Scootering is a funny old game, you find yourself in some odd places, with even odder people – yet you’re all strangely familiar and have a common bond. When SLUK were asked to help sponsor this scooter rally in Venice we didn’t plan to actually go out there but it seemed like a great way of seeing Venice whilst also experiencing an Italian rally. Before we knew it we had a gang of around 20 Brits heading off for a city break with something ‘scootery’ to do in the evenings. Perfecto.
None of us had time or the inclination to ride to this event so flights were booked and accommodation sorted for a four-day stay on Venice Lido (a 14km long strip of land opposite Venice itself) where the rally was to be held. Our group of four arrived for 10:30 am on Thursday after an early morning flight from Gatwick and a pleasant boat ride straight from the airport.
What else would four British Scooterists do than find the first bar in town for a quick pasta breakfast and a beer? This early morning tipple turned into a three-mile stagger to our hotel, suitcases dragging behind us, stopping at every bar along the way. We eventually checked in eight hours later more than a little the worse for wear but having had a great day…
Stopover in Zurich
Most of the other Brits were arriving from Luton later, although that trip didn’t quite go to plan. One of the girls was taken ill on the flight, she ended up becoming unconscious and the flight was diverted to Switzerland where she was taken off the plane and straight to the hospital. The remaining Brits were eventually flown to Venice, whilst Emma (who by this time had mysteriously recovered) and Dave spent the night in a hotel before being flown on to Venice the following day (Easyjet were fantastic by all accounts and the steward on board handled the situation brilliantly). Dave still hasn’t recovered from the shock of having to open his wallet in Zurich though, a £1000 experience that he hopes to reclaim on his insurance.
Lost in Venice
Friday was lovely and sunny again so we decided to do the tourist bit and see Venice during the day. Trevor got off the water taxi at one end of Venice to take a quick photo of the rest of us leaving the boat, he thought the rest of us were behind him. We weren’t and the boat had set sail again before he realised, we waved him off though and got off 20 minutes later miles away.
He was lost alone in Venice for a couple of hours with no money. We eventually found him about to throw himself off the Rialto Bridge and took him off for a beer and food away from the main tourist track, right next to the fish market. All was going well until an almighty bang disrupted things, a seagull had lost a huge fish head in mid-air. The bang was the tremendous clash as a kilo of decapitated tuna hit the end of our table from 30ft high, bounced off in a shower of pinkness and ricocheted off the horrified Italian lady on the next table. Mess and fish innards everywhere and girls with clothes stinking like Grimsby docks. Oh, how we laughed…
When in Rome
After lunch, a few of us went to see the sights and ended up taking in a bit of culture in St Mark’s Square. Cocktails right next to the orchestra with fancy nibbles and a lovely ambience. Ok it may have been €25 a drink but we were on holiday and it was Tez’s round!
Later that night we headed up to the rally, set at a stunning location on Pachuka Beach. On an English rally you don’t expect to see a car park full of scooters at the night do, people generally just park up and leave them on the campsite or outside a hotel. Here the car park was full to brimming, with loads of lovely Vespa Rallys, smallframes and Lambrettas to look at. Many Italians don’t seem to have the same excessive drinking habits as British scooter riders (or a blatant disregard for drink drive limits?). Either way, it was strange to us foreigners.
Both types of music available
€20 got you a weekend pass for the SIR – Scooterclub Italiani Riuniti event, plus a goodie bag. It was already pretty busy inside the venue – and outside overlooking the sandy beach where a few stalls were set up and UK band King Hammond were set to fill the floor later (which they did).
I’m not sure if the mosquitoes paid the entrance fee but I never noticed any wearing wristbands, they bit us all to death though. The Italian music policy is mostly ska and soul orientated but the DJ sets were very good and refreshingly different to what we’re used to back home.
Wet, wet, wet
Friday was scorchio but the predicted wetness arrived bright and early on Saturday and set in for the whole day, it bucketed it down. We were 8km’s from the rally site so ended up overtaking the rear of a restaurant and stayed for the whole day before walking up to the do later at night once the worst of the torrential rain had eventually stopped. Certain parts of Venice had flooded during the day and the Italians got to test out their waterproofs for a change.
Moonshine and music
Another great night ensued, loads of trophies were presented in typical Eurovision style, homemade Italian moonshine was swigged from bottles, Scooterists mingled and barriers were broken down. One thing that surprised me during the weekend was just how similar the Italian scooterists (also quite a few German and Austrian Scooterists there) were to us Brits. The scooters are mostly tuned, come in very similar styles to the ones you’ll see Scooterists riding to a UK National (although hardly any overdressed chrome machines, GTS’ or modern retros) and they wear typical Scooterist attire.
We left the do around 2 am and had to walk a couple of miles back to town to get a taxi to our hotel, all the time scooters were thrashing past us and racing around the roundabout, they were also using the straight road leading away from the rally as a makeshift dragstrip, tuned engines being ridden hard, early morning quietness disrupted by the lovely tones of various expansion pipes, two-stroke fumes hanging in the cool night air.
Planes, trains, buses and boats
Sunday for us was another day of sightseeing, the glass blowing island of Murano and the pretty coloured houses of Burano are only a boat ride away from Venice and kept us entertained for the day before a final evening meal back on The Lido and a bus, boat, shuttle, plane and drive home the following morning.
A fantastic memory and laughter filled weekend with a few scooters thrown in for good measure.
Per sempre in strada con noi
The VeneXXIA rally was an important one for Italian Scooterists. Their scene has been suffering from a sense of apathy recently and needed a well-supported large scale event to reignite a few flames. Venice was certainly larger than I expected, around 500 were present over the weekend. The weather would no doubt have put quite a few people off from attending but the SIR were happy with how their 20th-anniversary event went and the general feeling was that it was a turning point for them.
Hopefully, it’ll keep the Scooterist spirit alive and help to increase numbers for them in the future. We certainly enjoyed ourselves and would be happy to go back for more.
The SIR tagline translates to ‘Forever on the road with us’ and lifelong riders will carry on supporting the people who do what’s best for the scene.