I have a confession to make. I have never been on a bike. Shock! And horror! I know!!
So, why did I get in the car last Sunday and let myself be driven all the way to Verona to spend a whole day at the huge Motor Bike Expo held there, you may (with reason!) ask.
Well, I have never been on a bike, but I have always admired bikes from afar. Just like this one. It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?!
Plus, my husband used to ride bikes before we met and I am often regaled with stories of his beloved Harley and Yamaha, both of which got stolen while he lived in South London. As such, when I told him that every year in January Verona holds a three-day motorbike fair of gigantic proportions which attracts over 150 thousand visitors, he went ahead and bought us tickets, and… I tagged along.
In all honesty, in the days prior to the show, I was a bit apprehensive. Being the least cool person you can imagine, I spent a long time wondering if I would feel right at a place which, according to its website, promised to be the epitome of cool. Add to this the fact that when I was growing up, riding a bike was the coolest thing to do and I was never popular enough to actually know anyone with a bike (or if I did, they would have never given me a ride), so I had my deep inner doubts if it was a good idea for me to make the trek to the Motor Bike Expo after all.
Still, as my husband has always been so supportive of my interests and has kindly come along with me to a myriad of tiny, obscure towns and places which I have wanted to see, this time I felt I had to do the right thing and go with him.
Just to give you an example of how great he is! Once, he had a half day free from work and instead of relaxing, first he bought and installed a new washing machine (as I had broken the old one) and then he agreed to come with me to this small mediaevil town which I desperately wanted to visit because I had heard that it is the place to go and buy the best Italian nougat (yep, totally a valid reason to travel for 45 minutes one way).
We got there bang in the middle of Italian riposo (when everything shuts for three hours or so) and the town (although beautiful) was in deep slumber with absolutely no-one on the streets. All nougat shops were shut and after much walking around, we managed to locate one small cafe which was open. We had a quick lunch and then we drove home.
And if your husband doesn’t hold such a waste of a journey against you and keeps driving you everywhere you want to go, how can you say no to a motorbike expo even though you may think that you are not cool enough for it?! My thoughts exactly!
So, early on Sunday morning, we piled in our little red car and off we went to Verona.
As we neared the exit off the motorway, the traffic got really sticky and thick and desperately slow queues had formed by the toll booths. It looked like the expo was pulling in huge crowds. We joined the sea of vehicles and once we had paid our toll fee, we followed the road to Veronafiere (a huge exhibition space comprised of several buildings with cavernous halls) and parked in one of the nearby big parking lots. It cost 10 euros for the day and it was a short walk away from the expo’s gates.
At 10 am there was already an enormous queue – a thick mass of people waiting for their turn to purchase a ticket and get in. I have to say, I hate it when they charge you a booking fee when you buy your tickets in advance online, but in this case it was more than justified. I was so happy that we had our tickets in hand and could simply bypass the queue.
We were in!
Where we suddenly realised how incredibly big the whole event was. Seven halls had been taken over by motorbikes and everything related to the motorbiking culture. The open-air areas between the halls hosted the racing events and the stunt competition plus many food stalls. There were workshops being held, meet-and-greets with stars of the motorbiking world (OCC, anyone?!) were in full swing, specialist clothing and accessories shops had been set up and, above all, everywhere you looked, there were motorbikes.
Vintage and new, exclusively customised, hand-painted and decorated, made of wood, metals and cosmic new materials, with traditional shapes and designs like straight from a high-tech future. There were motorbikes left, right and centre. Each one more amazing and glorious than the preceding one. For prices from several thousands to a quarter of a million euros (for a vintage Vespa, no less!).
My husband was like a kid in a sweetshop.
As for me, well, I suddenly realised that this was not some exclusive cool club. People from all ages and walks of life were having a grand time. There were parents with their children from babies to teenagers. There were bikers of all sizes with bushy beards or smooth faces. There were artists customising gear and painting on leather jackets.
Members of motorbike clubs from all over Italy and further afar were walking around dressed in their club attire. Gorgeous girls with the longest ever limbs staffed the exhibitor booths and were nonchalantly leaning against or sitting on fabulous bikes.
Photographers with lenses the length of my arm were fleeting in and out of the press club snapping the action as it happened.
There was even a barber shop set up for bikers to have a trim on the go.
And as part of the stunt competition riders put little Vespas (as it is Italy after all) through their paces, making them dance and twirl for the crowd’s delight.
It was a great show!
The time just flew by and on the way out I was really surprised that we managed to spend there six hours without a moment of feeling bored.
If you are into motorbikes or if you want to see Italy from a completely different point of view (past the museums and the ancient art), make sure you come to Verona for the next edition of its Motor Bike Expo. It takes place in January every year. Make sure that you get a ticket online in advance so as not to have to wait at the door on the day.
There are lots of food stalls, so you can easily spend the whole day there. The halls were heated and, even though there were lots of people, there was no pushing and shoving even in the most crowded areas.
It is a great place to bring your children, too. The races and the stunts were fab to watch. Our little daughter also really enjoyed being able to try the Indian motorbikes for size. Just be aware that some of the exhibitors didn’t allow people to sit on their bikes. The stand of Indian was awesome, though, as you could get on each one of the company’s amazing bikes.
If your child gets tired, there are several food tents, where you can take a rest. Also, there are some areas with benches which are quieter and people would sit there to relax a bit. We were very lucky, as we sat next to a lovely Italian family whose little daughter shared her felt-tip pens and colouring sheets with our child.
It was definitely a great day out for us and an opportunity to experience a different side of Italy. Apparently, Italian Bike Week is to take place at the end of May in Lignano, which is quite close to our current hometown of Vicenza. I am already wondering if we could go for a day to have a look.
Find more information about Verona Motor Bike Expo on its website.
If you liked what you read, please, leave me a comment or use the buttons below to share it on social media.