A fascinating visit to a historic ceramic factory on the Amalfi Coast

Vietri sul Mare is perhaps the most famous town for ceramic tiles in the Naples area of Campania, perhaps one of the most famous in Italy. But the surrounding area, not just the town, still manufacture tiles and other ceramics using the traditional methods.

I went recently with Daniela to a local ceramic factory in Cava to choose the new tiles for their next hotel room restoration. The factory is a truly amazing place where the tile decorations are made totally by hand. The Aurora Hotel in Amalfi was built in 1959 using these tiles in every room, with different patterns and colours in each bedroom, and this is one way that the hotel continue to support the local economy, to keep their traditions alive and to offer their guests a real taste of traditional Amalfi Coast life.

Feast your eyes on this amazing factory, the workers and the products. Amazing.

Call or text or whatsapp me on +39 333 8153190 or email me on simon.f@spirometry.com.



What a wonderful journey, and what a bike!!

Well in theory I was visiting the UK in August (2016) to see my beloved mother and sister. But I spent more time with Martin Cole (pictured above when my bank transfer arrived!) in his wonderful Midland motorcycle dealership (www.alfengland.co.uk) than I did with my family. And well I left the dealership with an almost-new Yamaha MT10 and rode home to Roma.

The weather in the UK was wonderful all week ,warm and sunny, how unusual!!!. So I looked carefully at all of the new and used bikes in stock (Martin sells Yamaha and Suzuki new and almost everything second hand) and I was very tempted by the Honda Fireblade and by the Kawasaki ZZR1400. But then cunning Martin suggested a test ride on the lovely blue Yamaha MT 10 demo bike. Within the first five kms I decided that this was the bike for me!!. Goodness. Unlike cars, a bike is really a “heart” purchase and depends on how you like the “feel” of a bike. This feel is a combination of the power, speed and handling of course but is really much more than that. You cannot get a feel for a bike unless you ride it and the sad irony is that not many dealers will lend bikes to potential customers, given that they cost up to 20k pounds these days and of course can fall over……or worse.

The MT10 is a new Yamaha launched 6 months ago and is powered by the 1000cc engine from the R1 suitably detuned for this naked or “street fighter” concept. The gearing is also shorter, the riding position more upright and the only extras I had fitted to mine are the small windscreen plus the comfort seat. Nigel and the boys got her ready and tweaked the suspension settings for me too. So I was ready!

One of my greatest rides ever, details follow:

  • Day 1, Friday the 2nd September. 136km. I fitted my Givi bag onto the back seat (again with help from Nigel, Chuck, Darrel and young Ashley, they really are THE BEST) and headed off towards Cambridge. I took it very easy for the first miles as I had to get used to this brand new feeling. I have had several R1s in the past but not with this new cross plane engine (so called “big bang”), so I really did not know what to expect. Suffice to say that it is breathtaking. Indeed in a recent article in the UK magazine Performance Bikes (see http://www.performancebikes.co.uk/magazine-issues/september-2016) a former racer Tony Rutter suggested that 90% of normal riders could go faster on the MT10 (160 bhp) round the track than on the R1 (200 bhp) as the MT10 is much easier to ride and less intimidating. Amazing. Despite the A14, I was soon in Cambridge to visit Mother.


  • Day 2, Saturday. 497km. Following a lovely lunch with Don and his curious mate George (pictured)
George has become a member of the family……but that’s another story

it was time to leave. I donned my waterproofs as there was some drizzle in the air and I headed off down the M11 towards London. The traffic on the M11 and M25 was ok and the rain stopped but then the M20 was closed so I had to follow a detour down the M23 to get to the Chunnel, but I got on the train very quickly at about 1630. This was a first experience for me and quite expensive (as I bought an open ticket) but fast and efficient. The bike was not strapped down but stayed quite steady during the 35 minute crossing.

The MT10 takes a brief rest on the Chunnel before heading south.
  • Then from  Calais I headed south down the excellent motorways towards Reims, famous for its lovely cathedral, as I was thinking about possible routes south and I had already stayed in Reims so it seemed like a good stopover. I hate planning as I have always been obliged to plan my trips for work so when I travel for pleasure I really enjoy taking each day as it comes. And for me the bike is all about freedom. The journey was uneventful and I found the Ibis Hotel at about 7pm with the help of Tom Tom of course, and the bike performed faultlessly. Fast, with a stop every 200km to refuel with 14litres. Great fun.


