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Italy Bound - Suggestions in Tuscany/Umbria?


Mr_Yuk

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Julie and I are heading to Italy with three friends at the beginning of May. We are renting bikes in Rome and motorcycling around Tuscany and Umbria for two weeks. I have studied the great site Bestbikingroads.com to find some interesting roads, but am always open to suggestions. Got any? How about thoughts on weather?

 

Thanks,

Rod

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We saw sport bikes around Volterra, and to the east of Volterra around Castel San Gimignano. Unfortunately we were in a VW Golf.

 

Also, north of Lucca around Coreglia Antilminelli and Ghivizano we were wishing for bikes. North of Lucca

 

Lucca was out favorite Tuscan town, though I have little good to say about the inexpensive local wine, and it isn't hilly.

 

Don't drive into the old towns. You'll get a ticket in the mail a year later.

 

Have a nice trip!

 

Jan

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Francois_Dumas

I'm an Umbria fan, mainly because we have friends there and know the area better than Toscany.

 

The two most important places to visit are Perugia and Assissi when you are in Umbria. Don't miss out on either!

 

But there are many wonderful little towns and villages in that area alone. Like Montefalco (great and famous wine !), Spoleto (http://www.bellaumbria.net/Spoleto/home_eng.htm ), Todi (see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todi ), Trevi (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Italy/Umbria/Perugia/Trevi/Trevi/home.html), Bevagna ( http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Italy/Umbria/Perugia/Bevagna/Bevagna/home.html).

 

I also have two nice places to stay if you are looking for something slightly remote and quiet.

 

One is a 'Agriturismo' near Massa Martana (which you also may visit.. it is wonderful little village that was largely destroyed by a big earthquake and has now been fully restored).

An Agriturismo is a farm that caters for tourists, with bed and breakfast and a regional kitchen. An apartment goes for some 75 Euros a night.

 

The other is with Dutch friends of ours who are now living near Perugia, in a very small and quiet village.

If you're interested, let me know.

 

Oh, and the weather can be very nice, but also still pretty cold in early May ! So be prepared !

 

 

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This is where I'd stop and ask for some local info. about roads and places to see. :thumbsup:

 

Great idea. We are renting a couple of Ducati ST3's and have hopes of touring the Ducati factory. I'll use the opportunity to ask about where they test ride their new machines. :grin:

 

Thanks,

Rod

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We saw sport bikes around Volterra, and to the east of Volterra around Castel San Gimignano. Unfortunately we were in a VW Golf.

 

Also, north of Lucca around Coreglia Antilminelli and Ghivizano we were wishing for bikes. North of Lucca

 

Lucca was out favorite Tuscan town, though I have little good to say about the inexpensive local wine, and it isn't hilly.

 

Don't drive into the old towns. You'll get a ticket in the mail a year later.

 

Have a nice trip!

 

 

Jan

 

Thanks for the info and the pictures! I've got to find that bridge, awesome.

How far did you go north of Lucca? I am looking at getting into North Tuscany, but I am having some problem finding places on the internet for lodging.

 

Thanks again Jan.

 

Rod

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Thanks Francois. We have plans to visit some of those villages but I had not come across Montefalco. I'll check it out. We are spending 3 nights in Perugia. What do you think of staying in Narcia? I'll PM you about your potential lodging.

 

Thanks a lot!

 

Rod

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We stayed in Lucca. Day trip. Went as far as Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. That was a zoo and we vacated immediately w/o stopping. Then up the hillsides, without a useful map, following our noses to the towns we saw perched up above. No services up there on the hillsides, just peasants living in medieval walled villages. Maybe our best day in Italy.

 

The place I wish we had spent more time was Montalcino. Beautiful, quiet.

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When we did Northern Italy in '08 we found some great B&B's in "Karen Brown's Guide to Inns and Bed and Breakfasts in Italy," or something like that. I haven't looked to see if that firm has moved online, or not, but we were very pleased with what we found. We just connected several of them with the riding distance we were trying to make per day and had a great time. The best food we had was found by asking the inn owners.

Good riding

Jim

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When we did Northern Italy in '08 we found some great B&B's in "Karen Brown's Guide to Inns and Bed and Breakfasts in Italy," or something like that. I haven't looked to see if that firm has moved online, or not, but we were very pleased with what we found. We just connected several of them with the riding distance we were trying to make per day and had a great time. The best food we had was found by asking the inn owners.

