Surprisingly I didn’t wake up with a sore head given that I’ve had a full bottle of wine last night. Good old Balkan blood running through my veins 😁
Ben and I had breakfast together then said our goodbyes. He was heading north and I was still deciding where to next. Looking at the map my eyes stopped by La Spezia. I remember the town well. I was about 18 years old when my boyfriend at the time and I spent the summer cycling from Ljubljana to Barcelona. We spent a few days in La Spezia because he had relatives there and it was free accommodation and cheap food for a few days!
I decided to revisit the town and spend a day exploring the Cinque Terre. Some of the motorway miles were inevitable and I was ok with that. But as soon as I had an option to explore the roads in the area and when the sat nav gave me an option to climb a twisty road over a mountain to get to the other side I didn’t hesitate. I revved the engine and pointed the bike in that direction.
Coming off the motorway was bliss and an instant change in riding and the scenery. The road started winding uphill and the sun was beaming down. It was hot and dry and I stopped often for a drink of water. I was worried Bella might complain but she kept purring and taking on the miles effortlessly.
I stopped to admire small villages sitting on the sides of the mountains only to later find myself riding through them. Bella announced our arrival with the sounds of Akrapovič and the quiet, peaceful villages with shutters closed and having an afternoon siesta were rudely interrupted. But I didn’t care. I was beaming and loving every second of it.
I could see we were nearing the top of the mountain and was looking forward to the views from the top and the descent towards the Cinque Terre. A couple more twisties and then a barrier across the road. Ok. No sign, no clue that the road was closed until I’ve arrived nearly to the top. Which meant the only way back was where I came from. Could have been worse but I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get to see the other side of the mountain.
I turned around and stopped at a bridge for a stretch of legs and to capture the memories on a video.
I rode back and watched the same villages look different from this angle, the views I’ve missed on the way up were opening up and making this detour totally worth it. I had to go through a small town to get back on the motorway and I was baking! It was roasting hot, the traffic was incredibly slow and of course Ducati’s special heating feature was burning my thighs 🔥Still, it never wiped the grin off my face.
After jumping back on the motorway I followed the sat nav to my accommodation. I decided to stay at the north end of Cinque Terre and visit La Spezia so I’m on the right side in the morning for going north.
Once I’ve rejoined the motorway I must say, it wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t your average motorway with nothing to see, oh no. Quite the opposite. The views were amazing but nowhere to stop! The road weaved in and out of the tunnels and around the mountaintops with sea views. Incredible. You’d be forgiven to think you are not on a motorway.
Luckily the hotel wasn’t too far and I checked in surprised to find it had a Michelin star restaurant! Good job I have packed a dress!
I unloaded the bag and took an hour out to cool down and rest. Then I rode to explore the coast of Cinque Terre. It looks like great fun on the map. Don’t be fooled. It’s a bloody nightmare! Incredible narrow roads with side vegetation growing freely over the barriers and onto the road, steep inclines and descents with sharp switchbacks and Italian drivers. Add to this the sweltering heat and nowhere to stop on the side of the road for photos and you get one cranky Maja 🤣
Tip – get a tourist train from Sestri Levante or similar. You’ll enjoy it much more.
First stop was Monterosso al Mare where I parked like a local and walked in for an ice cream. It is a beautiful town with colourful houses and typical coastal Italian architecture. Narrow streets with laundry hanging overhead from one side of the street to the other, no cars, lots of shops and cafes with people chattering away. Oh, and full of bloody tourists in t-shirts and shorts while I’m walking around in full bike gear! I sat on a bench looking over the sea and eat my ice cream really fast as it was melting quicker than I could lick it.
On the way back a family with a young boy stopped and asked if he can have a photo taken with the bike. His face was priceless, his big eyes lit up when I said of course, and he flashed the biggest of smiles to me, then his mum for a photo.
I set off to the next village and decided to have a closer look at Vernazza. Great idea. Except the roads were even narrower and bendier and full of gravel. You had to park about a 10 minute walk up a hill and walk to town. In sweltering heat. In full bike gear. You get the idea. But I’m no quitter so off I went.
Another absolutely gorgeous town with tiny, family run shops, cafes, beautiful churches, beaches and bloody tourists. I decided to seek a refuge inside a restaurant. They thought I was joking because everyone wanted to sit outside but I was baking and indoors was cool with a nice breeze. Lunch was delicious and I could have murdered someone for a beer but instead drank 2 litres of water.
I had to walk back to the bike, uphill and it was still hot. It took a little longer than just 10 minutes. I was so grateful to get going again just for that little bit of the wind that cooled me down.
By then the day was starting to turn into the evening and I rode down to La Spezia and back up on the motorway for about 15 minutes to get back to the hotel.
After a cold beer, a shower and trying to make myself half presentable in a dress I walked over to the restaurant for dinner.
Wow! Just wow. I loved the whole experience. A complimentary glass of Prosecco and chef’s nibbles on arrival. A beautiful setting, tastefully decorated and a fire pit outside the patio door. I’ve asked them to keep my glass topped up and chose my order. I can’t remember what I ate but the started did have gin balls on the plate. An easy choice to make.
You can imagine I slept like a baby in the air conditioned room ☺️It sure was one of the busiest days so far.
The total for the day was 216.89 miles