To complete a European tour by Vespa in 4 months, the expected length of my journey to discover the continent, I had to consider the seasons and temperatures I would encounter, especially in northern Europe.
In the end, I decided to make the trip counter clockwise, to be able to cross Finland, the Arctic Circle and then cover the entire coast of Norway (from the North Cape to Bergen) in July and August, the months when these roads are still perfectly viable, and the climate is milder.
When describing a journey lasting more than four months, during which I covered 30,000 km and crossed 25 nations, all so beautiful and so different to each other, it is difficult to choose which episode or anecdote to talk about…
Let’s start with the vehicle: to optimise the load on the Vespa I fitted a rear 52-litre top box, a saddle bag and a pair of side bags, all fully waterproof, a feature that, once again, proved to be extremely useful. Lastly, a cargo bag attached to the front rack and two smaller bags on the footrests, for a total full load of almost 330 kg!
The trip had two beginnings, the first from Trieste to Biograd na Moru, to participate in the Vespa World Days, the second at the close of the event, on June 14, when from Biograd, following the coast of Croatia, I crossed Albania and then Greece to reach its capital, Athens.
At this point, I continued north through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Baltic states. Once I reached Lithuania I was joined by my partner Sandra who arrived by plane in Vilnius. We then continued our trip together, crossing Latvia and Estonia. When we arrived in Tallinn we boarded the ferry, with our Vespa, that took us to Helsinki in Finland. Here in Finland everything is far away and when night comes you don’t even notice because at 9 pm the sun is still high in the sky. Puncturing a tyre meant we were able to experience all the friendliness and helpfulness of the Finns. We even met a mechanic who was a Vespa enthusiast like us, and who didn’t even want to be paid.
Once in Sweden, I headed towards Gothenburg where another ferry was waiting for me and my Vespa to take us to Frederikshavn in Denmark.
Following the coasts of the Jutland peninsula I then entered Germany, travelling along the coasts of the North Sea until the end of the Bay of Biscay, I crossed the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain. The last 8,500 Km covered, from Bødø to Spain, were almost all accompanied by bad weather, luckily the waterproof saddlebags mounted on the Vespa made it possible to keep their contents dry. In the pouring rain, I travelled the road that from Oviedo took me to Cabo Ortegal, one of the most extreme points of Europe that I had set out to reach.
Here the state road alternates between areas full of woodland and fog and others bordering the sea. The large bays offer a unique sight, with the low tide they are completely dry and here and there you can see the ropes that tie the boats, lying on their sides, to the pier.
The Cabo Ortegal lighthouse is a modern building standing on a high cliff overlooking the ocean, with huge waves violently crashing at the bottom, and it is famous for collecting percebes, delicious crustaceans that live right there, clinging to the cliffs.
Having admired the lighthouse I set off again, and once I reached La Coruña, Sandra joined me again, by plane, and together we began the journey south, crossing Portugal to return to Spain, more specifically to Cadiz, where our journey eastwards began.
In Malaga Sandra left me again… but not for long! Once I had crossed Spain and France, and reached Ventimiglia, in Italy, our souls were once more reunited and together again we followed the Tyrrhenian, Ionian and Adriatic coast to once more reach Trieste.
Europe by Vespa – the tour’s numbers:
The vehicle: Vespa PX 150, year 2000, with 177cc engine prepared by Pinasco
Kilometres covered: 30,000
Journey time: 126 days