There is just something about Italian machinery and vehicles. It doesn’t matter whether it is a car, bike, motorcycle, ship, or train. They may not be the best technically or yield the best numbers, but man they are always good looking, and have a certain brio lacking in the offerings from more, let’s say efficient nations. Think Ferrari 24GT, Ducati 916, Macchi C202 Folgore.
Brave new world
Recently an old friend of mine has left behind his extremely capable, very sensible Yamaha MT07 Tracer. It’s replacement? He has bought himself a rather silly and completely fabulous Aprilia RS660. What a cracking looking bike!
I have a bit of a thing for Italian bikes and cars, as does another old friend. Therefore, it seemed the only thing to do was a gathering of the ‘Italian Stallions’. By this I refer to the bikes. The riders? Not so much!
So it was that on a bright sunny morning that the three of us gathered at the meet point. Each of us riding a Latin lovely. The Aprilia, my Ducati 800 Scrambler and a Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber. Three totally different bikes, but all so attractive. If only the same could be said of the owners!
The Italian Stallions
Proud owner of the stunning Aprilia RS660
Sadly, no ride along the Amalfi coast beckoned, rather the rather lovely English Cotswolds. First destination was The Classic Motor Hub to see if they had a suitably Italian stock for us to admire. The ride across the stunning Cotswolds was lovely. I have said this many times, it a beautiful and idyllic place. I am convinced Americans think we all live in places like this.
My Ducati Classic and my friends Guzzi V9 are perfectly suited to this type of road. However, they approach them in totally different ways. The Scrambler wants to attack them, squirting from bend to bend, spraying gravel on exit. The Guzzi is just too cool for all that. That’s more laid back and wafting along on a wall of torque as the rider surveys his surroundings through a pair of wrap-around shades.
Meanwhile the Aprilia RS660, whilst perfectly happy on these twisting and tight B roads, longs for a technical A road. Preferably with a better surface and series of bends to slice through. Here it would be king for the day. Its change in type for the owner and he seems to be loving the bike so far.
Our route took us from our meeting point next to J7 of the M5 along Pershore Lane, across the B4077 and 4078 and a myriad of minor roads until we rocked up at home of The Classic Motor Hub. It might be really tucked away, but the stock is impressive and sure enough there bellissimo examples of both four and two wheeled Italian lovelies to admire. There is a really excellent tea room on site. We enjoyed a hot drink and a delicious rotolo di salsiccia.
Checking out The Classic Motor Hub
Rotolo di Salsiccia!
In the beautifully presented showroom, the first car on display was a Dino 246GT. Named for the son of Enzo Ferrari it’s pretty difficult to get more definitively Latin. Lithe, flowing lines, a rasping V6 engine! Elsewhere the showroom boasted a near perfect Maserati Bora, a simply gorgeous Alfa GTA and classic examples of both MV Agusta and Moto Guzzi machines. We had come to the right place
Ferrari Dino 246GT – Art, pure and simple
Maserati Bora, somewhat more exciting that the similarly titled VW of more recent times
The lads appreaciating a true Italian classic, Alfa Romeo
The motorcycle company founded by an Italian aristocrat. How cool is that??
Our Moto Guzzi pilot checking out a rather earlier example than his mount for the day
What’s the Italian for Bodie and Doyle? The actual Capris from The Professionals TV show. Capri is an Italian Island!
See, the Cotswolds is really Italian…
Back on the bikes once more and we continued on our way across this stunning landscape to the Roman Villa at Chedworth. Well, we had to check on our bike’s roots, didn’t we? Well worth visiting this Villa to check out the remains of what was once a splendid building.
The Romans would not build such straight roads if they had these to play with!
The site of the Roman Villa…worth checking out
Back on the bikes we enjoyed the Georgian splendour of Cheltenham before heading to the home of Morgan Cars in Malvern. Morgan Cars? Malvern? What does this definitively British pairing have to do with Italy? Just to add to ‘Land of Hope Glory’ pomp of it all, we arrived to be greeted by a car park full of classic Triumph sports cars. Their owners were a mix of Swiss and Germans on a motoring tour.
Morgan is Italian?! Who Knew?
The scene and setting couldn’t be more British if a Spitfire swept overhead and did a victory roll. Well, you’re wrong there! In recent years ownership of this cornerstone of the British automotive landscape has been in Italian ownership. So, it fitted with the theme.
Italian and British style
In the last couple of years Morgan has opened an on site experience centre, that boasts a showroom, shop and restaurant. Oddly enough they also serve a delicious rotolo di salsiccia. It would have been rude not to have one!
The Last Leg
Suitably refuelled and impressed by the beautiful cars on display it was back onto the bikes for the final leg of our outing: On to Midwest Moto on the outskirts of Stourport on Severn. Yet more wafting across lush countryside along A and B roads. All three of us were having a whale of a time on our respective mounts. Thankfully the weather was being rather more Italian than British as the sun beat down and temperatures hovered around the 30ºC mark.
They sell Moto Morini and Fantic bikes, so it seemed fitting to visit some Italian cousins. Its and interesting place to visit as it also sells a number of other brands. Split over two levels, it has a cracking on-site café too and a decent range of (Indian branded) clothing.
Good to see the Moto Morini brand back in action, even if it is the spirit that is Latin rather than the build
So, with our Italian all done we decided to go a bit more British and head to the pub for a cooling drink on a baking hot day. The Angel pub in Stourport, overlooking the River Severn provided the perfect way to round of the day. Even this has a tenuous Italian link as the Romans made several settlements along its course!
All three bikes performed impeccably and it’s great to see such a variety of bikes on the market now. The diversity available to us bikers now is the best it has been in decades. Long may it continue.
Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly