Ligurian Riviera, Italy, 7-9 days
The breeze blowing in across the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean is gentle, but just enough to soften the hair-dryer heat of the Italian summer. Tyres grip scalding tarmac, behind my dark visor my eyes are pinned to the vanishing point and another corner is demolished, only for another to appear as the road snakes its way along the base of a cliff.
This is the Ligurian Riviera – less crowded and less pricy than the French Riviera, but only just. I find plenty of quiet stretches down here by the sea, but they’re short. Pulling into Noli, another picture-postcard fishing village, I catch up with a coach trailing a streamer of tourist cars – so I decide to head inland instead.
Now this is epic riding. The hills are steep, the corners tight, the cooling breeze a little stronger as it stirs the trees shading the road. I loop round, drop down to the coast, then climb again. I keep waiting for my luck to run out, for the next turn to take me onto a bad road… but it doesn’t happen. OK, not all the surfaces are great, but there are many worse back roads at home and none of them has these views, the bends or the beautiful heat. And the bigger roads are simply brilliant.
As a touring destination, with great seaside hotels and amazing restaurants, Liguria looks good on paper anyway. But when you get down here and discover the roads, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been here before.