Route Napoléon to Via Aurelia

Van Route Napoleon naar Via Aurelia It is Friday the 6th of December and still chilly in the shade when we pack up the bikes. Once the sun emerges over the adjacent building it is perfect weather for a ride on the bikes. We replace the “spiderman masks” for sunglasses and get on.

We drive through the countryside of the French Riviera, a few kilometres inland. A winding road through pine forests. Here and there we catch a glimpse of beautiful mansions. It is clear that we drive through a prosperous part of France. We are regularly overtaken by fast cars with tanned drivers. We suspect that the warm climate also attracts many retired French, because the number of gray heads with a walker or cane is high.

Every few kilometres we drive to another village. The main road often runs through the local shopping street with a speed limit of 30km (18 miles) per hour. The many traffic lights and pedestrian crossings slow us down good. There’s no hurry, but at the same time it is very tiring to drive slowly from traffic light to pedestrian crossing. Your left arm almost gets numb of handling the clutch. After we have followed the road for two hours, also through Cannes, we decide to get on the highway in Nice to make some time and give the left arm a rest.

Van Route Napoleon naar Via Aurelia That means that we again drive on a toll road. So be it. After a while we get to the first gate, where we have to pay €1.50 per bike. The machine does not take Peter his credit cards. The alternative is coins, but we have only bills and the machine does not take those. There are now three cars behind us, so we press the ‘help button’. The lady at the other end of the line opens the gate for us. Without having paid, we put the engine in first gear and drive through the gate  The alarm rings when we drive away.

We both have only one glove on. We had taken it of to get a ticket and the money. This time there is no place or parking where we can stop to put it back on again. So we drive on with only one glove, fortunately it is not so cold any more. After 20km (12 miles) we can finally get of the highway. However we find ourselves before a toll booth again (even though we had not taken a ticket anywhere). We both have to pay €1.20. We had not changed any bills yet and credit cards still do not work. Again we push the “help” button. This time the lady lets us know that we can go to a another toll booth at the right which does take bills. There are no cars behind us, so we push the bikes back and ride to the other booth. And indeed our Euro bills are accepted. We get coins back and the gate opens.

When we stop for a quick lunch and look at the map, we see that we still have to cross a lot of coastal villages. Armed with our credit cards, bills and coins we decide to give the highway another go. The next gate we face is in Italy and is a ticket machine. Peter takes a ticket, the gate opens and he rides on until just after the gate. I wait for my ticket, but there in none. It does not matter how many times I press the red button, no ticket. The gate is still open, so I join Peter. “OK, will go without a ticket”, I say a little nervous. “Let me do the talking, you ‘ll be fine” he replies.

Van Route Napoleon naar Via Aurelia And he is right. The toll booths in Italy are a lot more customer friendly and accept all payment methods. We stand side by side, Peter puts the ticket in the machine, pays the fee and counts down: “Three, two, one, GO”. Together we drive away from the booth at the same time. Perfect, we should have done that before. (I must admit I looked in my mirror for a long time expecting the police to chase us, but nothing happened) .

We drive for a while on a scenic road along the coast and then find a hotel on the seafront of Spotorno. The motors can be parked in the garage under the hotel. We are welcomed by a young guy who does not speak any English. Unfortunately we hardly speak enough Italian to enter into a normal conversation, but with hand signs we come a long way. In the lobby, the television is on. A broadcast of BBCs Top Gear which is dubbed in Italian. It’s no wonder that we could not work it out in English .

After a delicious breakfast with lots of sweet rolls we hand in the key. We get a pack of cookies for the road. On the promenade of Spotorno, we can already see ’the boot’ of Italy. After we drove to the east for a while, we will now mainly drive to the south.

In France we followed the Route Napoleon for a long time. In Italy we now ride on the Via Aurelia. It is a beautiful road that winds along the steep coast in the north of Italy. Sometimes right beside the sea and then through villages. It is Saturday and the Italians spend it outside. Walking, running and especially cycling. We pass large groups of cyclists who seem to have no trouble with the climbs we face. Everyone looks very neat, clothes and sunglasses adapted to the activity.

Van Route Napoleon naar Via Aurelia At the end of the morning, the Via Aurelia brings us to Genua, the largest seaport in Italy. It does not take long before we are completely stuck in traffic. We immediately get our first lesson of the crash course ‘Italian driving’. It soon becomes clear that no one actually adheres to the traffic rules. If we drive according to the set speed limit, we are overtaken by everyone. Single track roads are used as a two-lane roads. Double parking is standard, even if it means that no one can pass. Flashing lights are not installed on the cars in Italy. Horns on the other hand are, and they are used constantly.

We share the road with cars, buses, motorcycles and a lot of scooters. Especially the scooters shoot passed us on both sides. After we have been driving through the city for over an hour (during which time the GPS again proves to be essential) we are fed up. We throw the traffic rules out of the window. We ride along side with the scooters to the front of the line before the traffic lights, zigzagging between the cars and pulling up hard when the light turns green, after which we drive through the then empty streets of Genoa at high speed. This is a lot better and before we know it we are out of the city again on the Via Aurelia.

