Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA
For your first time, I'd highly suggest going on a guided tour. I've done a couple (Edelweiss) and have been very pleased. They're easy, take hardly a thought and you never worry about getting lost or missing a cool place to eat or see. You can always stay a few days longer and get some more riding in. Some tour groups allow additional rental days for that purpose. Or of course, arrive a few days early, tool around a bit and meet the group at the designated hotel, etc. And while they don't encourage this, I found myself riding off from the group most of the time, armed with only the day's route and some maps... you'll find most people speak enough English to help out if you get lost. Short of that, simply pointing to where you need to go on the map works wonders as well. Unfortunately, on a group ride, you're only as fast as the slowest rider... this got real old, real quick. Though I was considerably younger than most on my trip and definitely more eager to wick it up. The second trip I went on with Edelweiss (Alps touring center) was guided by an ex GP racer, so needless to say, I didn't need to go off by myself. He kept a VERY spirited pace and we'd pretty much just wait at the end of a pass or road for everyone to catch up... just my luck.
At any rate, it's just my opinion... but this way you take tons of worry out of the whole vacation, get prearranged lodging, food, sights and insurance.
Hope this helps.
"Never enough garage space"
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'14 Ducati Multistrada Gran Turismo
'14 Ducati 899 Panigale