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on Jan. 17, 2013 :
I highly recommend this eBook, especially those who are considering taking a road trip through Italy.
Not only will the guide help you with your routing ideas and places to stop in but it also gives you an insight into what the road and traffic is actually like over there.
It is very well written; clear, flowing and entertaining to read.
(review of free book)
on Nov. 24, 2011 :
"In Italy, everyone has a Vespa story," travel writer extraordinaire Peter Moore declares in this sumptuous slice of "la dolce vita," The 40-Year-Old Vespa Virgin, an abridged version of his well-received novel Vroom With a View. Pay no attention to the length of time between my adding this wonderful travel memoir to my e-library. I have a habit of picking up one book -- digital or deadwood -- and setting it aside to read another, or to resume writing a piece of my own.
Never mind my annoying mental blocks. I spent the first hour of Thanksgiving Day with this awesome Aussie writer's feast for all five senses. I was both enchanted and enthralled by this tale-on-two-wheels in which Moore's first vespa -- named after Sophia Loren seemingly for her voluptuous proportions as much as for innocently cultural reasons -- is the main character.
All his smoking-bod metaphors aside, it's so breathtaking to find the author taking a backseat on his maiden voyage from Milan to Rome. Cruising with the curious Moore, the reader too can rev up for the scenic journey, feel wildflower-scented breezes dance through her hair, and slip into black-and-white hipness (while donning Felliniesque shades) whenever the "molto" Tuscan sun beams on the "Sophia"'s ample chrome bosom.
No cool shades are required, though, to mount a time machine as cine-sexy as a 40-year-old Vespa. Neither does one need to be experiencing the nether pangs of a midlife crisis. The only requisites are a genuine interest in various Italian cultures and customs, an intrinsic desire to meet and learn from people who live where you're traveling, and, oh yes, a driver's license.
This is no lame tour guide; it's a fascinating, romantic memoir. Rolling pastoral hills and winding urban road enrapture us vicarious motorbike passengers like an unspooling ribbon of Italian flowing into the flushed ear of a lover. Along the lakeside, mountainside and pine-cone-strewn routes that unfold beneath a changing sky, we behold glimpses of Ernest Hemingway.
Like Hemingway but with humor evocative of a Peter Mayle memoir, Moore creates cork-popping magic in his realistic atmospheric detail, vivid villagers' portraits, engaging introspection and culinary accents -- the latter via the locals' dialects. He conveys in an effervescent way his childlike wonder in spying an ancient Italian cathedral or tasting slivers of Parma ham.
As a virginal rider of a vintage Vespa, Moore is granted easy entry that's denied to tourists arriving in town by other means. His mobile experiences in Italy transcend mere entitlement -- well, if you can get past the down-to-earth issue of the author affording the luxuries of time and liquidity, because a credit card would be useless in many off-the-beaten-path locales. By embracing a vehicle fueled with equal parts nostalgia and earthbound necessity, Moore takes soul-guided detours and touches the hearts of people he encounters. And it's quite telling that, for a motorcycle journey that would take a destination-focused tourist more than a week to complete, Moore and Sophia travel for three eventful months!
I highly recommend reading Peter Moore's tale of "The 40-Year-Old Vespa Virgin." There are infinite kilometers of missteps and wisdom in his memoir that apply to life beyond travel. Of course, for those of you planning cycling trips within Italy, and who do not have relatives or close friends that can show you the ropes (or chains), this breezy read is indispensable.
Pardon my skidmarks as I seek out Moore's Vroom With a View (Random House) for the unabridged version of his Italian journey.
(review of free book)