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My journey first started two years ago with "Coast to Coast with an Italian Supermodel." I never really recovered from that trip. I tried to adapt to a 'normal' life, but I couldn't shake the restless need to keep moving. So I left, and left, and left again. To continue my C2C trip in Europe was my goal, but it would have meant quitting my job. No income while traveling around the world could very easily mean I end up homeless in Poland for the winter. And then I had a hypothesis: what if I just abandoned everything to do what I love? If there's one thing my trip around North America taught me it was the stupid things we do that end up being the decisions we regret the least. But could it work? I have no clue, but I'm going to find out. We shall see if my passions (writing, riding, painting, exploration) are enough to get me around the world.

In any case, “'Round the World with an Italian Supermodel” officially begins.





 

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Here's a little prologue for anyone who missed the first two episodes (Coast to Coast with an Italian Supermodel and PacNW with an Italian Supermodel - both links in my signature below):

In 2012 I hit the starter button on my Panigale and the reset button on my life.



I wanted to test a hypothesis. Rather it was a 'null hypothesis' - I set out to find evidence contrary to what I believed in to test my assumptions about the world. No one likes to be told what to do, where to go, who to like, what to avoid, what to eat, what to laugh at or what to oppose. And definitely no one likes to be told who they are or what they are or are not capable of. Yet every minute of every day we blindly obey the tyrant narrator in our head who dictates the kind of rules and restrictions that limit every aspect of our life. I intended to demolish that voice, to rediscover both the world and myself. So I left. And pretty much did everything that voice said not to do.

At the time I noted it was a suicide of sorts, but in reality it was more of an extermination of the self-imposed restrictions I’d accrued over time. 6 months and 16,000 miles later my life had radically changed. So much so that I simply could not adapt to a ‘normal’ life. So I left again, and again, and again, satisfied only on those days when I didn’t know where I’d be sleeping that night. And one day, during a particularly memorable internal dialogue regarding what I was going to do with my life it hit me: do what I love. So fucking simple! Ride, write, paint and travel. How would I make it work? No idea. I quit my job and, well, here I am, writing today from Rome. This will either be the best decision I’ve ever made or one of the worst.

But, as the past increases and the future recedes, I can honestly say that it’s the reckless and stupid decisions I’ve made that I remember the most. Routine leads to regret, habit leads to unhappiness. Certainty leads to boredom. And fear? Fear kills more dreams than failure. Passion. Passion is the only force that leads to destiny. To live the life we’ve always dreamed of and to become who it is we know we truly are requires acting on desire, taking risks and ferociously (or foolishly) pursuing whatever it is that we love.

To reckless adventures and fearless success.
 

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I have difficulty when trying to answer the question about when this ride report began. Only because from my perspective it really began the first time I threw a leg over a Suzuki RM80 as a kid. It's convenient to begin with the first day of the journey. But I have bad news for anyone who's not gone big with a long, extended road trip: shit begins way, way before the key goes into the ignition.

Anyone reading this--or any other ride report does themselves a great disservice to think that what someone taking off on an open-ended trip is the result of luck or fortune. When you see the first pic of 'setting off', you’re seeing the end result of what could have been years of construction and planning. I don't meant the kind of planning that begins with google maps or Trip Advisor or NatGeo Travel magazines. I mean sorting your life out so it can happen. Before C2C, I spent years detaching myself from anything and everything. So that when the final detach happened, I was ready to roll.

This trip was not so easy. Though I'd made the decision to fly the bike to Europe to continue my ride, my ride did not cooperate. A perplexing high-idle issue that reset itself every time I went into the dealer couldn't be fixed. Before anyone goes nuts and starts firing arrows at Ducati, keep in mind that my bike was the highest mileage Panigale in existence. It also saw 10 hard track days, monsoon rains, sand, dirt roads. She slept in 30 degree weather, endured Hurricane Sandy and not once ever failed to start. In an effort to identify what was causing the high Idle, Ducati replaced all the major components. The good news--nothing was wrong with any of 'em after all my abuse. The bad news: the issue was still there. I was running out of time. I had two choices: wait for a fix or get a new bike.

I went with the latter, which also gave me a worldwide (and unlimited mileage) warranty. Ducati Newport Beach, whom I purchased my original bike back off of, gave me a great deal (Thanks, Aaron, Chris, Mark, Brandon, Adrian and all the rest of the staff who had a part of helping get me on my way!).

Though I made it to Milan just fine, a US Customs Delay meant I'd be showing up to World Ducati Week at Misano in a rented Audi. Can't really complain--World Ducati Week is kind of like holy week for Ducatisti.

With that said, a few pics are below. Full album is here: World Ducati Week - antihero















 

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This was pretty funny. I took a pic of this guy on a Hyper that was set up to drift and not fall over and instagrammed it with the caption, "Looks like he's having trouble keeping it up." Within just a few minutes someone who knew the guy instagrammed it TO the guy in the photo. Comedy ensued. Small world.



I also got a ride around the track in a Huracan:


Got to meet this legendary Ducati rider:


Oh and this guy, too:


Never know who you'll run into at WDW!

Or what:




More Photos Here: World Ducati Week - antihero



 

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Hey Ray! Hope all is well my man!

Oh yes--on the last day of Ducati Week I got to see the Scrambler, too:



It was hidden in the bottom storage container. Ducati was taking people through 8 at a time after confiscating phones and cameras, but the head of US Marketing sneaked us in through the back in-between visits. I have to say that I wanted one just looking at it. It fills a spot in a virtually non-existent niche. Something that's fun, doesn't take itself too seriously, and something that's versatile. Ah yes--and cool, too. Adolescent without being unrefined I think hits the nail on the head. A swiss army knife. We shall see....but when I saw it visions of South America and Kazakstan flickered through my head.

