There's been a slight change in our trajectory. We've been traveling up the west coast of Italy, eying a visit to Genoa and the picturesque towns on the Italian Riviera. Neda's sister, Goga e-mailed us and told us that there's been massive flooding in north-western Italy because of heavy rainfall - over 7 inches in three days! The area around the French/Italian border has been declared a disaster zone, with floodwaters swamping buildings, the streets have turned into raging rivers, lifting cars like floating logs and sweeping them away.
Are our BMW GS bikes equipped to handle that? Computer says no.
Heading east through the pretty countryside of Tuscany
The secret of how to take pictures while riding a motorcycle
I get asked a lot about my camera setup and how I take all of the riding pictures while on the bike. As you can see above, there's a actually a tiny Englishman in my tankbag that pops up once in a while to take all the action shots. You can tell he's British because his pinkie is up.
Lots of swanky estates up in the hills - what a contrast to Sicily!
We book into another AirBnB place just outside of Florence. This turned out to be the first time that we have had a bad experience via AirBnB. The place was a bit dirty and unkempt, and our host and his mother gave off a bit of a creepy Norman-Bates-vibe. We so wished that our room had a lock on it! Oh well, we've had bad stays in hotels and campsites as well, so why should this be any different?
We wanted to stay a couple of days to see the city. However, heavy rainfall the day after stymied that plan and we had to stay in our creepy AirBnB room all day. We had one eye out the window watching our bikes get pelted by the thunderstorm, and another eye on the doorknob to make sure it didn't turn... ahhh! Looking back on it, it kind of felt like a horror movie!
The next day brought some sunshine, so we packed out of the Bates Motel and hoofed it to Florence
As is the English tradition, we've changed the name of this beautiful city to better conform to our Anglo tongues. The Italians call it Firenze (Fee-Ren-Zay). I like that a lot better!
Firenze is one of Italy's most beautiful cities, everything looks like a Renaissance painting!
The Arno River runs right through the city and pastel-coloured buildings line both banks. We followed one of the roads by the bank all the way into the historic centre. The original plan was to visit some museums today, specifically the one that housed the statue of David by Michelangelo, but the lineups were huge and the tickets expensive. We had planned too poorly. Apparently the best way to see the museums in Firenze is to pre-book the tickets online and show up at the crack of dawn to line up. :(
Oh well, lots of other art lying around all over the place in Firenze!
Ponte Vecchio is one of Firenze's famous sights. I'm not sure why...
One of the bridges over Arno is the Ponte Vecchio, it's got lots of expensive jewelry stores right on the bridge. Those houses tacked on the side of the bridge looked precarious! It was very crowded here, we didn't like it too much. They say it looks much nicer at night all lit up above the river, but we were mobile at this point so we couldn't stay for the evening.
Walking around the historic centre, many touristy shops and stalls
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore was magnificent!
Street musicians providing a soundtrack for our walk around Firenze
More strolling through Firenze
After almost a month and a half in Italy, I think I'm getting a bit tired of looking at old buildings. Time to move on, I think.
The merry-go-round at the Piazza della Repubblica is a permanent fixture
After our AirBnB experience in Firenze, we were a bit hesitant about using the service again, but after carefully reading all the comments and reviews, we booked into another place just outside of Modena. It turned out to be an actual BnB, and Flavio, one of the two co-owners who runs it, was hospitable and the place was very homey and welcoming. Ahhh, thank goodness!
Flavio's full-time job is a video editor, so for once we have photos of the two of us together! The BnB turned out to be more than just a place to sleep, as we were treated to dinner and wine that night as well as a nice spread for breakfast.
Hanging out with Flavio at La Selvatica
So we're riding around the area and we pass a town sign that reads, "Sant'Agata". Why does that name sound so familiar? I radio Neda, "Hey, I think the Lambo.." *zooom* a brand new, lime-green Aventador whizzes by us at high speed, pre-delivery white protective plastic sheeting still clinging onto it's body-panels. "...rghini factory is around here..."
And then minutes later, what do we see?
German tank vs Italian missiles.
We're too cheap to pay for the museum tour, so we circled around the parking lot taking pictures before being kicked out by security :)
There's something a bit off about the Italians in this region - they are crazy for speed! In a tiny radius around Bologna, you've got the Lambo, Ferrari and Ducati factories, Maranello, Misano and Imola racetracks, as well as the birthplace of Valentino Rossi and Marco Simoncelli. And not too much further north is the MV Agusta factory in Varese as well as the birthplace of Giacomo Agostini.
What's in the drinking water around here?!?
Waving goodbye to Flavio and La Selvatica. Neda says, "What's with that creepy smile?!"
Oh look, a bird! :)