Oktoberfest is the World’s largest County Fair
The dynamic city of Munich is our gathering point offering a taste of Germany, Bavarian style! The Corsican Caper begins at the Oktoberfest where we will enjoy an evening out with 30,000 new friends! Spend the day enjoying beer, ride a rollercoaster or two, or just sit back and people watch while enjoying a traditional Bavarian meal. No matter how you spend your time at Oktoberfest, it will be an event to remember!
Munich is also home to BMW motorcycles and automobiles, and the new BMW museum will certainly interest the motor-heads among us. Those with a lower interest for things mechanical will find excellent shopping possibilities, centuries of history, or delightful, easy riding through the Bavarian countryside. A first glimpse of the Alps might be in order as riders become acclimated with their new steeds.
Overnight in a medieval town
The first real day of riding adds another country to the 'been there' list. The quaint, compact town of Feldkirch is situated on the border between Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Our hotel sits safely within the city walls, in the shadow of "Schattenburg," Feldkirch's thirteenth-century castle.
In Europe countries sometimes pass beneath the bike as quickly as counties do in the United States. By day's end on the second day on the road two things will have happened. There will be 3 new countries in the bag, and we will have crossed the backbone of the Alps on our journey into Italy. The Italian Lakes District is a lure for tourists from around the world, with good reason. Our stay on the longest of those lakes, Lago Maggiore is in a grand hotel perfectly located on the water's edge.
After dawdling about the lake in the morning it is time for a dash to Torino, Italy, home of the 2006 Winter Olympics. To the west of the city the Alps rise as a seemingly impenetrable barrier. In fact, delightful roads over high, remote passes allow passage to the adventurer. And so we go, through the range to our first overnight in France. For some it will be time to relax, and a free day allows just that. For those with an urge to ride, the highest passes in the Alps await, but the free day means we return to a familiar hotel to enjoy yet another fantastic meal.
Dine on the French Riviera
The roads are fantastic right down to the coast in Nice, and the contrast of the rural hills and the bustling, always-in-motion high society of the French Riviera is something to behold. Following an amazing motorcycle ride to the coast over tiny mountain pass roads and through impressive gorges it is unlikely that anyone will be at all envious of the flash cars and pleasure boats found at the coast. There is little doubt that everyone will feel that they have arrived there via the best mode of transport - by motorcycle.
Cross the Mediterranean
On Sunday afternoon it is time to set sail, destination Corsica, birthplace of Napoleon. This jewel of an island in the Mediterranean is the antithesis of the Riviera. The fantastic roads, stunning views, miles of coastline and breathtaking sunsets are there. Missing is congestion, ostentatious wealth, and people. Corsica is a place you may have all to yourself and six days will only be enough to whet your appetite to return. Magnificent mountain scenery and a dramatic coastline creating the never ending succession of corners and views combine to produce spectacular riding days.
Kick off the stay on Corsica with a free day in Saint Florent which, with its port and soft sand beach, is called the St. Tropez of Corsica. Here walking, swimming, fishing, jet skiing or simply sunbathing just might replace a ride.
The restless will likely spend the 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.
Both the rested and the restless will be following the coiling pavement south to the coastal town of Piana. Two wonderful options head there. The first passes pristine beaches on the way to the fortified port town of Calvi, then turns south down the west coast. The coastal road seems impossibly situated in places, and makes California’s Highway 1 look like a superhighway.
The second possibility is via the Scala di Santa Regina, or “Stair of the Holy Queen.” As the story is told, St. Martin was in a field, ploughing, when the devil seized him and threw him on top of the Niolo (the highest part of the island). As he fell, the mountains shattered and he began to fall into the chasm. He prayed to the Virgin, and she created the Scala to allow his safe descent. Now the road through this very impressive gorge – akin to “a work of art” is the inland way to Piana.
Calanches de Piana
Both options converge a few kilometers north of Piana, as, seemingly, does all the traffic on the island, with good reason. Here is the Calanches de Piana, spiky red granite rocks jutting straight out of the sea, some rising to 1000' above sea level. The color of these rocks changes from deep orange to russet red and all the hues in between according to the time of day, and sunset – about the time of our arrival – is one of the most spectacular. So go with the flow, enjoy the views and forget the tourist traffic – it will all be gone in the morning anyway. Enjoy one of the most awe-inspiring roads in the world. Amongst the Calanches are 'Taffoni' or natural caves that provided shelter for the first men on the island.
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! From here it is a lovely journey to the southern tip of Corsica and the town of Bonifacio.
The approach to Bonifacio is very picturesque. The white wind eroded cliffs open up just enough to produce an amazing natural harbor for this seaside city perched on towering limestone cliffs. Time to turn into a tourist once again, as the boat ride out into the azure Bouches de Bonifacio is a must.
The route continues into the mountainous heart of the island and our final overnight in the Restonica Valley. Lined with some of the most spectacular glacier molded gorges on the island, the Restonica sits just below Corte. This town was a strategic stronghold in the struggle for independence, and its charm is concentrated in the old town with its maze of narrow streets.
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….
From Corsica sail across the Tyrrhenian Sea to disembark at Livorno. And here we get a sample - a small, but piquant, sample of Tuscany with a drive-by view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa as the introduction. The much more welcoming walled city of Lucca is our choice for a stop this evening. The last day on the road is one of choices (as is every day on each Beach tour!) Putter about in Lucca? Head for the hills and those last kilometers of twists and turns? Or beeline to Florence to experience both its hustle and bustle and its magic? Oh, difficult decisions, attractive options - how can it be over so soon?
From Munich through Switzerland, over the magnificent high passes in the French Alps to the Riviera, across the Mediterranean to Corsica, and finally crossing the Tyrranean Sea to Tuscany, this magical trip will live long in your memory.
Rider - $7,900.00
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