In 2014 I was all over the place. I travelled to New Zealand, Australia, India, Thailand, Belgium, France, Spain, and Italy. The time I went motorbiking in Italy will always stay special to me.
Not only because of the food and wine, but more important because of a special local encounter.
Here’s my story of that day:
Tick. A raindrop lands gracefully on my leg. It’s a pleasant, almost soothing sound. Another one follows. Before I know it, my trousers are getting wet. The only option is making myself as small as possible and letting my boyfriend catch the increasingly heavy raindrops.
Why did I agree to go motorbiking in Italy again?
The thought of dry clothes only makes me sadder, so I ignore it.
We’re in the Alpi Apuane, a beautiful, mountainous region in northern Tuscany. It is day nine of our trip through Italy and so far it has been good. The nature is mind-blowing; and today we can take that quite literally.
If you’ve never been on a motorbike in the rain, I can assure you: it is horrible. The day turns into a hide and seek game with the rain until we stop in a little town lost in the mountains.
Murphy’s Law is at its best when we hear the kitchen has closed for the day at the only restaurant in town. Our sad faces and wet clothes must awake some empathy in the owner, because he brings out his best cold food.
While we’re enjoying the cheese and bread a serious-looking cop enters. “Is that your motorbike outside?” he says. Our faces, by this time silly red from the cosy warmth, nod a hesitantly yes. We had quickly parked the motorbike somewhere on the street where it definitely shouldn’t be.
“It is getting wet, would you like to put it somewhere sheltered?” We did not expect this.
“I have a garage where you can place it. And if you want you can come to my house and warm up at the stove.” We definitely did not expect this.
The cop turned out to be Azelio, a proud Carabinieri in his fifties. He is tall, handsome, and exudes authority. Of course we follow his lead. Azelio opens a few bottles of beer and we start talking at the fire, while his son is making his homework.
Nice story, right? But Azelio’s generosity didn’t stop there. He found us a B&B, the only one in town, and walked us up to the door. We felt immensely grateful for his kindness.
Once we showered the cold day off us we went to the kitchen to prepare some food. When we entered the table was set with fresh ravioli and a bottle of wine. Azelio had secretly passed by to give this to us.
I wonder if he ever realised how special he made us feel, and how rare it is for a person to behave like that. Encounters like this make me love the world even more. That’s what travelling is about. Getting lost, wet, feeling miserable and then being surprised by the beautiful people in this world.
Have you had special encounters with locals on your travels? Let me know what happened!
Pictures in this article by Nico Babot, my partner in crime and the motorbike driver 🙂