Service no limits!

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Service no limits

I am Simon, I am English and I live between Roma and Amalfi in Italy. I have lived in Italy since 1990 and I speak reasonable Italian and French, plus some English!!

I love travelling and exploring, I have worked in Export Sales for more than 30 years which has taken me all over the world, and I like nothing better than travelling around Italy and Europe by car, van or motorbike alone or with friends.

I know Italy fairly well and I love to help others to discover the beauty of Italy and to avoid the many pitfalls. Many visitors love Italy but do not really know how to avoid the difficult bits, as the language and the mentality is very different from the American and North European “norms”.

I also have a small fleet of vehicles that I can rent out to the right people or can use to transport you around. You fly into Roma and wanna get to the Amalfi Coast?? I can take you. You need to transport you and/or your luggage around between hotels? Call me. You wanna try a motorcycle experience?? I can supply a touring bike with a satnav in English all ready to go. You wanna visit the Ducati or Ferrari factory?? No problem. You need a route for a 3 day visit to Sicily or Sardinia? I can supply it.

Here follow some blogs to give you a taste of the Italian experience. Thanks!!

New property comes closer

We have found and made an offer on a new property, as threatened!! This small property is fantastic and is perfect for what we need, a small working base in the Amalfi area. The property is a WONDERFUL double garage and is very recent indeed, it looks virtually new, and has all of the permissions and stuff in order too which is very unusual, so it can be used for storage, as a garage, for working or whatever. It has a small bathroom too plus water and electricity.

The location is almost ideal too as it is only 12km (about 15 minutes) from the centre of Amalfi and is in a small residential area with houses on each side. Photos and stuff to follow if our offer is accepted!!!!

Stop press: We have revisited the property today and it would appear that all is in order and we can go ahead. We aim to conclude at about the end of March. Watch this space.

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Used spare parts for cars and scooters

Given that cars (and bikes) become ever more expensive and complex, and the spares follow, we see a fiendish idea to start a potentially-interesting business with used and regenerated spare parts. We therefore intend to purchase some cars and some scooters and strip them for spares, indeed we have already acquired a Honda SH125, the best selling scooter in Italy. The market for used spares is an interesting one and traditionally mainly in the hands of not totally honest suppiers. We want to start an honest business with spares and repairs, we already have a Roma base and we are now seeking another in the Amalfi region so that we can operate in both areas.

Photos to follow of our SH125 and then the cars too, as we start operations so watch this space.

 

New enterprise!! Another arrow to our bow (or something)

Services enters one (or even two) new activities. We have purchased a lightly damaged VW van and we have started work on the strip down and on the repairs. We intend to document this work with a series of photos which will follow. This work will be carried out by a specialist who does this for a living and the idea is of course to return some profit when we sell the van, but along the way I hope to learn alot as this is a totally new field for me and very interesting indeed.

The second idea is also to start an interesting sub-business with spare parts. We intend to purchase some (VW) cars and some (Honda) scooters and strip them for spares, indeed we have already acquired a Honda SH125, the best selling scooter in Italy. The market for spares is an interesting one and possibly mainly in the hands of er not totally honest sellers. We want to start an (honest) business with spares and repairs, we already have a Roma base and we are now seeking another in the Amalfi region so that we can operate in both areas.

Watch this space!! More to come soon.

A week takeover of the lovely Aurora Hotel, Amalfi. October 20-27th 2018

Ok so here is the master plan for the hotel so far:

