Travel books

Where the World Ends

By vespa along the Ruta 40

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Title: Dove il mondo finisce
(Where the World Ends)
Author: Lorenzo Franchini
Year of publication: June 2019
Publisher: Alpine Studio
Necklace: Orizzonti (Horizons)
Language: Italian
Pages: 374
Images: a selection in black-and-white + route map
Price: €16.80

It has all the ingredients to captivate motorcycle enthusiasts!

This is the story about a group of Vespa riders of different ages, origins and walks of life, as they cross Patagonia to reach Tierra del Fuego along the world-famous Ruta 40.

This is a recent book, telling the tale of a two-wheeled adventure that could be considered vintage, given that it took place in 2005, a time when people travelled without the support of social media.
In reality, however, the subject of our review is the new edition of WHERE THE WORLD ENDS, which has returned to the bookshelves of Alpine Studio after 10 years. The publishing house, which specialises in travel narration, has revised the book to make it an even more enjoyable read, as well as refreshing the visual materials.
We are used to reading about solo motorcycle (and scooter) adventures, sometimes about couples, but rarely the stories of groups. Here, the tale is of a journey made by 23 intrepid travellers, each in the seat of their own VESPA PX with 2T engine, with different displacements and versions represented (from ’81 onwards).
It took an entire year of preparation to get such a large number of people and vehicles to the other side of the world, and author Lorenzo Franchini dedicates around one hundred pages to this undertaking.
As a result, it’s fair to say that the adventure began long before a single wheel touched the roads of Argentina. The first step was transporting the 23 Vespas across the Atlantic via a cargo vessel, packed tightly into an old shipping container bought cheaply by the travellers and set up ad hoc for this purpose.
The real challenge of this journey is Ruta 40, the longest and most spectacular road in Argentina, which runs parallel to the Andes mountain range in one of the most isolated regions of the world. One reason for its fame is the unpredictability of the weather and, as described in the book, the constant strong wind that bears down on the Vespas, forcing riders to grip tightly to the handlebars. Above all, however, the route became known for its extraordinary dirt surface. Today the “Cuarenta”, as it is known, has been almost completely paved and has lost some of its charm, but in 2005, Lorenzo Franchini and his companions covered a stretch of around 1,600 km still in its original conditions: an exceptional challenge for bikes with 10” wheels.
Another aspect which comes to the fore in this book is the spirit of solidarity and altruism that can always be found in the motorcycling/scooter community. For example: the Buenos Aires Vespa club, contacted from Italy via the web, which provided real assistance by offering to host the base camp of the Italian scooterists at a small tourist airport on the outskirts of the Argentinian capital.
WHERE THE WORLD ENDS will give Vespa-lovers — and others — something to dream about, evoking the sense of transience and liberty typical of being “on the road”. The book features uplifting moments as well as twists and turns, with unexpected events — some quite dramatic (two accidents occurred along the way) — narrated from a multitude of perspectives, representing participants’ different points of view: stumbling in the sand, makeshift campsites, pasta dishes eaten on the roadside along a “magical” route with an infinite sky, leading the group to Ushuaia, the southernmost point of the South American continent.