New Visitors from Italy
As we have been corresponding since couple months, Italian riders Antonio & his wife Nicoletta finally arrived to Turkey on 03/08/2001. We went out for dinner together with them on 06/08/2001 and talked to much about motorcycling and their trip to our country. Nicoletta has a very strong memory and learned lot of Turkish words at least to explain herself. Next morning, they headed to Cappadocia and south coasts of Turkey and going to visit our Italian Goldwinger friend Paolo Volpara who lives in magnificent Gocek town of Turkey.
We hope to meet with them again in Italy during our coming trip in late August 2001.
We are very gald to meet with them and hope to see them in the future in here, in Italy or on the roads of the world...
Cantù 3 September 2001
Greeting from Antonio,
This is not a simple report of a ride but a collection of feelings and pleasant surprises we experienced in a Country called Turkey where splendid people live.
I reached Istanbul almost by chance in 1987 when I was travelling without a specific plan with my Honda 550 across East and South East Europe: Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. Those days spent in Istanbul stayed as the best souvenirs brought home from the ride and, before time cancels all my souvenirs I planned to go back to this Country and to this People with my wife Nicoletta.
I always try to prepare myself well on the traditions, history and habits of the visited country and my wife started learning Turkish to facilitate our meetings with the inhabitants. For two months before our departure I was in contact by e-mail with Feza Haznedar (firstname.lastname@example.org and the web site at http://www.haznedar.com): I met him on the Internet thanks to his web page dedicated to travelling on Gold Wing. From the way Feza answered to my question I realized how generous and kind he was. The desire to meet him and his wife Berrin grew strongly from the departure day till our meeting in Istanbul. Here we spent two days mixing with the people in the street, bars, restaurants always impressed by the open spirit of the Turkish. We met Feza and Berrin on the last night and the kindness and hospitality demonstrated to us confirmed the impression received on the net. We dined in a splendid restaurant and we had an interesting evening: we only hope to be able to return the hospitality during Feza and Berrin visit to Italy. After Istanbul we rode to Cappadocia: in the fascinating scenery of Urgup we met a special person Suha Ersoz (email@example.com) owner of the Hotel Esbelli Evi (www.esbelli.com). We did not stay in this unique hotel but Suha was very kind in providing suggestions and information to visit the area. We then continued toward Antalya and Bodrum meeting on the road, at petrol stations, in villages friends who share time and pictures with us: we are now sending them the photos we took. It is the first time I came back from a ride in a foreign Country with a strong desire to go back immediately to renew friendship with those special people.
In conclusion we like to thank, together with all people we met, Feza and Berrin Haznedar, Suha Ersoz and Paolo Volpara (firstname.lastname@example.org) of the One More Mile Riders Group (www.ommriders.com).
Antonio e Nicoletta Giuliani
Going for Corners in the French Maritimes Alps. February 2002
P. Volpara © 2002 March
“Andare per Curve” (Going for Corners) is an annual ride dedicated to fun riding and normally reserved for a small group of experience bikers. The objective is to find some of the best curvy road in Europe in low season to ride, ride and ride. This year we selected the Maritimes Alps between Italy and France and the Mountains along the French Riviera: demanding roads in Italy and France, mixing good riding with good life and historical places.
From Milan to Milan via Cuneo, Sospel, Cannes, Thorent, Digne, S.Remy, Avignon, Orange, Nimes, Cassis, Grasse, Menton.
To gain time we moved to Milan by plane and we rented bikes in town. We selected two Ducati ST4 and one BMW R1150R. The rental was organized with Mototouring (www.mototouring .com) and their services were adequate. The transfer day Istanbul Milan was unlighted by the presence of Antonio Giuliani. Good friend of OMM and avid Gold Winger Antonio is all a good biker should be. Last summer he rode around Turkey and he became a “fanatic” of our Country: he did not miss the opportunity to meet again Turkish riders. His smiling face is welcoming us at the Airport from where he transfers us to the hotel in Milan. Then he stays in our company for lunch carrying the group around in his Audi to visit Bike shop. In the evening he arranged a unique dinner in a very special restaurant. Really you should take note: Osteria La Vignetta in Cantu’ (40 K from Milan center tel. +90 39031 706286) is not only worth the short trip but also authentic in regional cuisine.
