Following a walking tour of Florence on the arrival day, the tour gets down to the business of riding on Monday. With the destination of the seaside town of Livorno in mind, your routing choices may include a visit the city of towers, San Gimignano, and a ride through the impressive walls of Monteriggioni Castle. Then it is a simple task to follow the curves (and there are plenty!) to the seaside. Or visit and explore Pisa, with its famous leaning tower before our rendezvous at the dock.
Cross the Tyrrhenian Sea
Enjoy the comfort of a top-class cabin as the overnight ferry makes its way to Italy’s emerald in the Mediterranean, Sardinia. This beautiful, wild island has been inhabited for 8000 years, and is now criss-crossed with perfect motorcycle roads.
After disembarking from the ferry we waste no time getting into the mountains. A perfectly set double-overnight in Fonni means twisty roads in every direction. This little mountain village has more to offer than challenging pavement. Many of the homes are painted with murals depicting life in the mountains in the last 100 years.
Tight, twisty roads relax and open up approaching Cagliari, the Island’s largest city, and home to almost one-third of the Sardinians. The old section, Castello, is still guarded by 13th-century towers overlooking medieval city walls.
All-in-all Cagliari is a bit too busy for us, so after a visit we continue down the coast to overnight in Paula, a town of more inviting size with perfect white-sand beaches. Nearby are the ancient remains of Sardinia’s first city, Nora.
A wonderfully sweeping road with endless views of the sea is our magic carpet for the ride around the southwest coast. Bosa, the ride’s destination, is a tiny urban area built in a riot of color. Spectacular sunsets are the norm here, and should we have the luck to enjoy one, the pastels of nature to the west will compliment the pastels of man to the east!
Our last stop on Sardinia is right on the northern tip of the island. Looking north, across the Strait of Bonifacio we see our next destination – the French Island of Corsica. Rather than look ahead, let’s enjoy the here and now and relax in the little village of Santa Teresa. A walk down the beach, a coffee in a café overlooking the gulf, or a drink on the terrace will be an ideal way to end another great day on Sardinia. On Sunday morning it is time to set sail, destination France, and the island of Corsica, birthplace of Napoleon. Hey, that sounds grander than “let’s take an hour long ferry trip to the other island,” doesn’t it?
If Sardinia is an emerald, Corsica is a diamond – in the rough. The fantastic roads, stunning views, miles of coastline and breathtaking sunsets are there. Like Sardinia, Corsica has a small population inland, and is a place you may have all to yourself day after day.
Magnificent mountain scenery and a very dramatic coastline sum up Corsica, and it begins with the approach to Bonifacio. La Haute Ville (the high village) seems to be built over the ocean, precipitously placed on the very edge of impressive chalk cliffs which have been undermined by the sea. Unbelievably, it keeps getting better. Olmeto, the next stop, features another spectacular hotel, and bets are that the dinner on the patio overlooking the bay is one that will never be forgotten!
Rides on the free day in Olmeto follow impossibly twisty roads into the mountains. Those who ride will not be disappointed, and those who lounge at the hotel will be equally satisfied. It is just another perfect day on the Island Interlude!
As this is a motorcycle tour, amazing roads and scenery are always welcome. The ride inland, to Corte, is via the “Stairs of the Holly Queen,” through Corsica’s most impressive gorge. Breathtaking doesn’t quite say enough! Our accommodation in Corte is perfectly situated on a mountain stream, and the meal here is typically Corsican – hearty, delicious, and unique.
Options abound as we travel from Corte to Saint Florent. Some of Corsica’s wildest coastal roads, perched high above the pounding sea, lead to Calvi. The road seems impossibly situated in places, and makes California’s Highway 1 look like a superhighway. From Calvi the route passes by one perfect beach after another.
The inland routes follow roads that must be experienced to be described. The fact that people are living up here, “miles from nowhere” is remarkable. But today all roads lead to the water’s edge in Saint Florent, which, with its port and soft sand beach, is called the St. Tropez of Corsica. Here we enjoy another double-overnight in a superb hotel.
The restless will likely spend the free-day traveling around Cap Corse, the finger of Corsica. The Corniche road circling the Cap was built by Napoleon III. Prior to this, Cap Corse was cut off from the rest of the Island and accessible only by sea, leading to the moniker “an island within an island.” A ride around the Cap offers stunning and varied scenery on a never-ending coil of pavement. The trip down the west coast of the Cap offers wonderful views of the desert and mountains of the Haute Corse to the south. The road for much of the trip sticks to the very edge of the land. On the west side of the “finger” the towns are located high up the cliffs. Those on the east side are seaside fishing villages.
Corsica provides for some fabulous once-in-a-lifetime rides. Often known as the Mountain in the Sea, Corsica has more mountains and rivers than any Mediterranean island. But Corsica isn't only about riding. Towns such as Calvi, Bastia, Ajaccio, and Bonifacio all offer great insights into understanding this island. While the coastal roads offer grip and continuous views of the Mediterranean sea, inland there are enchanted valleys with alpine scenery and green hills with prehistoric settlements to visit. It will be difficult to say goodbye to what must be the loveliest place on earth, but… Tuscany awaits.
From Corsica sail across the Tyrrhenian Sea to disembark at Livorno. Here we get a sample - a small, but piquant, sample of Tuscany. Along the coastline in Castiglionello, inland to the Etruscan city of Volterra, and finally to the walled city of Lucca. Saturday is market day in Lucca. Walk along the city walls to the other side of town and spend time browsing the stalls and mingling with the locals. This is what Italy is all about!
The tour wraps up in Florence, and the ride from Lucca to our hotel high above the city is simply the icing on the cake. More turns, unique sights and great riding take us back to where we began this great adventure. Indeed, this magical trip will live long in your memory.
-Rider - $7,860
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