  1. I have asked her indoors if I can book the whole hotel PLUS the 3 apartments for the whole week, and (so far so good) she said yes. Poor woman. This event is by personal invitation only and is NOT open to the general public BUT we do plan to run similar events in the future.
  2. I therefore have 15 rooms in the hotel to host my “guests”, plus the 3 apartments if required.
  3. My idea is to offer the lucky chosen few an “all-in package price” for the week to include almost everything, B&B plus some happy hours and even some meals too.
  4. I am looking to organise a wide range of activities, events and visits for the week and everyone will be able to select say 3 activities. Additional events (if we can arrange them) will be charged but more or less at cost.
  5. I will rent a minibus for the week so that we can provide all local transport free. I suggest that you try to come either by motorbike (free safe parking under the hotel) or by public transport, cos a car will cost you about 30 Euro per dayfor parking!!! From Roma the best way is train to Salerno (2 hours door to door) and then either bus, ferry or minibus to Amalfi centre. The hotel is then only a 10 minute stroll.
  6. I need to plan carefully so I need your yes or no asap please and I will then ask you for a non-refundable deposit for every room, to ensure that you will really come.
  7. We will organise trips to Pompei, Caserta, Thermal Baths and Underground Naples for sure. Other activities will be organised depending on the weather we have that week, for instance a boat trip and motorcycle testing. My Raptor 700 Quad and TMax 530 will be available.

More to follow very soon, watch this space………

Some classic cars for sale, offers welcome and visits available for viewing, chats and coffee….

My mate Riccardo is a nutcase and a very passionate car collector and restorer. He was in the past a car racer and he competed in classic car races around Europe with various Alfa Romeos, his first love. He has accumulated a load of cars (plus some motorbikes) in his amazing workshop near Orte in Italy, less than an hour north of Roma.

His hobby is restoring his fleet of cars and he spends loads of time in his workshop. To visit him is to see some living history. I know very little about cars and even less about classic Italian cars so to spend some time with him is to share his passion and long experience. As well as the cars and bikes, he has endless shelves full of spares as well as partly built cars and he seems to know every spare part and engine, he has a story to tell for each!

Here follows some pictures and prices but note that the prices are only a guide, he is open to reasonable offers. The prices are fairly high cos he loves his cars and he seems to want to keep them all, but of course he is ready to consider serious offers. And if you wanna see the cars then if you fly into Roma (Ciampino if possible) I can always take you there for just petrol and motorway costs. So here we go with the current stock:

Number 1. Simca Rally Group 2, 1973. 18,000 Euro.

DSCN1735

Number 2. Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. 1963. Totally original and very low miles, rust free. 55,000 Euro.

Giulia

Number 3. Alfa Romeo 1900 Saloon. 1957. Totally original and no rust. 50,000 Euro.

1900 saloon

Number 4. Alfa Romeo 1750 GTAM Autodelta 1970. 150,000 Euro as is or 300,000 Euro fully restored.

GTAM 1750

Number 5. Mini Innocenti Cooper Export 1300. 1974. 14,000 Euro.

Innocenti

Number 6. Porsche 924 Turbo 1979 with new engine. 12,000 Euro

Porsche 924 Turbo

Number 7. Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 Group 1 track car. 1971. 30,000 Euro.

GTV2000

I can promise you that all of these cars are well worth seeing and Riccardo is always pleased to show folks his car over a coffee or a beer. These prices are ALL open to offers.

 

I wanna show you the lovely Amalfi coast….by bike. Watch this video!!!

Ok here we go, I have the GoPro 5 and I intend to make some trips along this stunning coast and show you the beauty of this area……please let me know what you think.

Please enjoy the trips…..here is the first one, from Amalfi along the coast to Positano. The GoPro is mounted onto my Yamaha TMax 530, please let me know what you think.

What an amazing long distance scooter er bike…..

I know and love the Yamaha TMax, I owned an old 500 briefly a few years ago and really enjoyed the experience, except the fuel consumption!. When I recently found an almost-new 530 for sale with very low mileage in the UK I could not resist her so then I needed to bring her down to Roma. I flew to the UK with Ryan Air and the excellent crew at Alf England serviced the bike and fitted a charger lead for me. I then set off from Coventry down to Cambridge where my sister lives, about 140km south.

This so-called scooter is really a motor bike and indeed if you remove the plastic a full motor bike frame and engine is revealed, which explains why it goes and handles like a “proper” bike. The engine is a really strong twin and pulls like a train in this new 530 version, just the continuous transmission reveals the scooter conversion so this means no clutch and gear lever.

