Originally Posted by fly1981
... planning a bike trip through Italy sometime in the next 6 months....rent a bmw 1200 gs, I'd like the trip to be about 2 weeks long. If any of you have any advise for me regarding potential route, accomodation or just general information, and you are willing to share it with me, I'd appreciate it...
Never ridden a bike in Italy, so this is all car-based info. Peak travel season is end of July through first part of September. Prices go up, crowds are intense at typical tourist destinations. If there's something in particular you'd like to see, then make sure it's open on the days you'll be in the area -- some places close during the week, especially museums.
Avoid riding through the middle of large towns as they have "permit" traffic only -- if you're not supposed to be there you'll be fined by mail, I've paid 80 Euro fine plus another 60 Euro service fee for tracking me down. These areas are identified as ZTL (Zona Traffico Limitado) and typically are inside the major ring road around downtown. If your hotel is inside the ZTL then you are permitted to drive in the ZTL if your hotel registers your vehicle with the authorities.
The Ducati factory in Bologna offers tours and it's worth it if you're in the area. Get to see the machines put together and then the museum as well. Costs 10 Euro and you need to schedule in advance. By luck I was there when the Diavel was first rolled out, and got to see it in blackout paint and the regular red version too. Figure two hours at a minimum. They're located at:
Ducati Motor Holding
Via Antonio Cavalieri Ducati 3
40132 Bologna - Italy
On weekends the large delivery trucks (tractor trailers, lorries, HGV) are not allowed to drive (with a few exceptions) from 3pm Saturday until 10pm Sunday. Rest of the time you'll be sharing the road with larger vehicles. Toll roads are common and I think worth the expense for the time & fuel they save. Backups are common if you try to drive toward the coast on Friday afternoon, or back to the central cities after the weekend. And morning commuter traffic can be heavy around the large cities. Motorways/interstates have service plazas with fuel and food. Cities have independent fuel stations too, more toward the outer ring.
Food is great most anywhere, but avoid places overlooking a tourist filled plaza, they have higher prices and lower quality. Eating in Italy is an "experience" and the sooner you accept that and enjoy it, the better your trip will be. Once you sit down, the table is yours for the evening, nobody will push you to get out. They are masters of the Slow Food Movement.
Any place labelled "trattoria" is family-owned and mostly family-staffed. They have a community reputation to maintain so the low cost food is very high in quality; will specialize in comfort foods. May have random hours and few English-speaking staff; menu mainly limited to what's freshly available in the market that day.
If you want a coffee do as the locals and take it at the bar; it's half price compared to table service.
Agritourismo -- agricultural tourisim, like a bed & breakfast but MUCH better; can also be used for just the restaurant. Foods are organic (they call it biological) and by law a certain percentage has to be produced within a narrow radius of the farm. Most will have their own vineyard and olive orchards, as well as a kitchen garden and nearby cheese producers. Combination of local ingredients will surprise you at how well it goes together.
Route: the southern Alps are beautiful but foothill towns will have a decidedly German atmosphere. If in the Alps and the weather turns bad, you can always take a tunnel through to the northern face where it's likely clear weather.
The spine of mountains running northwest from Florence is a phenomenal area and I'd love to ride it. That section and the area around Lake Garda up by the Alps really just call for two wheels.