So, 11 days went by in a flash. Again. My third Ducati tour of the islands of Corsica and Sardegna and I am already looking forward to the next one in 2016. How come? Let me tell you about this year's tour and you might understand why.
It all starts in Bologna. This is where Ducatis are brought to life. If you have some time before the tour go and explore the "Red City". Italy out of the textbook.
But back to the tour: First thing on day one - a visit to the Ducati museum and factory in Borgo Panigale. See the legends of yesterday and observe how those of tomorrow are assembled. Get some of the necessary outfit at the shop nearby and then it's time to hit the road. The winding one.
At the Ducati museum.
Heading up into the Appenin mountains. First its rolling hills up to the lunch break at a typical Italian restaurant. After food and coffee the mountains get more serious, hardly a straight stretch of road. That's what we came for, right? That's what I am here for at least. Once over the pass it is downhill towards the coast. A short sightseeing stop at Lucca, then past Pisa to dinner on the shore before we make it to the ferry in Livorno.
Put the bikes to sleep in the huge decks of the ferry, grab a beer at the bar of the ship and then have a good night on the ship. Awake in the morning to the sight of Sardegna. You will have noticed the numerous motorbikes on the ferry. There must be something about this island that makes motorcyclists come here. You'll soon find out.
Day two. Leaving the hustle and bustle of the harbour town of Olbia behind, we enjoy our Italian breakfast of cappuccino , cornetto and spremuta to be prepared for what follows: A beautiful winding road along the coast, a bit of traffic, but every kilometre that we move away from Olbia means less cars, but more open roads and more twists and turns. Past Dorgali we climb into the mountains and here the fun starts. Don't even try to count the curves. It is easier to keep a count on straight stretches of road longer than 500m. Got an idea now, why so many bikes were on the ferry? As we ride over the last mountain pass today, a spectacular view awaits. 700m below is the sea and our destination for today - Arbatax. But not before you have mastered another few hundred curves. Not bad for a first day.
15km and roughly 200 curves away from today's destination - Arbatax
Day three. One could spend a week in Arbatax, but we have other plans. Across the island to the west coast, to Alghero. It is going to be a long day. So we climb up to Lanusei and Gairo. Left, right, left, right... Again, no lack of curves and views. Once over the passes, the landscape changes to rolling hills again. A bit of history and sightseeing at the famous Nuraghe at Su Nuraxi near Barumini. Then on to the coast and past Oristano. Up the coastal road in nice, sweeping turns. Quite a change to the switchbacks in the morning. Past Alghero - tomorrow we have a chance to visit this beautiful town - to Maristella. Here we spend two nights right by the sea.
Day four. Tough choices today: Sleep in and enjoy a relaxing day on the beach or rise early and explore the hinterland of Alghero. Or spend a day exploring the town of Alghero. I choose to ride and visit the Nuraghe Sant' Antipe, an impressive witness of the prehistoric era of the island. Still I had time to enjoy the beach, the views and the bar of the hotel.
The little white spot in the background is our hotel. No need to explain the red thing in the front.
Not a bad view to wake up to...
Inside the Nuraghe
Day five. Last day on the island of Sardegna. The road from Alghero to Santa Teresa Gallura takes us past the famous church of Trinita di Saccargia before the road winds into the mountains and through forests of cork oaks. The production of cork is a major business in this part of the island and it makes for some pretty scenery. Bypassing Olbia, we reach the Costa Smeralda, well known for its emerald waters (hence the name) and for being a perfect holiday spot - if you can afford it. We have a look and continue to the port of Santa Teresa, were a small ferry waits to take us across the water to Corsica, "The Island of Beauty" as it is also called. We will soon discover why.
Yet another ferry trip, a short one though.
After an hour on the ship we debark at Bonifacio, ride up into the old town, were our hotel stands high above the Mediterranean, offering a magnificent view across the sea. Our first French - or rather Corsican - dinner in the old part of town will exemplify the differences of the two neighbouring islands.
Approaching Bonifacio from the sea.
Day six. Now, how are the roads in Corsica? Well, curvy! Again, a bit of traffic as we leave Bonifacio in the morning, but we leave that behind as soon as we leave the main coastal road. We pass Porto Veccio, take in a coffee at Solenzara with a view of the marina and then start the climb to the Col de Bavella. Up from 0m to 1215m in 30km and umpteen curves (Don't even try to count them!). It is a popular destination, this pass, so we are lucky to be on two wheels.
Col de Bavella at 1215m. Keeping the clouds away.
Lunch in Zonza brings us close to the national staple - wild boar. But there's also fish on the menu... The roads lead us down to the west coast into the island's capital Ajaccio. We reside right next to the birthplace of the islands most famous son: Napoleon Bonaparte.
The bikes also need a rest.
Yes, it is part of France, but...
Day seven. Today combines the best of two worlds: A road along the mountainous west coast. Breathtaking scenery at the Calanche, listed a natural world heritage. After seeing it you know why. Speed is better reduced here, as the road is narrow (very!) and cars and campers are abundant. But only on a short stretch. The lunch at Porto on the seafront gives strength for the remaining distance of twists and turns towards Calvi.
Porto - the Genuese tower as seen from the restaurant.
The dark clouds remained inland.
Calvi - the citadel
Day eight. Another rest day of decisions: There are at least 6km of beach along the bay next to Calvi. There is Calvi and its citadel. And there is the road up into the highest mountains of Corsica, up into the Asco valley. Again, I chose the road, while our guests enjoyed a boat trip along the coast - yet another option.
The road in Asco Valley
Day nine. The final day on the island. Somebody was not happy and put a blanket of clouds into the sky for our last riding day on Corsica. However, it didn't stop us from enjoying the road to Bastia. Along the northern coast, then across the "Desert des Agriates" for a coffee stop at St-Florent.
Clouds over Cap Corse
The low clouds kept us from exploring the small roads of Cap Corse, so we opted for the shortcut across the Col de Teghime. Nothing wrong with this, the road offers great views and took us to the embarkation point just in time. Another ferry, another opportunity to relax and replay in your mind the last few days. In the evening a short ride into Pisa. The hotel right next to the leaning tower with a rooftop terrace (and bar!) overlooking the city.
Day ten. The last day of the tour - back to Bologna. Back across the Appenin, that means more curves, more Italian food until finally the mountains turn into rolling hills again and the plain of the Po river opens up. The Ferrari museum at Maranello for those who also fancy fast machines on four wheels before it is back into Bologna. Have we really been away for ten days?