FRANCE 1972

For Easter holidays 1972 I had planned to make a long trip so on March 31 I left with the Ducati 450 Scrambler destination Paris. The plan was to introduce myself to Marcel Muffat‘s home, the nephew of my dear aunt who was on vacation in Pegui, the country where I spent summers when I was a boy. They would have been about 2500 km, I had planned the trip with care, preparing emergency equipment and choosing clothing: blues jeans, high neck white sweater, low boots and brown leather jacket, for the rain I had taken the Kway and ski surplus. I also had a helmet that at that time almost nobody wore, ski glasses and to protect my face a red scarf. At the American market in Livorno I had bought two military bags and had filled them with all my stuff, including a HB stick, my favorite cigarettes. I crossed the Liguria from east to west with the first stop at Borghetto Santo Spirito. On the evening I stopped at Solliès-Pont, a small town near Toulon, where my uncles Luigina and Bruno lived, where I had spent happy vacation periods. I was staying on Easter Sunday and the next morning, after my uncle had given me his precious Michelin map of France, I went to the desired destination by taking the RN7. The day was nice and the temperature pleasant, the rumble of the Silentium made itself felt, the bike was marvelous even if the vibrations were lacking, my thoughts traced the way they did and fantasized about the way to go, at stop to eat baguettes and camembert passed the police and greeted me with a “promenez vous bien!”. Over the last 3/400 kilometers I constantly changed position on the saddle by placing my legs to the left and then to the right, I was tired and I was in a hurry to get there, the more I went north and more I went faster, at the beginning I was traveling at 110 kmh, in the end I made long bets on the 130 kmh. Perfect trip, it was a pity that before the entry into the city broke the changeback spring, at 20.30 I arrived in Paris in front of the Notre Dame cathedral, 821 km.

I introduced myself to Marcel’s home, at 24 Rue de Tanger, in the 19th arrondissement and spent one of the most beautiful weeks of my life, Irene, his mother treated us lovingly and in the evening always prepared us something good to eat, I found out how good the radishes were with the butter dumped in the salt. I had bought a small guide / map Taride that became almost useless because after the first moments of surprise Marcel, Eric his brother and a friend accompanied me to the city, in places that only the Parisians knew. We walked on foot and with the Metro, and went home with our hot feet, sometimes we went out in the evenings, one of which we went to a small movie theater where I saw the “Les temps modernes” by Charlie Chaplin, I was thrilled! I remember so many details of those nice days, I tracked the changeover spring from the Ducati dealer that allowed me to use her gear, so I parked the bike on the sidewalk, I mounted the spring and I did some maintenance. One week had passed fast and I had been really good, but the time available was over, the time came for kisses and hugs, then I took the road back. The itinerary coincided with that of the departing until Dijon, then turned east to the Alps, France was quite beautiful, after about 300 km of plains began the mountains and began to rain. A hundred kilometres in the rain and I came to Morez, in the Jura, I went into an inn trembling from the cold I almost could not speak, drank a hot chocolate and asked for a room. After setting the bike on the back, I climbed into my room and rubbed myself; except the hair repairing from the helmet I was soaked wet, I wiped, I put everything on the heated stove and slipped under the blankets asleep, even though they were just 7.30 pm. The next morning I woke up pimping and ready for new adventures, after a nice breakfast with pain au chocolat and cafè au lait, I splashed oil on the chain that was stretched like the strings of a violin, I turned on the engine and departed,the sun shone and the asphalt with yellow markings, like the car lights, wiped quickly. I crossed the Alps through the Mont Blanc tunnel, inaugurated only a few years before and with emotion I passed the frontier, I was in Italy. Along the way the thoughts in my head were making strange decisions, from a few days I would have taken a step that would radically change my life, I thought of Gloria, that today is my wife. After passing Piedmont, I traced a piece of Liguria and in the afternoon arrived in La Spezia doing the Passo del Bracco, but before going down to town I stopped on the hill of Foce to admire the splendid Golfo dei Poeti, they were about 18, in time to meet friends and tell them about the wonderful journey.

I know Irene is gone and who knows what Marcel and Eric did. I’d love to meet them somewhere!