Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Views from Genova , Italy...

 The coastal views along the road from Nice to Genova


 A tribute to Ghandi in Italy?



 A statue full of female body parts, I am not sure what it means but it looks very Italian!


 I guess Janis Joplin is still popular in Italy... ;)




Ciao da Firenze ( Hello from Florence!)

Dear Family & Friends,

One week and 1600 miles down and tonight we are in Florence, Italy...
We left Nice this morning on what we thought would be an easy half day ride......
The first two hours we rode along the coast from France and quickly passed into Italy.. What a difference the E.U. makes to traveling in Europe. No boarder crossings, no passport inspection, no issues with motorcycle registration or insurance. We just rode by a sign that said "Italy" and we were there! Our first stop was Genova , a sea port along the northern coast.. I read where they had just remodeled the wharf area into a tourist area so we stopped for lunch.. It was ok but nothing spectacular. Most of the sea coast is a very active shipping port and not anything special... Still as we ate lunch it was an amazing feeling to think that almost 600 years ago a sailor lived and sailed from there and would someday discover America and have Columbus Day named after him.. ;)
Now Genova is a fairly big city and very busy so we got our first real experience with Italian drivers!  Leave 6" between you and another car and five mopeds will squeeze in there, leave 1 foot and a taxi will cut you off! By the time we left downtown we has our black belt in combat motorcycling! What was amazing is that thousands of these mopeds buzz all over town with young Italian girls riding them in sun dresses, flip flops, a minimal helmet all while smoking a cigarette .. I felt like a total wimp in a full face helmet, motorcycle boots, gloves, carbon fiber pants and a motorcycle jacket... I am sure I would fair better if I went down but the women weren't suffering in the massive heat!!
From there we went back to the coastal highway and figured in two hours we would be in Florence site seeing.....WRONG!!!
As soon as we got going the most massive traffic jam I have ever seen. Absolutely stopped traffic for 10 to 20 miles.. When it did move we would go half a mile and the sit for 20 minutes.. One time we stopped in a massively long tunnel, in the heat, breathing in diesel truck exhaust all around us.... This was simply not acceptable so we learned to drive "Italian".. We saw the other motorcyclist lane splitting with inches or less to  spare so now was the time to show our mettle..... We actually got pretty good at it and passed miles and miles of traffic... At that point we had earned our second degree black belt in motorcycle combat riding...
At one point along the way we stopped for about ten minutes with another group of motorcyclist.. They did not speak much English but we were all motorcyclists which is a common language and when they saw our California license plates and grey hair we were all smiles and friends...
When the traffic finally cleared and we could ride full speed we were about 3 hours behind schedule... We arrived this evening in Florence to a nice balmy 104 degrees!!! I am sure this is where Dante's Inferno was written!
When my friend Duane finally took of his helmet he was not a happy camper!!! If looks could kill I would be a pillar of salt......
I just told him he earned a couple extra glasses of wine tonight and he will forget it all. I have been on enough long distance motorcycle trips to know that once in a while you are going to have a "challenging" day... ;)
Just a few photos from Genova today on my blog.....  Will try and have some good photos tomorrow....

Jason

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