Be Italian for a week. Ride across Italy and watch MotoGP at Mugello
Race fans who don’t know how to ride!
Can you believe there are fans of MotoGP who don’t ride motorcycles? Shocking isn’t it! How is this possible? Well it is really good racing even if you don’t know which side the brake lever is on.The coverage is superb and the action the past few seasons has been monumental. Still, we were surprised to discover many years ago that there are MotoGP vacations packages, for people who don’t ride! Well that’s not for us. Leod Escapes made a motorcycle vacation with MotoGP.
Motorcycles, MotoGP and Mangia Mangia
We know the tourism trade pretty well. We’ve seen a few other motorcycle tours being offered with MotoGP around the globe and some sell well, it’s just to us they seem too touristy. The “Leod” style is to ask, “If you had a local cousin who was a motorcyclist, where would he take you?”The answer is always the same in every country. Go to less tourist traps, more curvy backroads, some hotels with character and much better food. In Italy, legions of fresh racers are trained up by turning them loose on Italy’s many curvy roads.For a motorcycle rider, roads like Abetone pass hold far more appeal than the leaning tower for Pisa. A real MotoGP fan wants the opportunity to be there on qualifying day on Saturday while perhaps his partner roams about Florence.To really enjoy the race we know from experience you need a grandstand reserved seat. A standard general admission ticket won’t cut it when fanatical Italians arrive 5 days prior to snatch up the good spots. Finally, if there’s any country where you really want to eat like a local rather than in the hotel restaurant, it’s Italy. Yes “Mangia Mangia” is what your Italian cousin will aggressively say when the food arrives.
The worlds oldest tourist trap still works
As much as we tend to stay off the tourist path, there’s no avoiding the Eternal city of Rome. After years of starting and ending our “Track & Tour” packages in Rome we’ve learned what visitors usually end up enjoying the most in Rome and we pass on the tricks of how to do it with the least hassle. Enrico our 7th generation Roman also knows how to add a sincere touch of authenticity as well. It’s very common for people to arrive a few days early to walk off the jet lag and we always tell them how to do it right.
Ride like an Italian
When your riding friends visit your home turf you take them to the best curvy roads only a local knows.This is why Enrico leads the way when we are in Italy. He’s in touch with the local riding community and he’s ridden all over Italy for decades. He knows where the repaving has happened, he knows where the local riders stop. He knows when to send the faster riders ahead to wick it up a bit.You’ll learn that Italian drivers aren’t crazy; they are just aggressive and skilled. They expect you to be the same. That means turning and braking to avoid incidents rather than just panic braking. This also means lane splitting and learning how to bounce over cobblestones. While we won’t be tearing up the road this is certainly not a beginners tour, we will be enjoying the curves.
Eat like an Italian
Included breakfasts are fine but this is not a country were you want the prepackaged hotel dinner for tourists. This is Italy and you want to eat savor the 4 hour ritual that is the Italian dinner. Order what you like but take some local advice from our guide as he gossips with the waiter. It’s aperitif, first course, wine, second course, wine, desert… a digestif or dessert wine and whole lot of conversation and laughing in between.Lunches are a great time to discover how good simple dishes can be when cooked with amazing fresh ingredients and some culinary expertise. People come for the sights and the great riding but they always return home raving about the food as well.
Sleep like an Italian
Where you stay is just as important part of your vacation as where you ride. The Leod perspective is the hotel should authentically reflect the place you are staying. Rome is the only place where you stay in a hotel meant for foreigners. So in Sienna you’ll stay in a converted country villa overlooking the city. In the Bologna industrial area where Ducati is, you’ll stay where an Italian businessman would stay.In Orvieto you’ll stay where an Italian couple would go for weekend, a fashionable wine resort. In Florence you’ll stay in a small downtown villa that used to belong to a local count. The idea is to stay where vacationing locals would stay, so you experience Italy like an Italian.
Watch MotoGP like an Italian
The race coverage for MotoGP on screen is excellent but that’s just seeing the race. To experience the feeling of MotoGP you have to be there and Mugello tops the charts when it comes to being there. There’s all other MotoGP races and then there’s Mugello. When it comes to the passionate fever of the fans, only the races at Catalunya or Valencia could be seen as competition. For sheer beauty of location the Redbull ring in Austria comes close. For close racing on a circuit riders and fans love Phillip Island. Mugello brings all these elements together. However, it does require you to think more like an Italian to enjoy it.Italians have a higher comfort level for disorganized mayhem. A large event like MotoGP is about enjoying the whole spectacle as a group. Being together with fellow fans, cheering and arguing about who’s better and pulling off the tricky pass through Casanova, this is the real reason they are there.Huge crowds are part of the fun. Delays don’t really matter because everyone is off work today and enjoying life. On a regular day it would take you an fun filled 50 minutes to get from Florence to Mugello. On race weekend it can take you up to three times as long. Motorcycle riders like our tour group have a distinct advantage and can split traffic but it still takes a while. The trick is to remind yourself you are not at work and to just enjoy life. This something most Italians do subconsciously, even when they are at work.So what’s the spectacle here? The array of specially tuned engines turned into odd noise makers. The scooters racing up and down the footpaths. The people, some of whom have been drunk for days and others who let their usual Italian dedication to fashion drift in dangerous ways. The throngs of fans that invade the circuit after the race is over to celebrate on the course itself. The roar of the crowd that overpowers the sound of the engines. This is an event you can feel. We’ll be back in the Ducati Grandstand in turn 12, because what could be more Italian than that?For more, visit Leod Escapes.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.