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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So after a year of rolling lockdowns and unbearable restrictions, it’s time to pack up and go as far as possible, on a motorcycle of course!

One who dares wins, and this year I planned a solo trip to the deep Italian south and the always special island nation of Malta, with exhilarating riding and getting to know interesting people and places in mind.

With the restrictions and obligatory quarantine for Italy starting to gradually lift, I booked a ferry ticket just hours before the grand re-opening of the borders, got a Transit to Malta PLF and a rapid test and there I was, ready to go on the very first post quarantine ship to Italy. Once more I am on the road again and making things happening!

With the ship departing around midnight the situation inside was pretty surreal, very few passengers, great empty spaces and salons. But that turned out to be good because this year I decided to feel young again and didn’t book a cabin, so I had plenty of choices for a good night’s sleep on one of the many available comfy couches. The next morning I was ready to start my journey on Italian soil at the port of Brindisi this time around.



I knew what to expect when it comes to southern Italian road manners, and maybe because of that, maybe because of the numbing lockdowns the situation was pretty good and soon I started rolling towards the tip of the boot.

Following the Reggio Calabria sign the landscape soon became drier, with olive groves and prickly pears, until the Tyrrhenian Sea started shinning on my right towards Tropea, my first destination in the region of Calabria. The road that leads to this beautiful small town is a very pleasant coastal one, so I arrive at my hotel lighthearted and very happy to have chosen the open road instead of the couch yet again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
After a while I started strolling across the roads and alleys of Tropea, that all seem to converge to towards the direction of the sea. Beautiful atmosphere and Mediterranean light, with images evoking films by Giuseppe Tornatore.











The famous red onions of Tropea along with pictures like these, confirm that I undoubtedly am in real Italy!



 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Where all the roads lead is the grand beach of Tropea and the charming islet, or Isola, with its church right upon it, and the view from above is amazing.







The houses built at the age of the cliff are also impressive, and so is the wonderful sunset.







This rewarding day ends with a pizza, a big glass of beer and a delicious tartufo pistachio ice cream.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Everything right for the moment, and after a good breakfast I set off to a renowned destination and a legendary course, etched upon the Sicilian land more than a hundred years ago, where mistakes were not allowed and where only the really greatest drivers of the past could prevail. My trip is soon about to be all about riding pleasure! But for this to happen, I first need to cross the Messina Straight in order to start rolling on Sicilian soil.



The ferry crossing is quick and effortless and I continue westwards towards Cefalu and finally Collesano, a picturesque Sicilian village right upon the Targa Florio route! This time I chose an agriturismo for my stay and not much later I was walking through Collesano towards the Targa Florio museum. Enzo Ferrari and Italian pride on the sign but the most wins belong to Porsche, with their less powerful but usually more agile racing prototypes.

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The model name Targa was inspired from this race, as the Carrera denomination was from the Carrera Panamericana race. All these belong to the history books of course as the race was banned as too dangerous back in 1977, but all the legendary racers of the past definitely won their stripes through road racing. Obviously there are no cars in the museum, but a great wealth of photographs, antiques and documents of that golden era that puts me even more into the mood of what used to be a racing celebration for the area.











 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Agriturismo means nature and well-priced but delicious food made with ultra-fresh local ingredients straight from the farm. As I am preparing for dinner I am happy to see Collesano locals arriving for something to eat too. I order “only” appetizers, main course and dessert, skipping the soup and the first course, and classic Italian beer!



Always perfectly prepared and rested bistecca in Italy, alert them only if you want yours ultra rare.








A delightful meal for a great price!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The next morning it’s time for the riding pleasure to begin, with excellent weather and mood. The original Targa Florio route was essentially the tour of Sicily, but after a while the starting point was set at the town of Cerda and the course was split into the Picollo, Medio and Grande circuits.

These signs stand along the whole course and in every Sicilian village that on it.



I designed my own circuit, with all of the classic Picollo course and some parts of the Medio, incorporating it into a route through the heart of Sicily and towards the port of Pozzalo.

During the first miles after Collesano…



…the road surface is not ideal but the magic is there and my rhythm gets faster and faster.

Soon after, I can see the legendary course stretching upon the Sicilian land and winding around the mountains, and the good road surface shows why this race was not for the faint hearted!

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Continuous altitude and camber variations and every kind of turn interconnected with short, fast curves, surrounded by cliffs and stone barriers or open fields and hedges. So apart from the obvious courage that the racers definitely had it was essential to know every centimeter of the course while maintaining insane momentum, in order to achieve a good lap time after three rounds or 277 miles of road racing.















 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
As for the less talented like me, the unique atmosphere, the harsh but beautiful Sicilian landscape and the occasional dynamic exit out of a turn are enough to make us feel the magic. It’s unbelievable how much riding pleasure my bike has given me, even with all the minor additions, from Stelvio to Targa Florio and from Transalpina to the French Alps! Obviously not a touring bike but very rewarding during the fun riding part of my trips with its agility, low weight and peppy engine. The way it hunts apexes with the gas and wiggles the tail even with luggage on is pure love!











Just outside Caltavuturo I wondered how time have changed, as in the pre-covid era I was literally tired of saluting fellow riders on the road, but now… And then out of the blue I see this guy, an Italian on a BMW with the body language revealing happiness and riding joy.



Ciao my friend!



 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
With the weather ideally cool and spring in full bloom, this wonderful day of motorcycling euphoria continues southwards on the amazing SS120. Part of the Circuito Medio, with delightfully rapid sections and perfect road surface, it crosses the island diagonally before turning right towards the Etna volcano, is the perfect way to complete my glorious ride of the Targa Florio. Today by the way, I also have a ship to catch at Pozzalo at around 19:30 and logic points to the faster Autostrada but I am too weak to abandon the snaky Sicilian mountain routes so I stick to the plan to continue towards the baroque gem that is Ragusa. A mini climb atop the urban ribbon of the Ibla and a quick snapshot…







…and just like that arrive at the port of Pozzalo to check-in and board the ultra-modern Virtu Ferries catamaran.

I’ve already filled a new PLF to Malta but haven’t got a new rapid test as I can get one for free at Valletta’s terminal. Thinking quickly, I leave my big tail bag in a secure parking space at the port and packing all my stuff in the now expanded tank-bag, on order to ride more freely on the island.



Leaving Sicily…



 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
After about two hours the ship enters the dazzling, gleaming Grand Harbor of Valletta, and at the hotel with the same name I get a free upgrade to a room with THIS VIEW!











The next morning there’s no breakfast at the hotel because of covid so I spot a diminutive little pastry shop with a line of people in front and I know that something really good is sold there. And this is how I discovered the pastizzis, a local delicacy of light and crunchy fyllo pastry filled with soft ricotta, prosciutto or chicken!







After tasting the ricotta filled one I immediately order three more, how much do they cost my friend?







Fifty cents each in the center and thirty cents anywhere else! I lost count of how many I ate before leaving the island, or the country to be more accurate, as Malta is an independent state. There’s also the local ftira bread and sandwich but pastizzis simply rule! A stay in Malta is pretty economical in general, if you avoid the obvious tourist traps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
As the refuge of the Knights Templar the whole island is brimming with extremely strong fortifications, often a combination of natural rock and man-made structures. First stop at the Cathedral of Saint John, a temple built by the Knights as a token of their power. Simple and austere from the outside but with an extremely lavish and detailed interior, one the most impressive I’ve ever seen.



 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Here is the perfect place for one more pastizz along with a bottle of Cisk, the local and very refreshing traditional beer.







After lunch and a bit of rest at the hotel, I start riding towards Mdina, the old capital of the island and the neighboring Rabat. Riding in Malta is definitely an experience, not only because I have to stay on the left side of the road but also because everyone seems to do as they wish while driving. The roads vary from average to very narrow lanes with stone walls along them so it’s all about simple movement, but whenever and wherever I want.
 
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