We left on a cloudy and cold morning of February taking the motorway Milan- Genoa and then the direction Asti. It is really cold but the sun is brightening up the atmosphere. Stop for a coffee at the last Petrol Station on the motorway (Asti East) where we meet a Fireblade pilot with scruffy leather: smell of speed and eyes of deep cold. The route between Asti and Cuneo is flat crossing one of the most important regions for wine. Stop in Asti for petrol: the snow appears on the sides of the road while we enter route S20 to Limone Piemonte attaching the Col di Tenda (1400 meters) in a blazing sun. Nice ride but the melting snow makes corners wet and caution is required. A Tende (12.30) we stop for lunch: from now and for the next three hours is good cornering on “billiard” asphalt via Breil sur Roya, Berre des Alpes, Sopel and L’Escarène. This is real good going and our destination appears quite soon: 16:00 we are in Peillon were L’Auberge de la Madone (04 93 799117) will turn out to be the best hotel of this ride. Peillon is an ancient Village perfectly preserved; no shops, no bars no confusion. We walk along the climbing narrow road, small canyons between the stone houses to reach at the top of the village the main square and the church. Splendid theater for the sunset: it must be south France. The dinner and the overall accommodation at the hotel are definitely good if not special: a place to come back. Total Kilometers for the day: 360
The following day we leave at 08:45 for a variation in the program: the “Tour of Mont Agel” a classic on this area. The sea appears at la Turbie where we stop for a visit to La Trophée des Alpes. A massive monument in white stone visible for many miles is the last remaining Roman military monument of its kind in Western Europe. It was erected in 6 BC to commemorate the victory of Caesar Augustus over the warlike hill tribes who disrupted Roman links with its territories in Gaul and Spain. Standing 50 meters by 38 meters and surmounted by a statue of Augustus, it was a salutary reminder of Rome's power. From La Turbie we descend rapidly on the coast to take a short portion of the motorway to cut the traffic of Nice. We exit at Cagnes to climb toward S. Paul de Vence where we stop for a visit to Foundation Maeght (Tel +33 00 93 32 81 63) Founded in 1964 by Aimé Maeght, a Paris art dealer, the Foundation Maeght, in the fortified hill-town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, is devoted entirely to modern art. “The content, the lovely setting and the building itself—a fantasy in pink, topped by two white inverted domes—combine to make it a remarkable place to visit. Exhibits are changed three times a year but regularly include works by Bonnard, Braque, Chagall, Miró, and other great painters of the 20th century. The courtyard contains sculptures by Giacometti, and the lovely hillside gardens feature works by many great sculptors.”
From S. Paul we move up to Pont du Loup to discover that the famous road along the east side of Gorges du Loup is closed for repairs: we stay on the right going for Le Bar (stop for coffee) and remounting the gorges on the right side toward Gourdon. The corners here are spectacular but the Sunday traffic invites to prudence. After Gréolières the traffic disappear and we turn left to Thorenc where we abandon the main road for crossing the Col de la Bleine: we are high (1.400 meters) and the snow closes on us: the road is really bad and covered for large sections on ice and snow… ideal place for a Ducati. Slowly we descend on St. Auban regaining decent surface. Brianconnet, Col de St. Raphael and Puget Théniers bring us to the Gorges du Cian, 22 kilometers of mad spectacular corners between rocky walls of red colors. We stop with adrenalin flowing at Beuil a sky station in full activity: while having probably the worst meal of the entire trip we can enjoy the view of skiers cutting corners on the slopes in front. It is sunny but cold and windy and we take left toward Guillaumes to return south via the Gorges de Daluis: again a fast ride in the canyon with tunnels “one way”. Quite disconcerting: you come out of a corner and the road split: one line enters a tunnel while the opposite direction uses open spaces. At St. Andre des Alpes we stop for petrol: Cemil complains about the oil pressure indicator coming in and out: we discover that it is only the petrol reserve light. It is time to move fast west: we are expected for the night in Hotel in St. Remy 250K ahead. A long transfer in a splendid country site but the night comes quickly on us: Barrême, Digne, Les Mées, Forcalquier (stop for coffee on main square) Apt, Coutelet, Cavaillon. It is marked as panoramic route but, to be honest, we are too busy in making time. We level with a BMW biker of good experience, smooth and fluent he leads us toward S.Re4my. It is 19:00 when we reach the town and our problems starts: nobody seams to know the Hotel and we wonder around and around for 45 minutes. Worth the pain: the Hotel Chateau des Aspilles (Tel +33-490 920333, Fax +33 490 924517) it really something special. A lovely chateau Built in the 19th century by one of Arles' oldest families, located a short stroll from the ancient Roman city of Glanum, practically hidden from view by centuries old rare trees. Many famous Frenchmen have stayed here including Châteaubriand, Lamartine, Guizot and Thiers. It is beautifully furnished throughout with genuine antiques. Almost too much for three tired bikers: the atmosphere of the Hotel is subtle, the air rarefied, the sounds gentle; we eat (very well) in a sumptuous “salle a manger” and we retired with the view of the secular park just outside our windows. It has been a long day and the odometer reads 528 kilometers.
