The Famous Five – from scrapyard to Italy: Part 2 | FEATURE
Last week we brought you the first instalment as five Brits headed off to Italy on a fine selection of unreliable motor scooters. You can catch up here if you missed part one. The story continues as they smoke their way through Germany and Switzerland, heading to Lucca for an anniversary party.
Wednesday 11th July, Karlsruhe, Germany to Flums, Switzerland: 197 miles
As promised everyone was up very early, with T downstairs at the back of the hotel encouraging Martin, who was busily doing the maintenance on his Vespa. Tim and Jaws were up in their room watching, with Jaws standing naked at the hotel window laughing, taking pictures, and reminding Martin once more of his flippant comment from the previous Thursday eve at the leaving do.
The Vespa was fixed, and after a lovely breakfast, it was time to hit the road. The route wound out across Germany and into Switzerland, and just when the alpine scenery was becoming awe-inspiring Jaws managed to get himself a free puncture. That’s all the freebies you can expect in Switzerland!
Jaws put one of Timmy’s spare wheels on as it was going to be quicker than mending the puncture. A short while later Martin’s electrics went again, and with Timmy going on to reserve around the same time, it was decided to pull over on the hard shoulder. Martin quickly mended his bike and filled Troll up for Timmy using the trusty green plastic jerrycan he always carries, supervised of course by the “Bugzi-Saurus” teddy.
Riding through the mountains was simply breathtaking and the roads were top quality. While the views may have been stunning, the many tunnels were as scary as hell. Two lanes and no hard shoulder, although the two-way tunnels took the biscuit, and with absolutely nowhere to go in an emergency, everyone was praying not to break down or run out of petrol.
The scooters struggled and spluttered a little due to the altitude affecting the carburation etc. but fortunately there were no more terminal breakdowns, and everyone made it to the next B&B, ready for some well-earned beers, with tea for Timmy.
Thursday 12th July, Flums, Switzerland to Crema via Monza, Italy: 198 miles
There was a definite air of excitement on the morning of day five as the scooters passed from Switzerland into Italy. It wasn’t only the anticipation that was increasing, however, the rise in temperature meant that the scoots needed a little extra time in the inside lane to cool after a 10-mile thrash chasing Jaws in the fast lane. Once again, the roads and views all day long were stunning, and the going was good. Until lo and behold, the Vespa decided to breakdown once more, although this time it was a quick fix, and after a quick bodge (as you do) it was time to head to Monza to fulfil one of Timmy’s dreams.
Once there, all smiling with joy/relief, there was just time for a quick cuppa/beer and a look around, followed by pics in Fangio’s famous car. You couldn’t really see the circuit itself unless you paid. Since Timmy was only going to pay if he could ride his scoot around it, and with him being a squeaky Yorkshireman to boot, he gave it a miss.
After about an hour and a half at Monza, it was heads down, arse up to reach that night’s accommodation in Crema in good time. The hotel had a very cleverly lit underground car park, so taking advantage of this everyone got stuck in for a bit of scooter maintenance. T had finally decided that evening to remove his rear hub and chamfer the brake shoes with some 80 grit sandpaper. He was feeling inspired to get his trusty steed Stax back on the road for the final leg of the outbound journey to Lucca.
With the weather gorgeous, the views stunning, and all four scoots now back on the road, the time had arrived for the last outward-bound leg of the journey, to Lucca. All the bikes were running sweet and we reached Lucca by mid-afternoon without a hitch. And as a surprise bonus, the B&B for the next five days was discovered to have air conditioning.
We all headed off for a nice little ride through the beautiful Italian countryside, where at one point boy racer Martin overtook the whole pack at high speed. It seemed pretty obvious what all the Lambretta riders would be thinking to themselves, especially as Martin had had to get prior permission to come to the Lucca Lambretta 10-year anniversary on a Vespa. Though as it turned out he’d undertaken this cheeky manoeuvre to give himself time to get set in position a mile down the road to video the oncoming mass of Lambrettas driving serenely down the long, picturesque, tree-lined road.
