On the Italian roads

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After the humidity of the Tyrol mounts, our first kilometres in Italy marked the return of the sun. Like on the Austrian side, there were many castles along the road crossing the valley of Isarco, to reach the plains of Verona. 

The region of Trentino-South Tyrol was also rich of these breathtaking sceneries shaped by wide fields, tower bells and amazing snow-covered summits of the Alps. 

On the slope of the rivers, many orchards are growing since centuries. But apples were not the only fruits growing in the region. There were also many vines. In spite of the reputation of the poor soil, this region is famous for its terraced vineyards giving delicious red and white wine. 

After crossing the city of Bolzano, we took a nice road in the mountains. The bikers were climbing the tough 17 bends to reach the “Passo della Mendola”, while on the opposite side the other bikers were enjoying the slope like acrobats.

At the top of the summit, we enjoyed a great view over the valley. Just the time for a pic and we were back on the road, heading South. The road was going along small ponds, crossed nice little stone bridges and villages with beautiful houses in the mountains, before to reach the Lake Garda. 

In Flero, in the suburb of Brescia, we stopped at the headquarters of Givi, one of our first partners who gave us their trust. We became one of their brand ambassadors. We arrived with the flash of the cameras on the parking of their headquarters. We were warmly welcomed by Simona, our contact taking care of the Givi Explorer partnerships. Quickly, Antonio joined us, one of the key managers of the brand. We entered in the “Marketing & Direction” building. In the entrance, a big screen was projecting one of our photos with nice welcoming words. 

Next, we visited the production line of the motorcycle cases. In this factory, the process is automatised, giving the impression that robots are dancing in cages. The morning finished by visiting the showroom and the R&D area. While we were carefully listening the Antonio’s explanations, one of his colleagues were refurbishing our helmets. For lunch, we were invited by Antonio in a nice restaurant, just a few kilometres away from the office. Around the table, the discussion was more casual and more personal, about travelling and its philosophy.

The afternoon, we left Givi to get motor oil for the next (and last) service plus bearings for the side wheel. It was in a small shed specialised in mopeds mechanic that we found it. But impossible to find the bearings. Following the advice of a salesman, we went to a retailer of mechanic parts dedicated to professionals. When we explained the situation to the manager, as expected, he informed us that he do not sell to individuals. But after a small negotiation (and thanks to our sidecars…) he accepted to make an exception, and sold us the bearings in cash.

A day of our stop in Canzo was dedicated to the services. In the small courtyard of the property, we started at 9am with the (hopefully) final service of the travel, the control of the valves  and the bearing change. We were on time on our planning and we checked the spark plugs. But, Julien saw an excess of oil in the cylinders. As a precaution,  we extended the mechanical session by opening the left cylinder. Once opened, Julien saw a few wear marks. A quick call to Louis-Marie to reassure us. He confirmed that we should be able to finish the trip like that. It was 8pm when we washed our hands for enjoying the end of the day with a Spritz. 

The next day, it was the last one on the Italian roads. We crossed the beautiful rolling Asti county; spanning the famous Po, before climbing the hills edged with vineyards and reaching the Tanaro river. This valley was leading to the Mediterranean coast. We followed it to reach Menton and the French Border.

Bathing in Italian lakes

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A summer weather, a scenery looking like a watercolour, a mesmerising water with a blue-saphir colour… you get it, I didn’t resist to dive in the Lake Como!

After a stroll on the “Lungolabo”, we stopped in the shadow of a pine tree of the Parco Teresio Olivelli in the Tremezzo village.

I put my bathing suit and I went strait to the stairs whose the steps touch the water. Step by step, I went down delicately and touched the bottom of the lake. The water was transparent. Usually, I enjoy swimming the crawl. But this time, I enjoyed watching the beauty of the landscape by swimming slowly the breastroke. Around me, the panorama was beautiful. The mountains seemed diving with me in the water. In the middle of the water, I also enjoyed watching all the villas around.