Sunny and clear morning: we leave the hotel at nine to a brief tour of Avignon. As usual being in town is not a great pleasure for “fully dressed” bikers: the situation is not improved by the heavy morning traffic and the strict “one way” system. After a coffee in the main square we move to Orange where we stop for a visit to the Roman Theater. Built at the time of Emperor Augustus, this is the best preserved of all remaining Roman theatres and the only one with its stage wall and proscenium intact. This immense wall is an unforgettable reminder of the genius of Rome, 103 meters (338 feet) long and 36 meters (118 feet) high, it is built, without mortar, of reddish-brown sandstone blocks. The tiered auditorium can seat almost 10,000 spectators. The acoustics are superb and the theatre is used today for music festivals.
We move north to Pont St. Esprit and at St. Martin a small bridge crossing gives us the first view of the river Ardeche. The view is peaceful with the little village boarding the river that here leaves the gorges and take a more tranquil course. We stop for a picture and for a mental preparation to the Gorges de l’Ardeche. I can imagine a whole 15 days holiday based here doing the gorges every day: you have the choice of one of the most breathtaking panorama in Europe or one of the best riding road in this continent. Being short on time we take the second option appreciating the grippy tarmac to Vallon Pont d’Arc where a natural bridge across the river welcomes us for a quick snack on the village square. Le Gorges de l’Ardeche will turn out to be the best “riding section” of the whole trip and the Ducati here performed at their best. From Vallon Pont d’Arc west to Villefort and then south to another splendid riding section: Villefort to Genolhac a five stars ride with endless section of sharp corners and Genolhac to Portes is a four star sister road. Today is plenty of fun but from Arles on the road fills up with heavy traffic and it is boring going back to Avignon direction. To our relief we stop at Remoulins to visit the famous Pont du Gard: a perfect statement of the Roman ability to get things done and to combine strength, durability, majesty, and elegance in one massive structure. Built by Agrippa in 19 BC as part of a 48-kilometre (30-mile) aqueduct carrying water to Nîmes, the three tiers of arches stand today as they did 2,000 years ago. The bridge is an impressive engineering feat in every respect; the huge stones remain in position without the use of mortar.
Time to think Hotel and we plan to find one at Aix en Provence. To speed up the process (it is now late afternoon we take the Autoroute A7 and by 18:30 we are in Aix where we stay at The local Holiday Inn (04 42 527 527) functional and sterile as all big chain hotels. 410 kilometers were covered today and it time for dinner.
Our luck holds the day after: another sunny spell in bikers paradise. Quick to leave the traffic of Aix taking, south of the city, road D58A to Mimet, Cadolive and Allauch. This must be the local “circuit” for bikers because the corners come fast and furious: unfortunately good grippy tarmac is counterbalanced by the limited width and my two companions got stuck behind slow moving trucks. At Allauch we stop for coffee and planning: we want to do today the Gorges du Verdon probably the most famous Canyon in all Europe. We turn now east to Aubagne, skirting the famous racing circuit of Le Castellet (Paul Ricard) and pointing north to Signe and Meunes. Good roast with nice views ‘till we miss a turn: La Montagne de la Loube that look as a promising section will have to wait for a future trip: by mistake we turn east toward Forcalquieret and we reach Brignoles by a boring a flat section. It is market day in town and we stop here for an additional coffee and samples the local stands.
