I had the time to take my first long motorcycle trip but was undecided on a destination. I knew it had to be some place with great driving roads and close to the sea. I first thought, the Amalfi coast. It would make for a great road trip through Italy and besides, Amalfi has always been on my bucket list. Then I remembered it’s August and the coast would be teeming with tourists itching to scratch Amalfi off their own lists. My second thought was Sardinia, a place I was keen on re-visiting, as I had only been to Chia on the southern tip of the island.
So I began researching ferries from mainland Italy. I found that it would better logistically to go from Livorno, Italy to Bastia in Corsica, ride down to Bonifacio in the south, spend the night, then take another ferry from there to San Teresa Gallura, Sardinia. However, during this research phase I happened to see a video on Youtube of a family’s road trip through central Corsica. I knew little about the island, other than it was French and north of Sardinia. What I didn’t know, was that Corsica had mountains – real mountains too, that reached an altitude of nearly 3000 meters. After seeing a few more videos of the island my decision was made – Sardinia would just have to wait.
This would be a trip of firsts for me; first long distance, overnight motorcycle trip, first time going to Corsica, first time crossing the Ligurian sea and first time camping – as an adult. This meant I had to buy camping gear which, of course, I’d be strapping to the back of my bike. Staying on the topic of gear for a moment, I figured this trip would be as good an excuse as any to buy some proper motorcycle gear as well. I had the jacket and gloves already and so was just looking for a pair of boots and pants. I ended up buying Dainese New Drake Air textile pants and Dainese Pannier sport touring boots. More on those later. Besides the camping gear, I had a small duffle and a back pack for my cameras and laptop. I was happy that everything fit well on the bike with nothing really hanging too far off the bike or piled up too high on the seat to create much drag. Still, it made for a cramped ride on the Monster.
So last week I set off for the Tuscan coast where I would spend the night camping in Viareggio. I booked my ferry using Moby, which sailed from Livorno at 8 am the next morning. A tip for anyone doing the same: save the extra money booking a seat as you can sit in the bar area or along the main corridor for free. Likewise, you can roam around outside on the decks, sitting on benches or beach chairs. After strapping the bike down I ventured off to find my “poltrona” or seat which was located on the top deck inside the dark and super air-conditioned, “seat room”. The room was nearly empty with the exception of two people bundled up inside their sleeping bags in the fetal position, braving the 10 degree temperature. So I moved outside and parked myself on a bench where I met Giorgio.
At first, there was a simple nod, acknowledging that we were both bikers. Then after about a half hour of staring at the containers in the motionless loading bay in front of us we started to make small talk beginning with, “So Corsica…” It didn’t take long before we realized that we had both set off to do essentially the same trip: ride the along the north and west coast of Corsica then cut into the center to ride the mountain passes. The affable Giorgio, 46, from Vicenza, Italy is a veteran motociclista. Riding his most recent bike, a 2005 Suzuki SV650, he talked about his various trips he has made in Europe, riding as far west as Portugal, as north as London and as east as Turkey – apart from numerous road trips and mountain passes through Italy, Austria, Switzerland and France. I had little to offer other than my few documented road trips on this blog. The conversation made the four and a half hour trip to Bastia go by much sooner as we were hitting it off like old friends, talking travel, bikes and the inevitable Italy vs Canada comparisons. Shortly before docking, Giorgio asked if I wanted to ride together at least until his friend, Claudia, joined him some two days later. I figured, why not and before long we were looking at a Michelin map of Corsica planning our itinerary for the day.
We arrived at the port of Bastia by 12:30 and immediately set off north along the east coast of the “finger” of Corsica, Cap Corse. It didn’t take long to leave Bastia behind as within ten minutes we were on some pretty spectacular coastal road.
After a quick stop for lunch in Macinaggio, we cut across the top of the finger and rode to Centuri where we found a camp site down by the water, Camping L’Isulottu. The next morning we hit the road again, this time riding down the west side.
Check out the video below for a taste of some of the driving and dramatic coastline.
We stopped at this lookout point facing the old asbestos mine. Pollution from that mine was the cause of the blackened beaches found further down the coast. The largest and most famous of these is found below the town of Nonza. It’s quite an eerie site seeing the long, darkened beach nearly void of people, even in high season.