Ready, Set, Swoon

When you mention touring in Italy what comes to mind? Pasta? The Coliseum? Cypress lined drives of Tuscany?  Yes, there is that, but there is so much more. As a passenger you take in all the views, along centuries old winding roads. It’s a never ending parade of picturesque scenes between the small hill towns of Marche, Umbria, Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany.  Then there’s the food. Just the special local dishes of like wild boar, incredible table wines would be enough to bring anyone back again. The wonderfully friendly people of Italy make this a great riding destination. Everyone is so engaged with the social joys of life.  The sheer romance of the place captures one’s attention. Couples in the park talking and kissing.  A group of old men playing rounds of Bocce Ball.  Large groups of friends out for the oh so common 4 hour long dinner.  The couples that line the walled parapets of Pienza to watch the spectacular sunset.  All the scenes you pass by tell a story of relationships. This is what Italy is to a passenger. It’s not just the pretty views everywhere; it’s how each view tells a story of Italy’s “La Dolce Vita.”

Oh my god you have to try this

Italy is a country that sells more food-based tours than any other in the world.  Once there, you can understand why.  The fresh ingredients, the simplicity of everyday items, the local spices and the love of good food permeates this country. Every region has it’s specialty dishes based on the terrain and weather. Much like those fantastic wines that need the right balance of soil, rain, drainage & sun, each regional dish is a reflection of the locality.  This means you must try the pasta Carbonara in Rome. In Bologna, you must try theTagliatelle al ragù di cinghiale, which is a beautiful, hearty and rich spaghetti with wild boar sauce. Foodies will gasp at the sight of Strangozzi al Tartufo in Orvieto, for this regional dish is served with a huge mound of shaved black truffle on top. Italians LOVE their food, and no meal makes this more evident than dinner.  This is not just the end of the day meal. This is a time for friendship, family, love and laughter.  Combine this with outstanding dishes, splendid wine, and it’s easy to see why typical Italian dinners last 3-4 hours. Make sure you go on a diet beforehand so you can still fit into those motorcycle pants the 7th day of the tour.

The best seat for the show

Hollywood loves those cypress tree lined drives in Tuscany.  So much so that they will often film the same one from different angles. The tree lined drives are beautiful, but they are not all in Tuscany and it’s not just about cypress trees. Gorgeous sycamore lined roads abound in Marche. The olive lined roads roll over the countryside in Umbria.  Outside of Rome, there are dense pockets of jungle like greenery between expansive hazelnut orchards. It’s all about seeing the hidden backroads of Italy.  For rider and passenger both, the tour route keeps you entertained. There’s so many curves, riders often find themselves looking forward to a bit of straight road for a rest. For passengers, there’s so many romance novel style vistas, that sometimes it’s a relief to see the whimsey free zone of an industrial park or large super market. For excitement, who needs to wait in line at an amusement park? The mountain passes of Raticosa and Sambuca are a thrill ride that Ducati uses to test it’s latest models.

Park where tourist buses can’t – go where tourists never do

You are not a tourists, you are a travelers.  Doing it on two wheels means you’ll get in and out of picturesque hot spots faster as well as savor places off the beaten path. The stops in hilltop towns are just magical.  Generally you stop every 90 minutes, with small cappuccino and espresso stops in the mid-morning and afternoon, and a longer stop for lunch.  Remember, cappuccinos are only in the morning, as you do not have milk in drinks after 11am in Italy.  Take time to wander the narrow cobbled streets of Radicofani.  Walking along the lover’s lane to the walled parapet of Pienza and see the vast valley below.  Explore the towers of San Gimignano. See the enchanting town of Civita de Bagnoregio, perched on an butte of tufo rock, accessible only by a single narrow bridge.  Stand in the immense plaza where the Palio di Siena, Siena’s famous horse race happens every year. See the pageantry of Siena’s districts marching and rallying their fans. These are the romantic and adventurous moments in Italy.

You’re taking me to an industrial factory?

Every dedicated motorcycle rider wants to visit the Ducati plant but what about passengers? It’s actually interesting! The tour isn’t just informative, it’s inspiring. What a great place to work! The medium sized factory is of course staffed with local Italians but far more women than most would think. It’s fun to see eyes get wide as a young Italian women quickly and masterfully assemble high power engines. The touching moment is when a new motorcycle completes it’s journey and is started for the first time. You realize this machine is going to be someones pride and joy and you watched it start for the first time. The Museum takes a look back at it’s first machines all the way to the most recent World Superbike and MotoGP machines.  This is true Ducatista holy ground, with probably the most desired gift shop to get your holiday shopping done early.

Still Impressive after 2000 Years

To top everything off, your tour’s arrival and departure point is the Eternal City of Rome.  It may seem a bit touristy, but then Rome’s been doing tourism for thousands of years. They are good at it and there’s plenty worth seeing. This is a city that should be explored for it’s cultural history, and it’s contributions to the world. There is nothing like walking in the coliseum, and sitting on a stone bench that held thousands of spectators for hundreds of years.  Walk through the remains of the Roman Forum and picture it as it originally was, built with streets of white marble.  Cuddle on the Spanish Steps with your rider. This is the gathering place for local Romans before heading out for the night. Stand in the Pantheon at noon and watch how the sun’s rays enter the building through the oculus.  Stroll along the top of the hill along the Trinita dei Monti next to the Villa Medici for sunset views over the city.  Take your love to the Trevi Fountain, which has been fully restored after nearly 2 years and looks better now than in the old movies.  The proper way to do the coin toss is to stand with you back to the fountain and toss with your right hand over your left shoulder into the fountain, one coin to return to Rome, two for romance, and three for wedding your true love.  It probably comes as no surprise that the fountain brings in an average of 3000 euros a day which is used to subsidize a supermarket for the poor in Rome.

So they just go round and round?

If you aren’t a fan of motorcycle racing then idea of seeing a race live sounds deadly dull. The reality is quite different, especially in Italy. By now you understand that Italians are a passionate emotional people, especially about things they enjoy. Now imagine joining 100,000 Italians to experience something they love, like MotoGP.  The old adage, “If you want a crowd, start a fight” rings true here. While there has been consistent champions in MotoGP, the battles have been close lately, which means everyone wants to see. Even if you don’t know all the riders names you’re still going to have an amazing time just because of the sheer spectacle of it. This is modern Italy, acting like Italians have for centuries.

Chauffeured about at speed

While a helmet and touring jacket would never grace the cover a romance novel, we passengers are happy to ditch the tiara and say “This princess wants to go for ride”. Authenticity, adventure and the thrill of seeing a whole foreign world around us is what we get. It’s exhilarating, touching and brings the two of you closer together. You stop for lunch in tiny hilltop towns that haven’t changed in hundreds of years.  You marvel at yet another incredible meal. You stay in a small boutique hotels, or country villas. You walk ancient streets arm in arm on an evening excursion to the fountains in Piazza Navona. You laugh as you look left and right and see everything your rider is missing.

Who wouldn’t want to luxuriate in a pool with a very local glass of wine, overlooking a vineyard? Will you make that special find at a butcher shop in San Gimignano that sells their own seasoning packets from locals herbs? Will you smell the flowers and grapes ripening on the vine as you whisk through the Chianti region? Will you ride the glass elevator together to the top of the Vittorio Emanuel Monument for views over Rome? These are pieces of what could happen but this trip is your story. Where will these moments fit into the romance novel of the two of you?

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