Italy….. west to east and back again!

It was still humid but not as bad as yesterday, so after verona I decided to go Lake Garda. As you ride through italy’s countryside, I felt as if I was riding through my home town napa valley. Just a much bigger version. I hung out for a bit in another small lake side town Garda.

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My home base tour guide Craig said go visit a winery Zeni near by, they have a small free museum

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I enjoyed a nice free tasting and bought a couple bottles, one for me and one for my camp hosts

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As most days now I’m wiped out by 9ish so after a dinner I was out. Back to the good ol tent 🙂
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I decided before hand I would tour Mantua its a smaller historical town. As of 2007, Mantua’s centro storico (old town) and Sabbioneta were declared by UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site. Mantua’s historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family has made it one of the main artistic, cultural, and especially musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole.

Below is the Sabbioneta used as a fortress and personal residence. Sabbioneta was founded by Vespasiano I Gonzaga in the late 16th century along the ancient Roman Via Vitelliana, on a sandy bank of the Po (whence the name, meaning “Sandy” in Italian).DSC_1040

I enjoy visiting these places most mainstream tourist don’t go, there is history in all towns. It just has to interest you. Back home I could listen to an old man on a porch, in small town middle america and learn a lot. Its just whatever interests you.

The architecture of the buildings were awesome.

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As a whole the Palazzo Ducale di Mantova (“Ducal Palace”) is a group of buildings built between the 14th and the 17th century mainly by the noble family of Gonzaga as their royal residence in the capital of their Duchy.

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With plenty of art and artifacts from different centuries

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You could tour the whole castle

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The gardens near the top of the castle

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Each room was decorated differently by the Gonzaga families over the years

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I spent most of my day wandering around Mantua

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It was a nice town with some great history and beautiful buildings, but it was hot and time to go.

I get an overview of the roads and decided to take alternate routes to get home, just so I get a feel for each area. Between the vineyards and farm land there was industrial companies thrown in the mix!

My last night in Manzambano, Ricardo and sonia recommended there neighborhood restaurant. It’s just a home with a garden, there own farm to table. Quattro Gatti! The food and view was awesome! Add this to the list for those who want fresh organic food.

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and I tried something on the menu thats been on most menus in the area but I felt bad eating it. Once was enough, it was nothing special.

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Ask me if you want to know, it my offend most 🙂

That night I said my goodbyes to Ricardo and Sonia. It would’ve of been nice to hangout, but I showed up during the week when they were busy. So we exchanged information and wine. I gave them my bottle from Zini and they gave me one of his hometown ( Barbera ) wines. Barbera is a red Italian wine grape variety that, as of 2000, was the third most-planted red grape variety in Italy (after Sangiovese and Montepulciano). It is believed to have originated in the hills of Monferrato in central Piemonte, Italy where it has been known from the thirteenth century.

Below is an 18th-century engraving of the city of Casal Monferrato in whose cathedral archive the earliest known planting of Barbera is documented.

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Yeah…..I think I’ll save this for the end of the trip 🙂

My first Camp in my garden was pleasant, I had my own bathroom/shower facility and it was just what I expected from the back roads of Italy. Ricardo and Sonia are actually starting a bed and breakfast. So if your making it this way they’ll have a spot for you. In their house. So you’ll be minus the donkey rooster wake up call :).

It’s ok buddy I forgive you….chow!

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After packing up, my destination is the watery town of Venice, I’m heading to ‘Camp jolly’ a camping area just outside of venice. As I got closer to Venice I could feel the cool air, and a much needed break from the heat. I skipped Venice on my last european trip and opted to stay in switzerland longer, so I was excited to check out it’s beauty, that vegas tries to replicate 🙂

It was pretty cheap to stay in the mobile homes at camp jolly and It’s a 15 min. bus ride away from Venice. That night I tried to hangout at the camps bar instead ended up people watching. Anytime I tried to communicate I was left with blank stares. I’m realizing english is not as prominent unless your in real tourists area. I lasted about 1/2 hour and was done. Oh well! Venice in the morning!

I’m not used to the bus thing

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When you’ve had the mobility I have, the lines and waiting get’s old quick, but venice is tight in parking and I can relax without worrying about the bike.

I arrived in venice with the feeling of peace as the water streets have that calming effect. So I walked all around venice snapping pictures.

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and hanging out in different areas where I heard music

I found a nice little cafe tucked away in a corner with good wine and open face sandwiches

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I opted not to do the Gondola’s. I thought they looked like a very nice way to see the water bi-ways.

There are certain things that should be shared with that special someone. I ‘ll leave certain things for another time!

