All roads lead to Rome…

(Emily) Having changed her flight to depart from Rome instead of Dubrovnik as originally planned, Jessie had to be at the airport for about 7pm on Friday evening giving us the day to make the 150+ km there from the agriturismo. Plenty of time… so Jack had used his trusty satnav to rustle up a 300 km route that would take us round the top of Lake Bolsana and west towards the coast where there was an island/peninsula to explore and then the coast road down to Rome! Sounded do-able, and the weather wasn’t too bad so off we went. No problem as we went past Pitigliano, a small town impossibly perched on a rocky ridge, and down through Manciano on fantastic sweeping roads. James and I picked up some provisions on the way (the KTM speeding off ahead of us) and we all enjoyed a picnic lunch from a great viewpoint on the island peninsula. That’s when it all started to get a bit hairy…

We should have started to suspect something as the roads started to deteriorate and narrow, and although my Italian is rudimentary, I’m sure there was a sign saying something to the effect of ‘private land, access only’ but Jack had spoken to a local who said that yes, it was possible to circumnavigate the whole island. The question was, were we on the right road? Seeing as the satnav abruptly stopped showing any trace of road whatsoever, I’m guessing no!! The cars that kept coming past us for the second time having done a u-turn should have been another clue! For Jack and his adventurous spirit, this was all a walk in the park, but I have to say that once the tarmac disappeared for good and there was only rocks and gravel, I wasn’t sure I could continue. Hence, the next hour was a painfully slow palaver of me going about 10 miles per hour on what I felt I could do (and all the while muttering expletives into my mike) and then James having to come back on foot and rescue me to do the steep bits I just didn’t have the confidence to tackle. James was a hero; unerringly patient and encouraging, despite getting increasingly sweaty and tired from walking back to me in the heat on the uneven terrain. Jess and Jack, meanwhile, were at the end and being entertained by a crazy 68 year old local jogger performing cartwheels!! Surreal!

(James)  The result of our little off road session was that we had taken 2 hours longer than had originally been intended and so, with Jessie’s flight being that evening, we were suddenly a little pushed for time and were going to have to make up for it by taking the Autostrada for the 130kms down to Rome – something not pleasant at the best of times but when combined with Italian drivers and the fact fully loaded our bikes top cruising speed is about 65mph, makes it pretty tedious. Eventually, however we pulled off the autostrada and parked up at the airport where we were able to sit down and spend half an hour with Jessie before she went through to her gate. It was another sad moment for us and one I know that Em and Jess in particular had both been dreading as it meant saying good bye to another family member.

Having seen Jess off we headed back to the bikes and got ready to ride into Rome itself – a scary enough prospect at the best of times, but this was late rush hour on a Friday night! Still, at least, I assured Em through our intercom system I could talk her through it, that was until as we were leaving the airport Em’s voice suddenly cut out and we were faced with the oh-so-slightly inconvenient realisation that the batteries on the head set had died!…

Throughout our trip to date, Matthew and I had taken turns leading or keeping up the rear with Em in the middle so she would feel less vulnerable (me generally at the rear unless we were in mountains or on very technical roads  or steep hairpins at which point I would go to the front and show her the correct line to follow and advise her on what to expect next, gear choice, oncoming traffic etc.) This allowed me to talk her through what she was doing, respond to her concerns and generally slowly build her confidence. It was a system that had worked well thus far, but here suddenly there was no Matthew and no chance for communication. As we got to some traffic lights in the Rome suburbs, and with cars coming up either side of us (there didn’t ‘have’ to be a space for them!) we were able to agree a system which Em was happy with. Em stayed close to Jack, who was leading with the satnav (a difficult task in itself to concentrate on this while negotiating the crazy traffic but we would have been lost without it), and I was to act as a ‘blocker’ at the rear to ensure no cars got to close to her and clearing lanes for her when we needed to change lanes or make a turn.

Our destination was Jack’s friend and fellow EasyJet pilot, Charlie’s apartment in the Trastevere area of Rome. Charlie had very kindly agreed to put the three of us (plus all of our luggage!) up for a couple of nights and even gave up his bed, despite the fact that he was having to get up at 4.30 am the next morning for work! Having found his place in the myriad of tiny packed back streets, we lugged our stuff up to his flat (naturally, on the fourth floor), had a quick change and went straight out for something to eat and a much needed drink in Trastevere, an area it turns out famous for all its bars and good restaurants and very popular with the locals. Bizarrely, as we sat there at a restaurant, Em received a text from her friend Lauren, who had spent a year living in Rome, suggesting that if we had the chance we should go to this vey area for a night out! Charlie is one of life’s real characters and has clearly already made an impression on the locals who all seem to know him. We weren’t in for a dull time!!

2 Responses to “All roads lead to Rome…”

  1. Hi,Excellent article dude! i am just Tired of using RSS feeds and do you use twitter?so i can follow you there:D.
    PS:Have you thought to be putting video to the blog posts to keep the readers more enjoyed?I think it works.Best regards, Refugio Warstler

  2. admin says:

    Hi Refugio, thanks for your message and we’re glad you’re enjoying the blog of our trip. At the moment, we’re not using Twitter (we still haven’t finished our site yet so on the few chances we get where there is internet access or we have spare time – not often – we try to update) but perhaps in the future. We will try to add some video at some point but we’ve only just replaced our camera that was able to shoot video.
    Best wishes,
    James and Emily.

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