Good riding

Jim

 

Thanks Jim. I'll try to find that. You were riding a motorcycle? How many miles per day did you do. One thing I read was to keep it fairly conservative, which worked out well for the Pyrenees. I am currently planning on about 170 miles per day for this trip. Is that reasonable?

 

Thanks,

Rod

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We stayed in Lucca. Day trip. Went as far as Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. That was a zoo and we vacated immediately w/o stopping. Then up the hillsides, without a useful map, following our noses to the towns we saw perched up above. No services up there on the hillsides, just peasants living in medieval walled villages. Maybe our best day in Italy.

 

The place I wish we had spent more time was Montalcino. Beautiful, quiet.

 

We will be doing some day trips out of Monticatini, which is close to Lucca. We will be going through Montalcino but decided to stay in Montepluciano over night. I'll not plan on staying in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. Thanks Jan!

 

Rod

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Rod:

 

Well, I went for my "fall drive" in October in Italy. Although I played with the idea of renting a motorcycle I stuck with a cage for my first trip to Italy.

 

For road suggestions check out the Central Italy Motorcycle Tours suggested rides. I found the Rick Steves books the best overall guides including his driving suggestions. You usually can't ride into the walled cities (including Montepulciano) unless you have a reservation at a hotel within the walls.

 

Excuse me if you have already been there and I'm just repeating what you already know, but if you are renting within Rome expect to take one to two hours to get out. I picked up my car from the Termini Rail Station and it was a good two hours until we were actually into the countryside. Morning traffic. Garmin Nuvi 750W with 2008 Europe maps was indispensible.

 

One thing I noticed about the people on motorcycles is that they looked really hot walking around in all those hill towns (Montepulciano, Montalcino, Volterra, San Gimignano, Siena) with all their equipment on after parking just outside the walls.

 

Having said all that, what I would love to go back and do on a motorcycle was S 438-451 from Siena to Buonconvento, SR 325 Prato to Rioviggio. The last one was an "error" in auto routing from Florence to Bologna that I knew was a winner since the motorcycles outnumbered the autos 5 to 1.

 

I stayed one week in an agriturisimo near San Gimignano and I wouldn't have wanted to ride an RT on the dirt road into the villa but it was a great place to stay.

 

Michael Cassidy

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Rod:

 

Well, I went for my "fall drive" in October in Italy. Although I played with the idea of renting a motorcycle I stuck with a cage for my first trip to Italy.

 

For road suggestions check out the Central Italy Motorcycle Tours suggested rides. I found the Rick Steves books the best overall guides including his driving suggestions. You usually can't ride into the walled cities (including Montepulciano) unless you have a reservation at a hotel within the walls.

 

Excuse me if you have already been there and I'm just repeating what you already know, but if you are renting within Rome expect to take one to two hours to get out. I picked up my car from the Termini Rail Station and it was a good two hours until we were actually into the countryside. Morning traffic. Garmin Nuvi 750W with 2008 Europe maps was indispensible.

 

One thing I noticed about the people on motorcycles is that they looked really hot walking around in all those hill towns (Montepulciano, Montalcino, Volterra, San Gimignano, Siena) with all their equipment on after parking just outside the walls.

 

Having said all that, what I would love to go back and do on a motorcycle was S 438-451 from Siena to Buonconvento, SR 325 Prato to Rioviggio. The last one was an "error" in auto routing from Florence to Bologna that I knew was a winner since the motorcycles outnumbered the autos 5 to 1.

 

I stayed one week in an agriturisimo near San Gimignano and I wouldn't have wanted to ride an RT on the dirt road into the villa but it was a great place to stay.

 

Michael Cassidy

 

Thanks Michael.

 

CIMT that you refer to is where we are renting our motorcycles. Nice folks. I have never been to Italy so I appreciate your advice. We are picking up the motorcycles on a Saturday afternoon and leaving Rome on a Sunday morning. I am hoping that this timing will help us avoid the normal Rome traffic. I have a Garmin 276C with City Navigator Europe that I plan to mount on the Ducati that I am renting.