In spite of the romanticism of this place, I was not alone. Around me, young Italians were also swimming. Probably, a new romantic story will start after one of this afternoon between friends, inspired of the first kiss between Anakin and the princess Amidala in the Balbianello villa, just in front of the park. This story will be added to the numerous stories written by the artists making the Lake Como, one of the most romantic natural theatres.

A swan arrived reminding me the reality. It was time to go out of the water. I went up the stairs to enjoy a shower.

Canzo – 7 days – 402 metres above sea level

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We arrived in advance in the little city of Canzo. We waited to meet the owner of the rent flat. During this spare time, we bought some groceries. When we left the supermarket, a big storm arrived and we heard the sirens of the city. We found a shelter under a lean-to next to the store. We met the owner there who gave us the keys of the rent flat. 

The rain stopped at the end of the afternoon. We took our sidecars and left the city to meet Alice and Bernard, Emilie’s parents at the airport of Milano-Malpensa. Due to the bad weather, their flight had a 45-min delay. But never mind, it was such a pleasure to see them (even if this meeting meant we were closer to the end of the trip) ! Once back to Canzo at around 11pm, we finished our day with some food to share and Moretti beers. 

After a good lie-on, we sat in the 7-seat car rent at the airport. We went towards the Como Lake and its treasures, between the Alps mountains, surrounded by colorful houses and beautiful villas. The wide blue-saphir colour lake was mesmerizing by its beauty. This beautiful natural place attracted dukes ans kings who built beautiful monuments. 

We strolled in the streets of the little village of Bellagio, located between the three arms of the lake. With some luck, we found a free space to park next to the historical center and we started to visit the Pescallo area and its little beach. The sun was reflecting in the water with an intense blue and shined on the little waves of the lake, shaped by the wind. 

In the ancient borough of fishermen, we saw the first ship Riva, this mythical wooden ship, revealing the Italian luxury. 

We continued our walk in the pedestrian streets of this touristic city. Colorful houses, stairs made of stones, many narrow paved streets: Bellagio was like a scenery of a movie. We arrived in front of the Basilica San Giacomo before to reach the top of Spartivento. On the Piazza Mazzini, the ferries were going back and forth from a side to the opposite one, a buzzing life on this ancient market square.

After finding the ingredients for making sandwiches in a delicatessen , we enjoyed them along the lake. We continued strolling in the streets of San Giovanni. On the little square of this port, Italian guys were playing cards. At 4pm, the bells of the church were ringing in the little streets. Bicycles were hung on the front of a house, each one with its style: the bicycle of the fireman, the florist or the carpenter. 

At the end of the afternoon, we went to the Rezzago village. During the day, curious about a sign made of cardboard and looking like an old advert, we decided to go to this village to take part in the local beer festival. We parked at the entry of the village and walked in the streets up to the church. It seemed very quiet and there was no hint about the biggest event of the year for this village. Finally, a man walking his dog showed us the location of this festival. At the entry, there was an old Fiat 500 nicely refurbished. Once inside, there was another inhabitant who gave us advice. With a beer of 1 litre per couple served with fries, we sat under the main marquee. We had a nice time at this local event, without any tourists. In the background, the local celebrity was playing classic Italian music. 

The following day, we woke up earlier to go to the West of the lake. At 10am, we left the house to go towards the hills and reach the lake next to the city of Como. We went along the riverside. The traffic was heavy during this Summer period. We were patient. 

We reached finally the village of Lenno, the place of departure of our walk. After a few manoeuvres in the little streets, we managed to find a space to park. We started to walk along a steam in the streets. We reached the main square overlooking the bay. On the water, the oars were going back and forth in front of the seawall. We continued up to the village of Tremezzo, went up to the heights, used the “GreenWay” to reach the park of Teresio Olivelli, where we had a picnic in the shadow of a big pine. On the way, we noticed many beautiful villas with garages for boats and the stairs going down to the lake. In Tremezzo, the “Grand Hotel” and the great “Villa Carlotta” were beautiful to take in photos. Back to Lenno, we enjoyed a homemade ice cream to celebrate the end of the walk. 

