road. I looked at a map. Turns out that this single track road was a “shortcut” that my sat nav found…

It was nearly 3pm when I got back to the north coast in the north-eastern part of Sicily.

sicily motorcycle
sicily motorcycle

Looked at a map to check if there are any interesting places to see before I head for the ferry back to the Italian mainland. It looked like there was quite an interesting place along the coast – Faro di Capo Milazzo and went to check it out.

It was mobbed with cars – cars were parked for almost a mile away and a lot of people turning around who were hoping to find parking space closer to the lighthouse. I managed to squeeze my bike in some gap between the cars and went to take some pictures. There was a nice landscape but since it was so busy and so hot I felt a bit suffocated and decided to get back on the bike and head for the ferry.

Faro di Capo Milazzo
Faro di Capo Milazzo
Faro di Capo Milazzo

Milazzo castle:

Castello di Milazzo
Milazzo castle

Here’s the video from my ride around Sicily:

It was about 6pm when I got on a ferry back from Sicily to the mainland.

sicily ferry

It’s a short ferry but by the time I got off it, sun was already going down. I looked at a map to see where I could get to within about an hour ride and decided to head to Tropea, and hopefully find some campsite there.

By the time I got there it was dark. I rode through the centre of Tropea – it was so busy with night life and tourists. My phone was showing that there is a campsite not far away from the town centre but there were some roadworks and I was struggling to find it at first. After I went round several times, finally found it. Campsite was right beside the sanctuary Santa Maria dell’Isola, which looked amazing at night:

Santa Maria dellIsola tropea
Santa Maria dellIsola tropea

There was a restaurant at the campsite so as soon as I put my tent up, went there to get some food. They didn’t speak English well and asked me if I speak any other languages, I said Polish (even though I didn’t expect anyone to speak Polish there since it’s not as common as English, Spanish, German or French). But there was someone who spoke Polish! They helped me to understand the menu but ended up just ordering margherita (cheapest) pizza. You can’t go to Italy and not have a pizza right?

Once I had my food went for a shower and went to sleep.

26/04/2018

The plan for today was to ride north and take some detours through some twisty roads in Pollino national park and then Amalfi coast.

tropea to rome motorcycle route

At first I got onto the main road going north from Tropea. After a while I took a turn and got onto some nice and twisty roads in the Pollino national park. As usual I didn’t know what sort of road surface to expect, but this time it was nice and smooth with wide sweeping corners. And scenery was amazing too.

I didn’t take any pictures, but here’s the video:

Next I started heading towards Amalfi Coast. Got to Salerno around 4pm. It was really hot and Amalfi Coast was absolutely mobbed with traffic. It was not so bad at first, but for the most of it I was lucky if I was doing 30mph between the towns. When going through the towns I was trying to squeeze in between traffic, following all the scooters (most of them in shorts and without helmets). The road was pretty narrow and while they didn’t have any problems filtering through the traffic, I was on a 900cc bike instead of 50cc and it was loaded with luggage. I was amazed in how small gaps between the cars I managed to squeeze through.

It was so hot and with going at such slow speeds my bike was overheating constantly. (I felt like I was overheating also). At some point I stopped in the shade to try and cool down but with no luck. I was tempted to take my jacket off and strap it to my bike and just ride in tshirt for a while (not something I do very often) but didn’t have any spare straps so just put my jacket back on.

It took me at least 2 hours to ride the whole Amalfi coast. It would probably be really fun if I knew that it would be that busy and tried to plan it a bit better and get there early in the morning when there would (hopefully) be less traffic, instead of the afternoon when it was mobbed.

But at least the views were pretty nice:

amalfi coast
amalfi coast
amalfi coast motorcycle
amalfi coast motorcycle
amalfi coast
amalfi coast

Video from Amalfi Coast:

After Amalfi Coast I wanted to keep going north as far as possible, since I was running out of time. But at the same time I wanted to see things along the way, like Pompeii since it was not far away.

But when I got to Pompeii and wanted to go to see the ruins, it was too late and they were just closing. I had an option to either stay there for the night or skip it and keep going. Since I was hoping to get close to Rome today I had to skip Pompeii and keep going. I decided to take a detour and ride up the Vesuvius volcano instead. The sunset was amazing.

vesuvius volcano
vesuvius volcano
vesuvius volcano
vesuvius volcano

From there I got on a motorway and wanted to get as far north as possible. It got dark pretty quickly. After couple hours of ride I got off the motorway. Checked my phone to try and find any campsites nearby. Some place popped up on my phone about 20 minutes away and went there.

