Day 24 - Modena
Starting point: Livarno
Distance: About 180 kilometers
At 7:00 am, I was back in Toscana. I passed people going to work as I drove towards my next destination. My first stop that day was in Pisa, the place known all over the world for its Leaning Tower and the bell tower of the city's cathedral. As I had bypassed the city on the way to Sicily, this time I chose to visit the famous buildings, specially since Via Aurelia, the road SS1, was leading to within two kilometers of the place. At 8:00 am, I put the Harley on the stand just at the entry to Piazza del Duomo, Cathedral Square also known as Square of Miracles. Watching the sun rising just above the Leaning Tower, I had a nice conversation with a traveling biker couple. The chilling air had forced me to put on all my warm clothes under my jacket. It was confusing knowing that just a week ago, I was constantly exposed to hot weather. I could really feel the temperature change, at least, by fifteen degrees. The temperature, on that day, was dropping and as I drove toward Modena, I had heavy, dark rainy clouds just behind me. I had to stop several times to put more layers of clothes on under the jacket.
I was familiar with driving through the area since, again, I was driving through Province of Lucca. I could recognize the time that passed through the change of fragrance. The herbs were releasing their ripe aromas and the sunflower seeds were waiting for the harvest.
Cold weather forced me to make a break in Abetone, the center of a larger area, a place that offers many ski slopes, hiking trails, picturesque evergreen valleys and medieval villages. A very popular place, especially in Winter.
I was shivering and I could not move my freezing cold fingers. My body had to quickly adjust to the temperature drop. It took me almost two hours to warm up my hands. I ordered three cups of hot chocolate, and two slices of a local pizza with zucchini. I had arrived in town around 10:00 am, too early to get a proper meal.
I was back on the road again around 1:00 pm and, since I was not too far from Modena, it took me less than two hours to arrive to Francesca's house, my next hosting place. The entire flat, and everything surrounded by Francesca had a romantic flavor. I felt like I had entered a sort of store with "decoupage art". Flowers, cats, "French" decorations, crochet table mats with an accent on a white and powder pink colors. In a bathroom, a pile of gently decorated cookie boxes were filled with hand-made jewelry. Everything was extremely clean, despite the two cats at home. Francesca was a beautiful woman with a free, romantic spirit. She invited me and another Polish person, who had arrived at Modena a day before, for a chat over a cup of coffee or tea. Francesca made lunch herself. A plate of rice with tons of garlic (no wonder why she maintained such a perfectly shape body, and we all, while sitting by the kitchen table, were sharing our stories. Francesca was providing a set of advice about the city, what to see, where to eat the best food, where to drink the best coffee. Modena offers many places with good food, including a three-star Michelin restaurant, which is not easy to get into.
Karol, a Polish colleague that I was privileged to meet at Francesca's place, was a talented young musician and we decided to spend the evening together exploring the old city of Modena. Our conversation took a totally different direction. We discussed art, politics, history and culture during our two-hour meeting. I had a young, full of energy, passionate for knowledge and creativity, intelligent person next to me, and I had a challenging, engaging, and compelling evening that day. A bit of arrogance helped him to keep his beliefs vital and despite difficulties, which musicians have to struggle with, he is capable to do something "big". On his face was written that he will make it. I hoped he was right, and he would meet people who would help him to achieve what he desired, and he would not loose the passion on the way to his happiness and success.
My trip was getting closer to its end. I still had four days for travelling, but the remaining distance I would be able to cover in two days. I felt it was time for me to finish the journey. I had done many kilometers, and even though there were still places on my list which I would like to visit, I had a strong need to be at my own place, sleeping in my own room. For sure I would drive through Stelvio Pass, the place I wanted to drive through on my first day of the trip, but the bad weather prevented me from doing so. This time, the weather forecast was warning me that I would have a beautiful sunny weather only for the next two days, and on the third day I would need to drive in heavy rain. Taking that into consideration, I divided the remaining distance into three parts. First part would cover a part of Southern Tirol, German speaking Italy. The second part would have been driving through Stelvio Pass, and the third, and the last one, would have depended on the weather and my physiological condition. Either I would have been traveling over the mountains, taking the most in from the last day of my wonderful journey, or take the fastest connection to my home.