Italy's Piedmont Region
Posted 29 September 2011 - 09:43 AM
I arrived in Italy just in time for Moto Guzzi's 90th anniversary party in Mandello del Lario on the shores of idyllic Lake Como. From Parma to the Italian Lake District is but a mere three hour jaunt via la autostrada. Usually, seeing another Guzzi on the road is a rare event however, as I approached Lake Como almost all the bikes seen on the road were other Guzzis, which was rather a strange experience. The only hotel I could find was across the lake in Bellagio, but this really wasn't a problem as Lake Como ferries run regular routes across the lake. After checking in to the hotel, I boarded the ferry for the 15 minute ride across the lake to Varenna.
Taking in the views and the cool lake breezes on the crossing
Nuthin but Guzzis on the ferry. I met some Dutch riders who had ridden from Holland to Mandello in one day.
Approaching ferry port of Varenna on the eastern shore of Lake Como.
From Varenna to Mandello was a quick 15 minute hop. Many businesses along the road to Mandello had Guzzi banners hung out to welcome the hordes. I arrived late Friday afternoon and the place was already brimming with Guzzisti. As I walked around taking in the sights, Guzzisti from all over Europe continued to roll into town.
I've posted a more detailed report on the Guzzi gathering here:
Moto Guzzi's 90th Anniversary Party
After two days spent ogling the bikes, it was time to move on. Leaving Lake Como, an early snowfall had dusted the alpine foothills
I headed west along the base of the Alps. The roads on the southern side of the lakes are clogged with traffic and it's not until you get past the western most lake, Lake Orta, that I begin to get a respite.
I spot a road on the map that heads up into the mountains before dead ending at the ski resort of Alagna Valsesia. I'm always intrigued by those end-of-the-road places and decided to make that my stop for the night. The town seems a veritable ghost town with most hotels closed for the season, but I luck out and manage to find a hotel that has remained open.
The following morning dawns with clear blue skies providing a clear view of the largest mountain in the area, La Monte Rosa.
Heading back down into the lowlands of the Po Valley
There's a rather abrupt transition from the mountains to the plains
A small village with the snow peaked Alps in the distance
As I continue southwards, the terrain begins to turn to undulating hills as I reach the Langhe area of Piedmont.
The Lonely Planet refers to Piedmont as ‘Tuscany without the tourists’, as its hills lined with vineyards bears a resemblance to its southern counterpart.
The area is famous for its wines as well as its white truffles. I stay at the Hotel Castello di Sinio run by an American woman with a super friendly staff and a great ambiance. I manage to arrive right during the white truffle season and get an opportunity to sample truffles in the local cuisine. The Piedmont Region has become known as the seat of the Slow Food movement in Italy. I've stated before that it's almost impossible to get a bad meal in Italy.
Piedmont has an undiscovered air about it, as the vast hordes of tourists and tourist buses seen in Tuscany are absent, making you feel as if you have the whole place to yourself.
The area around Asti and Alba is crisscrossed with roads snaking their way through farms and vineyards. As it was harvest time, I often encountered farm tractors on the road but they moved slowly so it was fairly easy to pass them.
After two days in Piedmont, it was time to make my way back to home base in Parma. I think that one of the reasons there are so few visitors to the Langhe area is that it is difficult to traverse from east to west. Most of the main roads run perpendicular to the coast, leaving paved goat trails running east to west. This might be why most people stay on the autostrada and continue on down to Tuscany.
Still, I was determined not to take the autostrada to Parma and forged ahead, stringing together a series of backroads. Just south of Tortona, I decided to stop for the night. I continued forging my way eastward by sticking to the backroads. The terrain was still hilly, but less picturesque than the Langhe, so I didn't stop for any pictures. Sometimes I took a wrong fork in the road and would end up on a remote goat trail before my instincts kicked in and told me that this didn't seem like a major artery.
Finally, at around two in the afternoon, I reached the town of Bardi with a main highway leading to Parma. The road from Bardi to Parma is a stellar motorcycling road with fast, sweeping curves seemingly custom made for the Goose. The Guzzi's massive torque, like an avalanche sweeping away everything before it, easily overtook any cars in its path. Before long, we were back in Parma bringing a great week of riding to an end.
Riding Days: 7
Rest Days: 1
Mileage: 2500 km
Police encounters: 0
Bee stings: 0
Posted 29 September 2011 - 11:27 AM
However, the best "WOW" curiosity pic for me of the sights available at Mandello was this one...
Posted 03 October 2011 - 06:47 PM
Oh, and happy birtday, my noble man!
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