On yer bike, Mike
FOLLOW THE READER
CARRARA, QLD TRIPS with my carefree friend Mike have always been a matter of ‘‘let’s see what happens’’. So we decided to go to the motorcycle races at Mugello, a permanent circuit just north of Florence. Accommodation in the city was all booked, but Mike knew about a ‘‘wonderful hotel’’ across the mountains at Riolo Terme, a spa town he insisted was a two-hour drive. It turned out to take almost twice that time over twisty roads.
Next day I insisted we could not continue driving to and fro on such a dangerous route. He said I would have to find us accommodation closer to the track. I had once stayed at Ronta, behind the race circuit. Mike scoffed. I would have to do the negotiations.
I found the onceimposing hotel, apologised for my poor Italian to the woman in charge, and asked for a room. I recognised the words ‘‘full up’’, but when she realised I was Australian she exclaimed, ‘‘Mick Doohan!’’ She gestured excitedly and told me to wait. She reappeared with two men and waved to their orange Fiat outside. We were to follow the car.
Back in our hired Alfa Romeo, Mike wasn’t happy. Soon the Fiat turned through a set of wrought-iron gates. A gravel driveway led to a beautiful villa; the men waved us in with sweeping bows. We were shown a series of elegant rooms and a folder indicating the tariff was only j20. Breakfast at the Ronta hotel was j18 each. We were also given a hand-drawn map of a shortcut to the Mugello circuit. Mike didn’t talk to me for the next 24 hours, once he’d criticised the cost of the breakfast. Send your 400-word contribution to our Follow the Reader column: travel@ theaustralian. com.au. Published columnists receive a 200ml Sodashi Mint Soother Foot Treatment lotion ($63.60) to cool aching feet and legs; the lotion is perfect for a deeply moisturising overnight treatment. More: sodashi.com.