The ice creams are on me
The ride out headed up into the hills, going up gradients that were sometimes almost vertical. Everyone made it eventually and stopped on the side of a mountain to admire the awesome views across to the sea. By pure coincidence, an ice cream truck drove by. Timmy managed to flag him down and get him to reverse up the incline for Jaws to then spend 30 Euros buying everyone an ice cream whilst posing for photos.
Once on the road again the route wound further into the countryside where the Lucca boys had very kindly arranged an evening buffet in a local winery, close to where Alberto lived. Alberto was going to be giving Timmy a genuine Italian LI150 gearbox and selector, so took him on the back of his scooter to pick it up and show him around his impressive workshop with four or five ‘live’ Lambretta projects on the go. He then brought him back for the meal – what a gentleman. Much food and wine were consumed, and the host made everyone very welcome, even keeping Timmy stocked up with Tea.
Saturday 14th July: 10th anniversary ride out in Lucca
Alberto and Paulo turned up at the B&B as planned and all set off to Nicola’s bar for the meet up prior to going on the ride out. However, we were only 100 yards down the road when T’s scoot locked up properly and had to be pushed over the flyover to safety.
Tarby’s day off was cancelled, so she was released from captivity in the van, thus enabling T to get back on two wheels for the ride out. About 50 Lambrettas (and one green Vespa) drove gracefully through the countryside and hills, taking in some beautiful scenery with a few stops along the way for refreshments and a stretch. All credit to the Lucca boys on bikes undertaking marshalling duties, ensuring everyone stayed together and on the route. It was planned with military precision and implemented to perfection!
Mid-afternoon, and in the scorching sun it was time to find shade at a microbrewery out in the sticks for a spot of grub and a well-earned cold brew. Fair play to the Lucca boys, the hog roast was delicious. After a short while it was back to Lucca to all meet up in the old town for coffees/beers and a good old chat.
After a few photo opportunities, the whole group drove in procession to the Amphitheatre in the centre of the town, pretty much stopping all the locals and tourists in their tracks as 50 scooters turned up in the middle of town. Lucca Lambretta Club had booked a restaurant for the evening in the Amphitheatre and gained permission from the necessary authorities for the presence of many, many more Lambrettas that were due to turn up from other parts of Italy, representing their own area clubs. The food, service and ambience were impeccable, making this an absolutely first-class evening. At Martin’s behest, Timmy even tried food he’d never had before and was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was! He was also clever enough to bring a pocket full of tea bags, much to the waiter’s bemusement.
Sunday 15th July
Sunday was a day of rest and ridicule, although Jaws had arranged to meet up with Alberto later in the day to go down to the beach for a swim. Gerry had his own plan for the day and took a push bike he found in the garden of the B&B down to Lucca for a wander around. Everyone did some more scooter maintenance; Tim changed his gearbox for a second time, putting in the one generously donated to the cause by Alberto.
Martin thoroughly washed and cleaned his Vespa, with the help of a very expensive pair of Jaws’s best boxer shorts. Having carefully plucked them off the washing line, the best pair he could find, wiping down every nook and cranny on his scooter, then placing them back on the line to dry, prior to Jaws returning from his swim! T, wine glass in hand, was quality control in the procedure and made sure the Vespa was positively sparkling, all the while assuring Martin that Jaws would never notice the state of his now rather dishevelled pants.
The rest of the day was spent chilled out in the sun, laughing, drinking, and playing silly arses. It would be incomplete to not highlight at this point, the ‘Head of quality control’ getting steadily drunker and drunker throughout the day, finally asking for ‘Mummy’ once Jaws had returned from his swim and plied him with more alcohol. Jaws termed this approach ‘Booze-for-news’; attempting to uncover the story of how his favourite boxers were now baggy and had no elastic in the waist worth the name. Although seeing how he himself ended up, it was a case of “one shot for you, two shots for me!”
Monday 16th July
Nice relaxed day, took the scoots into town, parked up and went for a walk, as Jaws insisted we go to this lovely little sandwich bar as “they do the best sandwiches ever.” He wasn’t far wrong, but his legendary sense of direction then kicked in and it took an hour to find the scoots again. Paulo and Alberto had arranged for a trip to the local scooter shop which was like walking back in time; once through the doors it was like an Aladdin’s cave of all things Vespa and Lambretta.