Milano was on the schedule of the following day. We walked up early to take the train of 9:30am at the train station of Asso-Canzo to reach the one of Milano North Cadorna in one hour and half. 

We started by crossing the medieval castle of Sforza from the name of this family who reigned on the city during the Middle-Age, after the Visconti family who built it. In spite of the outside architecture being massive and austere due to its defensive role, it was very sophisticated inside. The courtyards were decorated with little columns and walls with beautiful patterns. 

Then we went to the heart of Milano and loved the colourful buildings, the wrought-iron balconies and the vintage tramways. We arrived at the Scala square, the famous opera surprising us by its discrete architecture in spite of the reputation of this place, compared to the ones in Paris and London. 

Then, we went towards the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the true place of the Milanese fashion life. This shopping mall is made of two arcades with beautiful glass roof and the most famous fashion shops. The ground was covered of colourful mosaic with in its center a roaring bull, helping the extravagant wishes coming true. 

For lunch, we discovered the panzerotti, a local speciality similar to small calzone, before to discover the wide square where there is the majestic White Cathedral with a beautiful fine architecturale.

We finished our walk in the city in the area of Naviglio Grande and its beautiful canals with nice bridges made of stones. In one of the bars along the river, we shared an “aperitivo”, the true Milanese tradition. 

It was with a full belly that we headed to the train station to take the 9:08pm train going to Canzo.

Because the Come lake did not finish to deliver all its secrets, the next day we went to the East bank of the lake. After the town of Lecco, a numerous tunnels were hiding the view. But once passed Mandello, we took the Via Roma following the riverside. We parked at the Fiumelatte village with its narrow streets and the beautiful houses on the water.

We started the visit of Varenna by its main square, the Piazza San Giorgio before to stroll in the little streets along the lake, up to the pier. Again, we loved the colourful villas with the peaceful and romantic atmosphere, in spite of the touristic season. A storm was coming, so we went back to the car under the first drops.

The evening was special as we celebrated Emilie’s birthday in one of the restaurants of the city.

Bergamo was the destination of the next day. The specificity of this city is to be separated in two parts: the modern city, the Città Bassa, located at the bottom of the medieval part, the Città Alta surrounded by a fortified wall. Perched on a rock, the citadel open its doors after many stairs in the narrow and steep streets. In the heart of the fortress, the Piazza Vecchia was surrounded by impressive palaces including the Palazzo Nuovo, which is today the library and the ancient building of Palazzo della Regione. Under the arcades of this building, there was an ancient solar calendar. We enjoyed pizzas there that we bought for our lunch. On the right side, the Torre Civica, also named “Campanone”, had the biggest bell of Lombardy which was ringing each evening to let know the inhabitants the closure of the fortress gates.

Behind The Piazza Vecchia, the beautiful front of the Colleoni chapel was amazing before we entered in the basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, full of ornementations and old tapestries. Our walk in the small paved streets brought us though different markets (shoes, fish, hay, etc) and then to the Roca fortress. This was just before the comeback of the rain that we went down to the historical center for returning to the car.

Our last day in Canzo, was dedicated to the side-car services, before to take the road to France. We checked out and brought back Alice and Bernard to the Milano airport. Once we were sure they crossed the border without any issue, we took our sidecars for driving to the South, we bypassed Novare and reached the nice Asti area. Near Pianchiosso, at the end of a small track along the river, we went between the trees to reach a clearing. There, we setup the tent for the last night before entering in France.

Where for a break?

La Fabbrica del Gelato
Piazza 11 Febbraio , Lenno

An adresse with delicious homemade ice-creams to enjoy with a view over the Lenno bay and the Como lake.

Where to eat? 

Panzerotteria “Il Priscio”
Via Santa Tecla, 5, Milan

When you spend a day walking in the Milano streets, the discovery of the Panzerotti, is the solution. Il Prisco is the good place for it. With this only speciality on their menu, no need to hesitate. Just up the road from the cathedral, this address has only advantages.