Ended up on some (tarmac) farm road so I was thinking if I could maybe just camp on one of the farms instead of paying for the campsite. But each farm had a gate that was shut and couldn’t find a place to just put my tent up on the side of the road.

When I got to where the campsite was supposed to be, there was some gravel turn off but I wasn’t too sure if that was it and went past it, still hoping to maybe find some place to just put my tent up on some farm. But with no luck I turned around and got back to where this turn off was. I still wasn’t sure if that was the right place and I didn’t really want to go on this gravel road when it was pitch dark just to find out that there is no campsite. But I really just wanted to stop somewhere so went to check it out.

There was a big house and quite a big land outside, although it was dark and I couldn’t see much. The owners heard me coming and came outside. I said that I’m looking for a place to camp and apologised that I got there so late. They seemed ok with it and said that it’s 10 euro to camp there for the night. I paid and went to pitch my tent.

27/04/2018

This was the view in the morning:

italy camping
italy camping motorcycle

(My tent looks like it’s a bit “down” – that’s because I broke one of the poles when I was in Norway – near Nordkapp two European trips ago, but continued using this tent anyway).

Since I was not far away from Rome, first thing in the morning I headed to see the Colosseum.

Route I did that day:

rome to milan route

Got to the Colloseum around 9am but the queue was huge. I was trying to not let it put me off and I thought that maybe it will move fast? I decided to stand in the queue and see how fast it moves. At first it wasn’t moving at all, but when it eventually started moving it was moving pretty slowly.

After half an hour of wait I wasn’t even half closer. But I spent half an hour waiting already so I may as well wait another half an hour and actually get in? Finally there was only 1 person left in front of me. But that’s when they stopped issuing the tickets because they only let certain number of people in, and need to wait till a number of people leaves before they start selling tickets again. Waited another 5, 10, 15 minutes. Eventually got fed up with waiting and decided to leave this and just take some pictures outside instead.

rome colloseum motorcycle
rome colloseum
rome colloseum
rome colloseum

From Rome it was about 4 hours ride to get to Pisa the quickest way, using the motorway. Since I didn’t have any time left for any detours, that was the route that I took.

Nothing interesting has happened, ride was pretty boring (which was expected – motorway).

Finally got to Pisa:

pisa
pisa
pisa
pisa

After Pisa I wanted to keep going north and stop at Lake Como for the night. But before I get to Lake Como I wanted to stop in Monza near Milan to meet up with Alex. Alex was following my trip on Instagram and when I had issues with sprocket carrier bearing collapsing and being stuck in Scilla, he offered his help in case I couldn’t sort it out or if I needed any help translating etc.

But by the time I got near Milan it was getting late so if I was to stop there I could only stop for around half an hour before I would have to keep going to get to Lake Como. But Alex suggested that I could just sleep in his living room on the sofa, and I agreed.

Parked my bike in the underground car park under his flat. Talked for a while and then I went for a shower. We were pretty hungry so got in his car and went to get some food.

monza

Once we finished our food, Alex took me around Monza to show me the town. It was pretty nice at night.

monza
monza
monza
monza

I was pretty tired though so we went back to his flat and went to sleep.

28-29/04/2018

In the morning Alex offered to ride to Lake Como with me. I wanted to ride around the lake but unfortunately didn’t have enough time and had to ride back to UK. But it was on the way to Swiss border anyway, so could at least stop there for a picture.

lake como
lake como motorcycle
lake como motorcycle
lake como motorcycle

Alex turned back when we got near the Swiss border and I continued riding north through Switzerland. It was pretty cold riding through the mountains as it’s usually still pretty cold in Alps in April. But the views here always amaze me:

switzerland
switzerland

Then I just continued through France for the rest of the day. It was getting late when I finally got to the Calais – Dover ferry and rode north through England through the night. Riding all night is pretty tiring so I was stopping a lot. Finally got home around 10 in the morning!

Greece & Italy 2018 (#7)

3 thoughts on “Greece & Italy 2018 (#7)

  1. Just absolutely amazing journey, Roxy! Loved esp the pictures where the light blends the sky and water into one! And what a story teller —

    “there was a hairpin turn in front of me. I didn’t think I would make it. Stopped and looked at it – no chance. But it was so steep that there was no chance turning around. I couldn’t get off the bike as I knew it would fall over. The only way was to keep going….”

    Wonderful! Keep going, be safe! 🙂

  2. The story of the hair-pin turn on that bad road had me nervous for you. I’m glad your alright. I have been telling my wife about your adventures and she looks forward to hearing about them. Keep doing fun things, be safe, drive safe!

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