Definitely luck, not stupidity.

Trip Start Jul 02, 2013
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Saturday, October 5, 2013

EM_TY Cont'd:

It was definitely luck, not stupidity. We found ourselves at a place called Torri Superiore Eco-Village. Originally, the medieval village (made from stone and lime mortar from the riverbed below) was home to inhabitants in the 1000's, at a time of social and political unrest. It was built as a stronghold to offer protection, with its intricate pattern of over 160 rooms and terraces over 8 levels, linked by stairways and alleys covering around 3000 square meters. Over time it was eventually abandoned and left to decay, until the late 1990’s when a group of environmentally minded people began to restore it, and create homes for a community of residents. Now, it is home to many families, who work the land surrounding it, harvest vegetables and olives, tend to chickens and guests, and continue to restore and develop the building and infrastructure. As guest’s we can A) simply enjoy the village life, nature and their amazing meals, or B) work for food and lodging. 

We chose option A), even extending our stay from one night to three, giving us enough time to service MAX and Dasiy-Su. We also explored the township near the village, and at times felt like a donkey should be carting wares past us at any moment. The township was medieval as well, but had not nearly as much attention as the eco-village. It was rugged and very very old, with tunnels leading to teeny doorways, the baffling part being that people still live there in that state. At one point, a frail Nonna told us an animated story out of her creaky window, making us annoyed we didn’t know Italian, therefore none of what she said. We just stood there waving and staring like fools as if we had seen the Queen parade past.

On our second day Pierre collected us in his car, for a grander tour of yesterday’s grand tour of the French Riviera and Monaco. We took a local route through Monte Carlo, where police monitored number-plates, filtering out tourists. We drove past glittering and imposing casinos, hotels and shop fronts of every super exotic car make and designer brand possible. Lamborghini’s, Jaguars and glamorously dressed people filled the streets and super yachts floated in the docks – It was a prestigious persons playground. We were still dressed like nomads, so we lunched over wine and more conspiracies near Nice, and after a few laps, loops and panoramic shots from Nice to Monaco we were back at the Village in the mountains, hugging Pierre with gratitude.

The disparity of the day was glaringly obvious – Monaco to Eco-Village like Apple Ipad to ink on paper. Our evenings were spent having some great conversations and laughs (matching the great food and wine) with like-minded folk. Knud was a hilarious German music lover (who chose option B) on holiday with his son. We listened to his stories of being in the revolution of Berlin when the wall came down and the liberating effect on their culture. Mika, recently married and still chuckling when saying the word 'husband’, had some amazing tales of working with orangutans and ocean turtles in Malaysia. Trace even found some passionate carpenters and designer-makers to discuss her favorite thing - wood. (I’m not even being funny – It’s truly her favorite thing…?) It really solidified our joy of meeting such interesting people along the way. It also made a difficult day so much easier. It was exactly one year since Trace’s Mum had passed away. We reflected on the year with sadness, but also smiles as Sharon knew this was our dream, and here we were, actually doing it.

We could have stayed for weeks, but the weather and our bank account was telling us to get moving. We tried to make up some distance by (you guessed it)  The Motorway. Taking the Motorway over the smaller charismatic inland roads, feels like we are vegetarians eating meat, betraying our ethos. This particular section really betrayed us. It was a tiring journey of inside a tunnel, outside a tunnel, inside a tunnel, outside a tunnel, dark, light, dark light - getting small glances of the coastline before it was taken away again; and it was close to causing me an epileptic fit. Our trance was broken by the very innocent mistake of filling MAX with Diesel rather than Petrol after our Italian translation skills failed. The result was a good hour or two draining him and flushing him in the car park at the service station, watching as the rain clouds filled our outlook with even more grey.

We were aiming for Le Spezia, where once again a small cluster of red camping arrows appeared on the map. We almost made it but for our butts. Oh how they pained, but(t) only slightly more than the realisation that, for the most part, campsites are now closed in Italy. We had luckily landed in a gorgeous town, Levanto, where our budget found us a hotel. We roamed the three blocks of lanes, bars and restaurants which sat on the section of land poking out in the bay, and enjoyed our first restaurant made Italian pasta dishes of the trip, washed down by wine and then of course gelato. During the night we were woken by slamming window shutters, extreme thunder and a giant hole in the sky let out a massive dumping of rain. We secretly thanked the lazy / clever (?) Italians for closing their campsites, and officially packed the map away.

In the morning we headed off further down the coast, but only after a nice macchiato ordered at the standing café bar. Here, I shall put my first item on the Italian owned list: Coffee. Yes, they own it. Not because they love it and it tastes special here – But because they take so much pride in serving it. The men behind the bar wear suits and bowties, and they delicately place the petit cup on the platter and in OCD like fashion, add the spoon, sugar and sweet. Unfortunately Italian’s seem busy, as they squish at the bar, swig while standing and leave, wasting all the effort.

Thankfully my day started with this simple pleasure, as for the rest of it there was none. There was absolutely nothing pretty or special about the road towards Pisa. It was patchy bitumen, with stinky industrial plants, marble sales yards, and concrete walls with graffiti’d opinions across it. As we were close to stopping for lunch we confusingly saw a sharp mountain range covered in snow. We followed them for some time, our gaze going from marble yard, to white mountain, marble yard to white mountain. Ooooohhhh, it’s a marble mountain. Thank-god it’s not snow. At our lunch break, the weather app told us we had one hour maximum of riding time before last nights hole in the sky found us here. We strapped the rest of our pizza to the bike and quickly took off.

That hour got us to Viareggio. A weird coastal town made up of hotels and then enough pop-up basic restaurants and shops to cater for the people in them. We arrived in time for the drips to start, causing illegal street venders to scatter to the corners selling umbrellas. Even though we were the only people without them, umbrellas are only practical off a motorbike, and we spend most of our time on one. Our new budget hotel room thankfully had a roof, and was like a dream princess room for a little girl. Everything was pink, with high ceilings and breezy pink cloth draped over the tall windows. The bathroom was a single wet room completely covered in pink tiles. We sat under our pink doona and listened to a titanic amount of water hit buildings and roads for the rest of the day; and eating our slightly soggy, now pink, leftover Pizza with a few gherkins from our panniers. We were queasy stranded princesses, who then heard our second Aussie accent on the trip – Border Patrol on TV! Happy queasy stranded pink princesses. 
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Comments

Jo on

Great story Emma! Loving both those locations. Finding myself wanting to be there. Shall have to take notes! Happy travels.

Hel on

Love your eloquently written tales Em. The detail really makes me visualize it all. You both look really well. Love you xx

tanya on

Oh I love Italy, I've been twice now. Recommend the Amalfi coast!

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