Verona – 7 days – 59 metres above the sea level

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We arrived in Italy by the col of Brenner. In spite of crossing the Italian border, there was still an Austrian influence. We were still accompanied by the Vito, with all the family. We did a stop at Vipiteno, the most norther city of the country. We walked in the Via Citta Nuova, along massive buildings with a Renaissance style. At its extremity, we crossed under the Torre delle Dodici and its bell of 46-metre height. Since 1472, this tower was the link between the ancient and new city. On the main square, we found a shelter under the parasols of a café to order our first espresso ristretto.

We left the city and started to look for a wild camping place. As the forecasts were pretty bad, we asked to the local farmers for a shelter in one of their warehouses. But many of them refused. On the hills, behind the village of Mules, we finally had a positive reply after negotiations. We camped in a garage under construction, just under the sports field.

As usual, we celebrated the day with an evening drink. This time, we enjoyed a French southern drink: the Henri Bardouin Pastis to bring the sunshine after this wet day! For dining, we shared a “survival” box offered by Katadyn before our departure. Just a few kilometres further, this box would have done all the trip in the trunk of one of the sidecars. For the ones who are not sure about the taste of it, we were surprised! Well, we didn’t get all the flavours of a « Beef risotto with a Balkan sauce” without reading the label, but this meal was comforting after the tough day we had.

When we woke up, each one of the team went down to the river for a quick shower in the clear water from the mountain.

Once cleaned, we went down towards South and the city of Bolazno by going along the river of Isarco. Julien’s nephew, Zack, was with me, in the sidecar.

Back down from the valley, we looked for a campsite next to the Caldaro lake. But none of them were available with our tight budget and our needs of a wide area for 3 vehicles and 8 people. We decided to change our strategy and went back to the mountains. We arrived at the “Passo dela Mendola” where we enjoyed a viewpoint over the valley before to continue up to the Romeno village.

We spent the afternoon there on a play area. A nice break during our trip with games of Quixx, Yamms and a good skateboarding sessions by going down the hills with the kids.

The following day, we headed to the “Lago di Garda”. On the way, we stopped at the Azienda Agricola Fontanel in the Fiave village, before the lake. The young cheesemaker stopped his ricotta recipe for showing us its treasures. We fell in love with the fresh tomme cheese and the blue cheese.

While we went down towards the Riva del Garda, we enjoyed the view over the lake reaching the horizon between the mountains.

Once along the lake, we kept going towards East and stopped for a swim on a tree-field beach nearby the Porto village. The water was clear and refreshing. On the ground, there were small pebbles playing with our balance. Quickly we didn’t touch the ground anymore as there was a 300-metre depth in some places. After a few lengths, the abyss was mesmerising.  

We went up to the village of Bardolina and opted for a wield field near the monastery of Enero San Giorgio, to pitch up the tents.

We woke up early in the morning on the following day and folded up quickly the tents to reach Verona. A quick start of the day to avoid the traffic of the city. No worries during this trip. We parked next to the football stadium of Hellas Verona and started our visit of the city by foot. People say that when you visit it, it is like doing a time travel. And this started by crossing the Palio gate and the park of the ancient fortifications drawing the entrance of the historical city. Verona keeps the heritage of its various glorious pasts. The Roman vestiges stands alongside with the Renaissance buildings in a quite interesting alchemy, which does not troubles to the inhabitants. Our walk was going through the central square called Piazza Bra where stands, in the middle, the majestic Roman amphitheater.

In the course of a street, we entered in a small courtyard where stands Juliette’s balcony. The one where Romeo would have done its famous tirade. Then, we passed the Piazza dell Erbe which lays at the bottom of the Lamberti tower.

The walk continued by the place where was the herbs market, now replaced by some souvenir shops. On the right of this ancient economical heart is the Piazza dei Signori ; genuine political center of the Renaissance city, surrounded by the courthouses  : “del Podesta” and the Loggia di Fra Giocondo.