I got a picture of it (with permission, but only with the cover on).



A few days later a picture leaked to Asphalt and Rubber. And no it wasn't me. Still pre-production, so the details were rather unfinished, but overall, a pretty cool concept that's going into production.



When it comes out, though, I'm guessing I'll do a cost comparison of Scrambler vs. building a TerraCorsa....

 

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Since I was in the area and had some free time, I drove out to San Marino, which is, according to Apple GPS, a completely separate country. According to Wiki, it's also the oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world. Not that you'd know unless you were reading Wikipedia, as it has the same not-quite-first-world way of doing things that don't appear any different than Italy's way of doing things.

But it has a cool fortress that made me wished I brought a crossbow.





This is the stuff of visions of Italy. Real-life Robin Hood shit. As a kid I just wanted to merely put my hand on such a structure to verify that it--and the past history of damsels in distress, poisoned kings and noble battles were, in fact, real. But to actually visit a structure was more akin to traveling 1000 years back in time. It's the kind of experience that makes me want to scrape my knuckles across the surface just to remind myself how real it is.



I stood in the top of that tower, alone, peering for miles over the valleys and ridges and fields and trees imagining all the hundreds and thousands of people who had done the same before me for ten centuries. Ten centuries! And I was there, as last witness standing atop the castle. I'll never forget it. There are rare moments in life when we experience something that expands consciousness into regions we've only previously imagined. This was one of them.










Stunning, just stunning.
 

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Yeah man...goosebumps. "Subscribed" is all I can do.

Ride on...and on!


Question: Do you ever long for a more "Adventure" type bike?
 

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Question: Do you ever long for a more "Adventure" type bike?
Nope. Never. I would like a dirtbike for tearing up trails and a box of unlimited storage that didn't take up any space on the back of the bike, but for me the sun rises and sets on the 1199. Every time I turn the key, twist the throttle, snikt into the next gear or push into a sweeper I'm rewarded with the otherworldly responses from the right bike for this adventure. Absolutely love it.
 

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One of the things I enjoy most about traveling is becoming an inhabitant. I hate hotels and I don't ever just want to see the sunny side of a city. I want to see the best and worst (and a lot of the average stuff) that it has to offer. One requirement (other than staying as long as possible) is holding these in my hand:



Keys. My first apt. in Milan was relatively cheap and in a very unromantic part of town.



The first thing you notice about Milan is the graffiti--or rather--the tags.



I thought LA was bad, but 6 vertical feet of the entire city is covered in it. It's what would happen if you taught feral cats how to spell their names AND pee spraypaint. I'm all for graffiti art, but scrawling your name everywhere in your own neighborhood is equivalent to shitting in your pasta bowl. I guess people like the look of their own shit and love even more the taste of it every day.





There were those who knew what they were doing, though:



I was sick. Really sick. Conscious fever dreams during the day and during the night, waking up soaked in sweat. At one point I went to the balcony. I was on the 8th floor if you recall. No, never thought of jumping, but at some point the view turned against me.



That's what the view looked like in 'reality', but to my fevered brain it was a predator waiting to be shot.



Aegri somnia, a sick man's dreams. I'll get into the details later, but this journey for me was to do the things I love, to follow my 'passion', which is more akin to obeying the demands of a corrupt nervous system, but none-the-less, the painting captured a very particular and unfortunate moment right at the beginning.
 

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Those early days in Milan had me not leaving my apt. but for a handful of times--and for only short durations. Fever was just too much. I was on antibiotics, but they were taking their sweet time. I hit up Dr. R (the one and only, from C2C) said to get Augmentin as soon as possible, what I had was basically useless and infections that spread the way mine was spreading can easily get to your heart or brain. You'd never think a tooth could kill, but I won't be postponing any Dental appointments from now on. A friend from SF with a sis living in Milan got me into a Dentist (Dr. Petrelli), who turned out to be an incredibly wonderful doctor with a wonderful staff. Unfortunately they spoke as much English as I spoke Italian, but even without language rather complicated communication is possible. He didn't even charge me for the exam or X-Ray.





After a visit to the Farmacia, I had what I needed:


I was out of immediate danger at least and ticked the "emergency visit to a doc in a foreign country" box.
 

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For those who want to see lots of great food pics, I went about the cliffs-notes-version of culinary delight that entire first week. Everything I ate looked like this:



Not kidding. I ate tuna, bread, and fruit morning, noon and night. Around the third day I got some salami and chips. And it was damn good, I might add. A little pepper and olive oil go a long way.
 

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Delays with my bike in US customs stretched from days to weeks, requiring me checking into my third (and fortunately last) place in Milan.



Cool place, too. Was at one time some sort of storage shed that was turned into a loft apt.





The best part? Milan skies poured down rain every night while cracks of lightning hit so close I could hear the after-fizzles of electricity right after the initial crack. (We're talking zero seconds between light and sound.)

I was in the Navigli neighborhood, which was undeniably the best location in Milan as far as I was concerned.









 

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It's difficult to maneuver around Milan without accidentally seeing the Duomo:



It's huge--and looks so heavy that I expected at any moment the ground to crack and swallow it whole.

I went inside and saw that it was 10 Euros to get in. Fuck that. I leaned over a partition and started snapping shots until one of the staff members kicked me out.



What I wanted to see was on top. On the side of the building there's a small entrance where they let you walk up to the roof. They charged for that, too, but that was an expense I thought had some legitimacy to it.



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