The road turns away from the coast and winds into the hills. The more curves there are in the roads, the more motorbikes we encounter. The sun has not yet been everywhere and in the shadow of the hills it is still quite chilly. The trees are still in leaf and colour orange and red. Some parts of the roads are still wet.

Van Route Napoleon naar Via Aurelia In yet another curve to the right, I suddenly lie on the ground. My engine slides away under me and scrapes on the road. A little surprised, I get up and look back. I see Peter getting up from the ground as well. His bikes is just like mine on the asphalt. ” Everything OK?” I hear over the intercom. Yes everything OK. Together we pick up the bikes, while an Italian man stops the cars. After a short inspection we conclude that the bikes are OK. The handguards and mirrors are scratched, the handlebar on Peter his bikes is slightly bent and the bags on the right side have holes in the outer layer of the fabric. The inner bags are OK, the luggage rack is still straight and the bike start without problems.

What made us fall is still a mystery. Oil on the road, our knobby tires, the wet road, riding the curve wrongly, too much or too little gas, a combination of all this? Maybe just bad luck. We decide to turn around and get on the highway again. There are a lot less curves and that is great for now. We drive all the way to Pisa and together go through the toll booth again.

Van Route Napoleon naar Via Aurelia At the end of the afternoon we drive up the driveway of a Bed & Breakfast. We are welcomed by Claudio, who together with his mother runs B & B Alfieri. He speaks English and wants to know all about our bikes and our trip. He is a motorcyclist himself. After a peaceful night (on our left side because of the blue right hip) a basket full of sweet rolls is waiting for us in the kitchen. Claudio sits down with us and we continue talking where left off the night before. He shows us the way to the tower of Pisa and gives us tips on the route to Rome. If we leave the B&B, Claudio and his mum wave us goodbye.

The GPS is set to the Tower of Pisa. We drive passed a sign that says ’forbidden to drive for unauthorized persons’ (the traffic rules were out of the window anyway) and park our bikes in front of the tower. The local police seems to find it OK. After the photo opportunity we head south to Rome.

Distance covered to Pisa: 1,159 miles

Click here for the pictures.

| Leonie | EUROPE, France, Italy

9 Reacties (Comments) - Route Napoléon to Via Aurelia

  1. Frederike

    Wat een kleurrijke verslaglegging! Leuk hoor, zo zijn we er toch ook een beetje bij.
    Vallen is nou klaar he? Ik begrijp dat je dat even moest proberen, alles een keer meemaken, maar dat weten we dan nu… ok? 😉

  2. joke en janleen boutkam

    Hoi Peter en Leonie, wat gaaf om jullie te volgen op deze manier. Dan gaat mijn motorhart toch wel harder kloppen. Beter dan het dagelijkse ritje naar de AKZO. Ik hoop voor jullie dat je vanaf nu alleen nog maar contact met de weg via de banden hebt! Dat jullie maar veel plezier mogen beleven en dat wij via jullie weblog jullie kunnen blijven volgen. Gr. Janleen Boutkam

  3. Yvette en Peter

    Super fijn weer een stukje mee te kunnen ‘rijden’! Doe voorzichtig mag ik nooit zeggen van Peter, maar ik denk het ok? 😉 dikke kus

  4. Jan en Mariët

    gewoon een stuk makkelijker zonder verkeersregels, dus… Dikke knuffel van ons

  5. Catelijne

    Ai. Gevallen! Gaat het al weer een beetje met de blauwe zij? Ik weet inmiddels dat vallen er een beetje bij hoort, maar blijf voorzichtig hoor. Heerlijk lee, die details in je berichtjes. Je ziet het helemaal voor je dat gehannes met handschoenen muntjes en kaartjes bij die tolpoortjes. Succes morgen bij de oversteek! Xxx caat

  6. Gerard

    Zo te lezen wordt het niet alleen een leuk verhaal om te lezen, maar ook spannend! Ik wens jullie alle goeds!

  7. "tuinhaas"

    We genieten van jullie verhalen en kijken iedere dag uit naar een volgend avontuur. Vooral de kilometers die nu komen zijn voor ons vreemd en nieuw. Geniet er van en zeker niet meer vallen!! Het zal er vast warmer zijn. In ieder geval een mooi Kerst zonder sneeuw met prachtige vergezichten. Groetjes en liefs Eilke – Bene.

  8. Mieke

    Hoihoi, wat een verhaal weer. Ondanks jullie flinke schuiver zien jullie gelukkig erg vrolijk uit. Kan ook aan die heerlijke pizza liggen :)

  9. Lill & Peter

    Gelukkig goed gedaan, maar schrikken ja!
    Spannend! :)