“First, I’ll pick an area of a country that I want to explore,” says Aaron Atin, summing up his travel philosophy. “I’ll get there without a plan, pull out a map, pick some place that looks interesting and then I’ll just go.”
For Atin, a 34-year-old securities lawyer at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, travel is a chance to be present. He seeks out weeks of uninhibited spontaneity to counter his daily life at work, which is filled with preplanned deadlines.
When Atin goes on vacation, he wants to have an experience that’s the complete opposite of law. And so, when he travelled to Italy for 10 days this past May, he decided to rent a motorcycle and ride it around the country.
Once he landed in Rome, one of the first things Atin did was choose a bike. His pick? A BMW R1200RT, a classic, sport-touring motorcycle known for its comfort. This wasn’t Atin’s first rodeo. He’s been riding for 20 years, so he’d brought all the gear he needed: a rainsuit, leathers made of cowhide (to protect his body in case of an accident), a Bluetooth headset (so he could listen to the radio) and, of course, a good helmet.
Atin had only booked two nights in Rome, so he needed to make a plan. He pulled out the map and decided to ride south to Pompeii, to see the ruins, and then southwest toward the coast.
In Italy, the streets were chaotic — and Atin loved it. “I can’t emphasize enough how amazing those roads were for riding,” he says. “It was a motorcyclist’s dream. I had complete control. I could zip in and out of traffic whenever I wanted and no one would stop me.”
Throughout his stay in Italy, Atin visited Venice, Cinque Terre, Lake Como, Florence and a few random spots on the Amalfi Coast. On arrival at each destination, he’d park the bike and get lost walking around the city. During one stop, in a small village called Ascoli Piceno, Atin found himself mesmerized by an old Italian man who was lingering in front of a monastery as clerics walked in and out. “He didn’t have a care in the world,” he recalls. And, for those 10 days in Italy, neither did Atin.
Thinking of motorcycling through Italy? Here’s what you need to know.
Pick a nimble bike. Atin suggests renting an adventure-touring bike. Many roads in Italy are unpaved or cobblestone, which are tricky to drive over with a sporty bike. Atin says that the safest bet is the BMW R1200GS.
Prepare for the weather. Bring a visor and a rainsuit. You don’t want to be soaked while driving for hours on end. And never ride if there’s snow on the ground, which is often the case from September to June in Italy’s northern regions.
This story is from our Winter 2017 Issue.
Photograph courtesy of Aaron Atin