Pleasant but not special the transfer north: Carces, Cotignac, Sillans and Aups. Here road D957 turns interesting in scenery and riding. Soon the Lac of S.te Croix is on our left and in Les Salles we stop for lunch: the village is silent and empty (we are off season) but a small creperie offers a tasty opportunity. After lunch we attack the Gorges du Verdon south circuit from Aiguines up. Bad news: a sign indicates that for winter works the circuit is closed after 40 K. We continue for 20 K in majestic scenery. The river cut this deep Canyon of indescribable beauty and impressive dimension: we pass the sign indicating 1.000 meters of altitude and the snow makes appearance on the sides and (occasionally) on the road. It is slow riding with plenty time to enjoy in absolute solitude the precipitous meandering of the river hundreds of meters below. The road conditions turn nasty and we decide to turn back and to follow the north side of the Canyon. Back to Les Salles we climb to La Palud abandoning the borders of the Canyon: on this side too the scenic routes are closed in winter and we cross the Verdon river at Pont de Soleis. Again a five stars pilot's route that continues to Comps (coffee and petrol) and La Logis: but some of the best is still to come. Route N85 crossing the Bois of Seranon toward the Pas de la Fays is known as the Napoleon Route retracing the itinerary followed by Napoleon on his return to Paris after escaping the Elbe Island in 1815.
The Emperor was on horse and he missed completely the thrills that this itinerary offers today to good bikers. Again and again a combination of your favorites toys: smooth surface, low traffic, nice corners, unspoiled nature. From the top of the Pass we get a glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea and the city of Grasse. We plan to stop here and looking for Hotel we found a monastery: the Hotel Sainte Therese (tel. 0493 361029 email@example.com) was hoisting nuns ‘till last year and it has only recently been open to tourist: in good position above Grasse the modern construction is not inspiring and the rooms are more suitable for spiritual sacrifice than luxury rest. Still a good terrace where you can park the bikes, a splendid view of the far away coast and few minutes from the center of this antique city, today capital of the Perfume Industry.
After a stroll in town, visit to the ancient part of the center, shopping perfumes and soaps for the loved ones at home we sit for a drink contemplating the springy weather and the beautiful roads covered. Tomorrow is the last riding day and today we covered 350 kilometers of pure joy. Dinner is something special to celebrate: Café’ Arnaud (04 93364488) is a cozy and well appreciated by the locals. The service is slow but the food follows the regional tradition of fresh flavors. Highly recommended.
Last day opens with some clouds on the air but still sunny: we leave early and it is good because after 20 K my Ducati has the back tire flat: just in front of a Tires Repair shop. Good luck? Yes and no: no repairs for bike but a friendly space where to work: in 15 minutes we are back on the road toward Vence and Gattiers (coffee stop) crossing the river Tinee’ at Carros. Here we point north to St. Martin du Var following the Defile’ du Cahudan to Madone d’Utelle. The landscape abandons the mediteranean look showing at the horizons the South Alps. From now on only mountain roads lovers should apply: the narrow road follows the river for 25 K and then we turn west on D2565 entering in Valdeblore, passing S. Dalmas and reaching 1500 meters at Col St. Martin. The road is wet from the melting snow on the sides but the pleasure of riding is not touched. A rapid descent to S. Martin Vesubie, where we stop for coffee and croissants, brings us to La Bollene. Here starts the famous circuit to the Col de Turini of Monte Carlo Rally Memory. The roads still carries the signs of the Rally with marks for braking points and traces of crashes on guard rail and rock. At the top (Col de Turini 1604 meters) the snow covers everything and the descent on the north side has interesting moments for the three bikes. Loosing altitudes improves the road conditions and the Gorges du Piaon offer new opportunities of testing the leaning angle of our bikes. Sospel is in view at eleven and we take the last of this “Andare per Curve” interesting sections. The Col du Castillon is our “good by” to the corners of France. Menton is the place to stop for petrol and lunch and, believe it or not, our first opportunity to seat on the borders of the sea. While lunching the weather takes a turn for the worst: strong wind brings black clouds and choppy sea. It is cold when we cross the border back to Italy and in Ventimiglia the rain starts. Time to head home ASAP and the coastal motorway is the best option. By five o clock we are back to Milan where a monumental traffic jams the circular highway. On the heavy rain we zigzag across never ending lines of busses, trucks and cars. 517 kilometers since morning and we return the bikes to Mototouring. “Andare per Curve 2002” is finished and tomorrow we fly back to Istanbul.
Over the last dinner of the trip we consider the ride: definitely riding in the Alps is an experience that every rider should have especially during low season. The weather was ideal for biking, the roads among the best covered by the long OMM experience, the bikes perfect for the task of covering the 2.200 K of this ride in safety and fun. Traffic police and speed traps never presented a problem. Above all the good company and positive attitude of the participants to this ride made the adventure an unforgettable one. Regrets? Time is always our enemy and this region offer a large number of artistic and historical places to visit for the more relaxed travelers. The South style of living should be enjoyed more leisurely… still we were going for corners and we met few of them.