 

I already have the Buoncovento to Siena road on my route (lucky me) and I just added your suggestion of Prato to Rioviggio to my MapSource. We will try to take that when we visit Bologna on a day trip.

 

Great suggestions.

Rod

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Rod,

We're very careful journal writers, however, I'm in Canada and the journals for that trip are in NC! The longest day we had was from Monte Carol to a town about 70 km beyond Florence. Another day was Florence to Milan. My guess was the average was 200 - 240 miles most days.

We rented a HD [in our days before BMW] in Zug, Switzerland and returned it there.

I've written articles on our adventures for a couple of club mags that contain our learnings from later trips. If you want to read theml, send me your email address.

Good travels,

Jim

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Hi Rod,

 

464582319_A6D5G-M.jpg

 

If you get to Lucca and have an extra day, Highway S12 heads north toward Modena. IIRC, the bridge isn't too far from Lucca. I was lucky with the weather, sunny and mid-70s, especially since I had ridden to Croatia and back in some of the heaviest rains I'd even seen. The S12 climbs through some of the prettiest scenery in Tuscany and the road is to die for...but don't. As you get nearer to Modena the road straightens out and it's then you want to turn around and go back, nothing to see in the north 'til you reach the Lakes. Round trip would be about 250 kms, rough estimate. In the alternative, before reaching Modena, turn east toward and then around Bologna until you find highway P65 that goes to Florence, if that's where you're headed.

 

I have a Garmin with City Navigator. The Italy parts are often very unreliable. Dead reckoning works just about as well, so make sure you have good paper maps.

 

Should be a great trip for you. Enjoy!

 

Paul

 

 

 

 

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If you get to Lucca and have an extra day, Highway S12 heads north toward Modena. IIRC, the bridge isn't too far from Lucca. I was lucky with the weather, sunny and mid-70s, especially since I had ridden to Croatia and back in some of the heaviest rains I'd even seen. The S12 climbs through some of the prettiest scenery in Tuscany and the road is to die for...but don't. As you get nearer to Modena the road straightens out and it's then you want to turn around and go back, nothing to see in the north 'til you reach the Lakes. Round trip would be about 250 kms, rough estimate. In the alternative, before reaching Modena, turn east toward and then around Bologna until you find highway P65 that goes to Florence, if that's where you're headed.

 

I have a Garmin with City Navigator. The Italy parts are often very unreliable. Dead reckoning works just about as well, so make sure you have good paper maps.

 

Should be a great trip for you. Enjoy!

 

Paul

 

 

 

 

Paul,

 

Do you know the name of the bridge or what town it is near? I see a Ponte a Moriano and a Ponte del Diavolo, either one of those? I have S12 on my list for possible day rides out of Montecatini (we are there for three days). I also have S65 from Florence towards Bologna on my list. Sad to hear that City Navigator has errors, I use it a lot. I have version 9.

 

Thanks for the great advice!

 

Rod

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I read a very interesting article about Tuscanny in the February issue of Motorcyclist magazine. Dexter Ford took the Edelweiss tour there. Sounds like he had a great time.

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I have a Garmin with City Navigator. The Italy parts are often very unreliable. Dead reckoning works just about as well, so make sure you have good paper maps.

 

Paul

 

 

Paul,

 

Sad to hear that City Navigator has errors, I use it a lot. I have version 9.

 

Rod

 

Although City Navigator Europe did some odd autorouting at times, and didn't warn me about the restricted travel zones, I can't say I found it any worse in Italy then it is here in North America. The first time I used it in the San Gimignano area it got me there with some odd routing and probably wasted 10 minutes. But it only took me a couple of days to figure better ways to get around the area. Dead reckoning will work well in the countryside and when headed from town to town. But good luck getting in/out of Rome, Siena, Florence and Bologna by paper map without someone who knows their way. The roads are impossibly narrow with restricted visibility and it sure isn't obvious what direction you are really headed. Add in roads packed with aggressive drivers/scooters with varying driving skills and all the signs in Italian and all I can say is that I found the GPS invaluable.

 

When I was in La Spezia headed to Riomaggiore there was an accident blocking the "signed" route to the Cinque Terre. I set the detour on the Garmin and it took me on laneways and a one lane road through Biassa that was so twisty it had me nauseated but sure got me there. Had to wait for oncoming traffic in lots of corners but it was fun.

