On my ride along the B-Roads from Milan to Rome, my little ’61 Vespa, Sophia, opened so many doors for me. People stopped to admire her. Others helped me get her started when she was reluctant to begin the day. Some bought me a coffee. And nearly all of them shook their head in wonder when I told them I was riding her all the way to Rome.
I wasn’t just another tourist. I was an honoured guest.
At other times, Sophia got me into places that others simply couldn’t reach – quite literally. No matter how narrow the cobbled lane, no matter what local ordinance restricted vehicle access, Sophia could just putter past and take me right to the door.
Until I reached Cinque Terre.
When I arrived at the boom gate at the top of Vernazza, stopping vehicles from going any further, I expected the security guard to lift the gate and wave me through. Instead he pointed to the car park and told me to leave my precious Sophia there. Nothing I could say would convince him to let me past.
Sophia spent the night chained to a sign under a cliff face prone to rock falls. I spent the night in Vernazza as just another tourist.
It was our only night apart on the trip and I didn’t like it. Not one little bit.