I spent all afternoon in venice………..

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Saw a familiar name, first place I’ve seen in Europe…..

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I can’t help but think i would I’d get claustrophobic if I lived here. There are so many small back streets and you cant see through the buildings, I felt enclosed at times.

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Unless you go on the outskirts of the town.  I took a nice 30 minute nap here :)…..

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I spent two full days in venice. So the next day I sat around the pool the at jolly camp and decided I would spend the evening in Venice.

First thing I did was I walk around again and found a nice little bar with those Tapas/sandwiches,  but this time I enjoyed some local beer. I liked this little bar (Corner Pub), I would come back again.

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And I have to say I really like these beers (BIRRA MORETTI). Hey Moretti family your into beer too? I’ll have to see if there in the states.

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It turns out that the night I was in venice they were celebrating the Festa del Redentore. Its to celebrate in honor of those who suffered and died of the plague in 1576. Over 50,000 people  passed away. A couple I met who rode their motorcycle as well, said I have to stay until midnight! It’s the most beautiful display of fireworks in Venice.

I made my way down to the Piazza SanMarco the main square

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and hoards of people as you can see who were doing the same, at the last minute I had a change of heart. There were so many people there and if it is one of the most beautiful things to witness in Venice, again I thought it should be shared for the first time. Can’t do everything by myself.

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Venice was beautiful and after 2 days of wandering it was enough! I checked out a bunch of churches as well and took a ferry ride around venice. It turned out to be the right time as the sun was setting!

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Once I got back to the Parking garage, I decided to ride in this time, we weren’t aloud in for an hour. They had the police and military searching the building for bombs. It made me think about Nice and being in an isolated crowded area. Just like the one I walked out of tonight. You can’t be scared to enjoy life, but maybe it was a good thing I didn’t stay. Thankfully, as it turned out, Venices celebration went on without incident. I’ll just have to enjoy that moment on another day.

My next destination Florence.

I woke up ready to go. I’m getting up later and later everyday. I don’t have to wake up super early, so 830-9pm and I can get everything packed in a half hour. By 10-10:30 I’m out.

Getting to florence was a piece of cake. As I made my way I ended up riding behind this  group, along coast line for around 80 miles.

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It made me miss home and riding with a group, as I ride with my friends and family all the time. Making trips to reno street vibrations with joe and his mostly retired friends. Traveling around with my cousins as we D.A.R. our way into week long trips. Even just the day rides are great. It’s camaraderie, it’s the shared simple moments of riding that can only come from riding. So as I spent a long time behind them, the scenery and images were great but it would be that much sweeter if I had my family of riders cruising right with me.

The back country of Italy is trafficless. Just farms, vineyards and back road restaurants.

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I stopped at farm house restaruant this time and made the mistake of ordering seafood pasta for a family of ten. I just wanted to magically to start speaking or reading Italian in these moments. Wow was it good, but I probably shouldn’t have eaten the whole thing 🙂

I found an air bnb and the whole apartment to myself for $50 a night in florence. This would be my first apartment to myself, but I only decided to stay in florence for 2 nights and one full day. I wanted to get to the west coast of italy.

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It turns out my phone died, so instead of sight seeing I ended up spending the day trying to figure out how to get it fixed. Luckily there was an apple store and they fixed in 5 minutes. It has been going dark lately and I’m not sure why. I use it mostly for navigation and I guess I’ll have to keep referring back to the maps if it keeps happening.

I enjoyed Vanessas artsy flat, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see much of Florence. I actually was quite tired anyway. I didn’t have much desire to do sight seeing. So maybe it was a good thing to chill for a bit. I did see the the Florence cathedral, also known as the church of Santa Maria del Fiore, it’s the 4th largest in the world.

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I also found a beautiful spot for an overview shot of Florence!

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My plan has been to see northern Italy, hit the coast to the leaning tower of pisa and then head towards France.  I decided to throw a curve ball into the mix and go to the island of Corsica. There is a 4 hour ferry ride to get there and all I have to do is make it to Livorno. No problem!!!

I left after only a day. I haven’t had but a a few days of leisure time to relax. I know boo hoo! 🙂 So just chilling for a day was nice. So I rode to pisa towards the coast and with the phone now working it helped me get there faster. After of course the token pictures and checking out Pisa’s beauty.

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I headed to a ferry to get to the island of Corsica,. I thought now i’m really working my way into the unknown. I know nothing about the island, except for it’s ruled by France. Where is Corsica? Look it up I did and was intrigued. Ok heres a map.

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Yep Corsica here I come!!! Instead of SI, SI, its back to OUI OUI!

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