By narrow streets, we reached the Adige river bank. There, we took the breakfast made of focaccia, croissants and coffee. After crossing the Ponte Pietra, we conclued the trip by passing the Duomo of the Di Santa Matricolare cathedral after crossing the Castelvecchio and a break on the bridge of Scaligero.

Back on the stadium car park, it was our last picnic all together. The Vito and the family headed to France.

For us, the new direction was Brescia and we looked for a wild camping spot in front of the mountains, on the heights of the city.

After the village of Serla, we took a dead-end road. From the terraces, the elderly people were watching. We reached a nice picnic area, next to a barn with donkeys and horses. At 9pm, while finishing our dinner, there was a music on the back of the barn, from the house. Was-it a music for helping the animals to sleep ? There were three religious songs before to stop. At the time of going to our tents for the night, a car arrived and lighted up the camp with its front beams leaving only the noise of cows and bells.

On the next day, we went to the area of Brescia and more specifically the city of Flero where there is the Givi company. During the preparation of our trip, this company was one of the first ones to support us by offering the opportunity to become brand ambassadors on the roads of the world. We spent the day with Simona and Antonia working in the company and offering us a visit of the manufacture plus the R&D department.

Then, we went along the Iseo lake that we saw between the tunnels we crossed. Finally, we stopped for the evening along the lake of Endine. It was not easy to find a spot sheltered from the neighborhood. We asked a team of German scouts to join them but after a first positive request, they refused by being afraid from the reprisals by the city hall welcoming them. Finally, we pitched up the tents on a fishing area. At 9pm, the bar at the opposite side of the lake, played a loud music to celebrate a birthday and let off a nice fireworks by 11pm.

At 5am, a storm stopped the peacefulness of the night. We folded up the wet tents at 7am between two showers. We headed to Canzo, a small city next to the “Lago di Como”. We will stop there for a few days for Emilie’s birthday.

Where to stop for a break? 


The cheese factory “Azienda Agricola Fontanel”
Via 3 Novembre, 111, Fiave

A charming small farm lost in the mountains of Trentin. A warm welcoming and delicious chesses. No excuse for not stopping!


Austrian encounters

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Eva & Willy

Prigglitz, a small village from the South-West of Vienna, marked the end of our first step in Austria after riding all the day through the fiels. We were welcomed by Eva and Willy, our Austrian friends. We met each other in a campsite in Peru where we pitched up our tents next to their van. Back from South of America, there were enjoying a peaceful time in their holiday home. We parked the sidecars in front of a beautiful farm. Eva and Willy welcomed us warmly.

In the small square courtyard, there was a great campfire. We took a seat on tree trunks placed around it. We shared our stories about our trips, with a chill beer thanks to the natural fridge: a river just a couple of steps away. We met 8 months ago and many stories happened since then: from the amazing landscapes to the troubles with the vehicles! We enjoyed grilled meat before to pitch up the tent in the farmyard for a peaceful night.

After a hearty breakfast with delicious sweet pastries prepared by Eva and Will, we left and headed to Linz and more specifically the Ural Europe workshop.

Magdalena & Harry

Harry and Magdalena from the Ural Europe manufacture supported our project from its beginning. We will never thank them enough for their great help and their amazing reactivity when they urgently shipped a fork required for one of the sidecars, just a week before shipping them to South of America.

Going to Ural Europe was a key step for our trip.

It was at the end of the afternoon when we parked in front of the showroom of Ural. We were welcomed by Magdalena who showed us the company and a place to pitch up the tents behind the warehouse.

Harry is the manager of this place and our main contact for ordering spare parts.

It was with a great BBQ that we shared the evening all together.

When we woke up, Magdalena and the kids went to the farm, next door, for buying some bread before to prepare a delicious breakfast. It was the perfect hearty meal for getting enough energy for the tough mechanics session of the afternoon.