  • Day 3. Reims to Bologna. 974km. I was up at 5.30 and left the hotel at 6.00, still dark and damp so with waterproof trousers on again! Weather was cool and damp but the rain was very light and soon stopped as I headed south again. Luckily the bike and Tommy took care of everything and I just had to hang on and watch the stunning scenery. And this bike even has cruise control!!! The French motorways are fantastic and I discovered that unlike the rip-off Italian motorways which charge a bike the same fees as a car, in France the bike pays MUCH less so given that the route through France and Switzerland was several hundred kilometres less than going through Germany and Austria, I decided to stick with France. I developed a routine. I reset trip 1 at every fuel stop. The bike runs to reserve at 13litres so that gave me 200km of autonomy and then the remaining 4 litres gave me a 60km breathing space so I stopped about every 200km to fill up, and then either a coffee or water or whatever.This amazing sports bike even has cruise control which proved very relaxing as well as great fun so the almost 1000km that day were really not so tiring but as I reached Bologna I was feeling a bit weary so I found a great place to stop for the night.
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    Lovely hotel.

    This wonderful hotel and restaurant gave me a lovely room for just 57 Euro and the food in their restaurant was stunning too. Early bed for me.

  • Lovely comfy bed
    Good night!!

Day 4. Bologna to the office in Roma. 370km. I got out of the hotel and onto the bike at about 6am and following breakfast, 2 fuel stops and a very uneventful journey I was in the office in Roma by about 10am. The new motorway around Florence is truly amazing and wonderful fun, I took the scenic route and with very light traffic it was great fun and soooo smooth. The MT10 performed faultlessly, as fast as anything on the road and it handles like a race bike. And all this at an average of 15km per litre is a truly amazing package. Stunning. Thanks Yamaha and thanks to Martin and the gang!!

Call or text or whatsapp me on +39 333 8153190 or email me on simon.f@spirometry.com.


Now she is happily tucked up next to her sister Super Ten!!

The ONLY sensible ways to travel around the Amalfi coast area……….

As a sort-of local (I have lived part time in central Amalfi now for 4 years) I travel here from Roma all year round and I really love to explore the local area. The locals out of season are very open and friendly (there are about 3,000 inhabitants) but during the summer peak season the population grows to over 30,000!! So of course nobody really has time to talk to you.

I generally use my motorbike and/or car or van to travel to Amalfi but in the summer I use either the motorbike or public transport as there is nowhere to park a car. Car parking is a major problem as the town’s 2 car parks fill up very early  and cost 30 Euro per car per day, and then visitors cannot stay as the fines for incorrect parking are terrible!!. Around 150 Euro tow fee plus 30 Euro fine.

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So during the peak season which is June to September you should use the EXCELLENT public transport. The main two are SITA buses (http://www.sitasudtrasporti.it/) and Alicost ferries (http://www.alicost.it/). Both work very well indeed and hey, let the bus and or the ferry take the strain and lean back and watch the scenery!!!

Call or text or whatsapp me on +39 333 8153190 or email me on simon.f@spirometry.com.

The woods around Amalfi are well worth exploring….walking, mountain bike, motorbike or quad, beautiful scenery

Of course the Amalfi coast is world famous and draws visitors from everywhere. But did you know that the mountains above Amalfi rise up to more than 1,000 metres?? Nor did I until recently. Look at the following pics to get an idea. I spent a whole day exploring and met only 3 people, 2 on horseback and 1 on a mountain bike.

Clean air, no traffic, beautiful countryside, beautiful views. Stunning.

Call or text or whatsapp me on +39 333 8153190 or email me on simon.f@spirometry.com.

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What an amazing area to explore….

Wow the Amalfi area is even more stunning and suprising than I thought. This area really offers FAR more than first meets the eye of the casual visitor.

Of course the coastal towns are stunning and they are all very well known and documented. Ravello, Amalfi, Positano and Sorrento for instance are all very special and truly amazing places to visit, each has her own specialities whereas of course the fresh fish and the lemon products are common to them all. See Wikipedia for all the history and details you need.

But who knows Atrani?? Conca dei Marini, Vettica and Praino?? All of these small towns are on the Amalfi coast and all are really worth a visit and as they are not so well known they generally cost much less then the “Big Four”.

And then if you travel inland only a few kilometres from Amalfi you can find Scala, Pontone, Sambuco, Pimonte and many many more small towns, and most of these are way way higher then Amalfi so they are fairly cool even in August!!

And this is just the start because over the last couple of weeks I have been exploring the area both on and off road with my Yamaha Quad (Raptor 700R) and there are some truly beautiful area to explore off road too so some pictures will be uploaded very shortly.

Call or text or whatsapp me on +39 333 8153190 or email me on simon.f@spirometry.com.

Stunning views all round……

WHAT fun and what a great place to discover!