 

Mike Cassidy

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But good luck getting in/out of Rome, Siena, Florence and Bologna by paper map without someone who knows their way.

 

We managed Sienna and Florence by dead reckoning, but it was stressful and our maps were completely useless. In Sienna the entrance to the restricted zone was either unmarked, or we missed it, and I ended up driving into the old town without realizing we were doing so. Once in, it's one way all the way out and our hotelier had to come with us to show us the way. 10 months later we received a notice and a modest charge from the rental car co. It said we were getting a 200 Euro ticket from the city of Sienna on that date separately. So far the ticket has never arrived.

 

Jan

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But good luck getting in/out of Rome, Siena, Florence and Bologna by paper map without someone who knows their way.

 

We managed Sienna and Florence by dead reckoning, but it was stressful and our maps were completely useless. In Sienna the entrance to the restricted zone was either unmarked, or we missed it, and I ended up driving into the old town without realizing we were doing so. Once in, it's one way all the way out and our hotelier had to come with us to show us the way. 10 months later we received a notice and a modest charge from the rental car co. It said we were getting a 200 Euro ticket from the city of Sienna on that date separately. So far the ticket has never arrived.

 

Jan

 

This is a test, except I don't know the right answer. Here is a map of Siena from my Mapsource program showing an auto-routing to parking at the stadium (green area). Do you think this avoids the restricted areas? Thanks,

Rod

 

Siena.jpg

 

 

 

 

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Mike,

 

Agreed that paper maps are mostly useless in towns, especially when on a bike. There you're effectively condemned to rely on the GPS.

 

Southern Italy was the worst for the GPS. For example, and there were many, I entered a street address for a hotel in Vico Equense, between Castellammare and Sorrento. Just before Castellamarre I saw a road sign for a by-pass to Vico but chose to follow the GPS. It took me off the highway and through Castellammare's old town with its tiny streets, one-ways, traffic lights (some even worked) and then brought me out on the other end at the by-pass! Twenty minutes of anxiety instead of three or four cruising on the freeway (we were in our new car!). Then it couldn't find the hotel even though it was dead on the road, although below it on the water, to Vico and we passed it, ending up with the checkered flag at the train station, 8 kms away.

 

Northern Italy is better. Maybe it has something to do with the Mafia still running Naples and 'the Boot'.

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Rod,

 

Good ole Google Earth! Its the Ponte di Diavolo, south of Baghi di Lucca. About 15-20 kms north of Lucca. You should be able to get to S12 without going through Lucca but try not to miss too much of S12, it's all wonderful.

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Rod:

 

That autorouting looks to avoid the ZTL, but it will be more obvious once you get there and see the city walls. Just remember don't blast past one of these signs:

 

352882166_bb7b40bb8d.jpg

 

Your hotel in Rome may even be in a ZTL, but you just have to check with them to see if they can register your rental plates for access.

 

Here's a better map for planning parking in Siena: Travelscape Siena map. I parked once on the street near the Porta Romano but it is over 500 m from there to Il Campo. The parkade near the Porta San Marco was more convenient (and higher on the hill) but I didn't consider getting in/out on a motorcycle. If you plan on parking near the Fortezza (where you indicate on the map), then it is very well signed on the major road (?Stadio Parking?) and I would try to stay on the ringroad and then Strada di Pescala as long as possible to get closer rather then using those narrow streets that Mapquest is sending you on.

 

Mike Cassidy

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Hey Rod

 

I worked a lot with a company in Umbria when they were developing the A380 (it was rough going to Italy every Month) and stayed in a little hill town just South of Assisi called Spello.

 

Hotel Bocci This is the place I stayed at. It has amazing views, good food and there is parking right across the street that is secure. I will say that I am biased and enjoyed Umbria more than Tuscany because of the great people I met there. They really took me in and made me feel welcome. I will try and see tonight if I have any of my Italian pictures of the area. I didn't have a moto there, but I had nice Alpha Sports Coupe that I took into the mountains for a grand day of exploring and ended up on the other side of the country. It is a worthy place.

 

Tom

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A big "THANKS" to all of you! Your suggestions have really been a big help and I have studied/incorporated all of them. Your pictures have also been fun to look at and helpful in planning.

 

THANK YOU, seriously,

Rod

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