We spent all the day in the workshop with Günter, the mechanic of the team. It was 7pm when, as a reward, we purchased some goodies in the Ural shop before to go for a swim in the lake, just 2 kms away.

As we spent more time for changing a tire with Emile, we met the other part of the team on the way back. They started to prepare the BBQ while we enjoyed swimming a bit. We spent the evening with some local beers, but this time we discovered a new alcohol: homemade schnapps. But just between us… we didn’t find a lot of difference between the Peruvian Pisco, the Russian Vodka and the Austrian Schnapps. 🤫

We ended this ‘Ural’ step by a new hearty breakfast before to leave Magdalena and Harry for going towards Italy.

On the Austrian roads

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Our trip on the Austrian roads started by a first break at the town just after the border. We entered in the only café of the main street, for buying the licence allowing to drive on the highway.

We passed by the countryside at the speed of our vehicles. The asphalt followed the relief of the smooth Austrian hills. In the middle of a large field, the nice landscape had beautiful farms with wooden structures very topical of the region. 

We are surprised, after a turn, to discover many vineyards along the hills. The East of Austria has actually some famous white wine vineyards.

The nice turns appeared one after another one until a new breakdown 80 kilometers before Prigglitz, on of the stop over town. On the side of the road, we had to change the gear on the rear well of one of the sidecars. The teeth were worn by the several kilometers drove since Columbia. Without any spare parts, Julien decided to switch the gear from the sidecar wheel to the rear one. This gaves us the possibility to reach the Ural importer workshop about 300kms further away.  After less than an hour, the engine roared again and we reached Prigglitz just 2 hours later after the scheduled time.

We rode 200 kilometres on the straight highway to reach the Welz city, in the Linz suburbs. Nothing fancy, our aim was to reach the Ural workshop as quick as possible and without any mechanical issues. We needed new spare parts to fix our sidecars.

We reached the workshop at the time of their closing time. Magdalena, one of the managers, warmly welcomed us. We started to visit the office with many Urals in the main room plus Royal Enfield and Norton motorbikes. We were particularly surprised to discover a mini-caravan adapted to be fixed on our sidecars.

In the morning, while Magdalena and Harry were working in their offices, a customer arrived with a Norton motorbike. We shared with him a coffee on the picnic table in front of the showroom. Once the espresso finished, we started to work on our sidecars. We had the benefit to park our sidecars in the warehouse. Due to the 30,000 kilometres of the trip, we changed the gear between the final drive and the wheel with the advice of Günter, the mechanic of the workshop who was changing the oil of a sidecar for a customer. No troubles for changing the one of the wheel but it was more difficult for the final drive. To extract the part, Günter helped us and gave us a good advice: not to be afraid to use big tools! So we used one of the machines to extract the part.

We enjoyed to be in this place to replace also worn seals and rubbers. For not loosing our time, we did a quick break in the warehouse with a sandwich. We put tables and chairs out for the picnic which were used as a drawing table by the kids once the lunch finished. During the afternoon, we checked the valves and changed a rear wheel, hoping to do this kind of repair for the last time of the trip.

The following day and after a busy day of mechanics, our Ural sidecars were ready for leaving the warehouse. This time, we headed to the West of the country and the region of Tyrols in the Austrian Alps.

We crossed wide fiels at the beginning of our itinerary. We shared the road with many bicycles. We used nice little roads crossing many villages. We saw nice tower bells and beautiful houses with an architecture from Austria and Hungry: a coloured facade and decoration around the windows.

We walked along the Attersee lake with its clear waters and the first summits of the Alps. We followed the valley shaped by the Gasteiner Ache river. On the first heights of these wide green gorges, there were castles on the top of rocky peaks such as the Burg Klammstein.

By getting closer to the mountains, the rain was back. We found a shelter in a supermarket next to the Bad Hofgastein and we took this opportunity for some food shopping. At the end of lunch, no other choice than going back on the road under the rain.

A hundred of kilometres further and once we crossed the col of Brenner under thick fog, we headed to Italy and the delicious Mediterranean food.