The ride to Cambridge was slow and uneventful due to the usual heavy traffic and constant road works, I noted that the screen gives great wind protection even at motorway speeds and the bike always feels stable and pinned to the road. The long wheelbase means that the bike always goes straight and the brakes are fantastic, two large discs at the front and one at the rear (no ABS on this model).

Then the next day in constant drizzle I set off to ride back down to Roma. I had not really planned my route (cos I hate planning) and I have already made the trip several times by bike, car and van so I knew more or less the route the way I wanted to take. So first stop in the constant rain was the Channel Tunnel terminal near to Folkestone where I was sent to the front of the queue for a 15 minute wait for the next Chunnel train. The bike was fantastic over the previous 200km in the rain and only my helmet and my hands got wet, the bike’s bodywork kept me almost dry. I also discovered that bikes do not pay for the London Dartford Crossing, good news!

Fourty minutes later I rode off the train in downtown Calais and quickly hit the motorway, still raining but now less heavily, and headed south towards Reims. Reims is a lovely city and I know a good Ibis hotel quite near to the motorway. I covered the 270km quickly as I was quite hungry and I filled the bike with fuel so that I could make a fast getaway early the next morning. The TMax was averaging almost 60mpg and never missed a beat despite the rain. So I parked and locked her in the hotel car park and went to eat.

The next morning I left after an early breakfast heading south, my aim was Lyon and then Chamonix and the Mont Blanc tunnel. The rain had finally stopped and the sky started to brighten and the temperature increased with every kilometre south. I covered about 640km that day stopping only for coffee and fuel, the bike performed faultlessly and required fuel only every couple of hours, so progress was quite fast. The ideal cruising speed for the TMax is about 140kph (indicated) which is just below 6,000rpm, as over 6,000rpm the engine changes sound and starts to drink more fuel. Every engine has its sweet spot. At about 4pm I was really hungry and tired so as I approached Chamonix I spotted a Mercure Hotel just next to the road and so I turned off the motorway, found the hotel, took a room and rested before dinner and then bed. Lovely food and great place!

At 4.30 the next morning I checked out and left the hotel heading south again, firstly through the Mont Blanc tunnel and then onto the Italian motorways where I could use my Telepass, so I did not need to take tickets or pay the motorways tolls. I made good time and stopping only for fuel plus drinks and snacks I headed past Aosta and then picked up the west coast motorway towards Genova. Past Genova I headed south to Livorno and then turned east to Firenze, and then from Firenze it was only 300 kms to Roma. I got to Roma at about 1330 and the bike had covered 2,000 kms from Cambridge without missing a beat. Indeed I still felt good so after a 2 hour stop at home I headed south again and I got to Amalfi for dinner and a very well-earned rest. That was a 1,000 km day!!.

The Yamaha TMax 530 really suprised me. I never thought that a “scooter” could be such a great travelling companion for a long trip. It proved totally comfortable and reliable, easy to ride and with excellent fuel range between fill ups. WHAT a bike!! This is really a revalation as the TMax is generally used in the city to go fast between traffic lights whereas she is really a superb touring bike. Amazing. And of course this Yamaha engine consumed zero oil in the 2k kms,

We add a new bike to our fleet, a lovely 2015 Yamaha T Max 530!!

The Yamaha TMax is the original big scooter (to be honest a motorbike dressed as a scooter) and has been produced since 2001 in Japan. Yamaha have sold over 200,000 examples and today it sells as strongly as ever. I remember that when the sales reached 100,000 Yamaha announced that 80,000 bikes had been sold in Italy, so 80% of the total world sales are in Italy!! And the main sales area is Roma.

Today the TMax remains king of the Roman streets and even a 10 year old example still sells for 4,000 Euro and a new one today costs 13,500 Euro, as much as a small car. I know that these scooters are much less sought after in the UK so we recently managed to find a stunning white example, 2015 and only about 6,000km and 3 services, so we could not resist!!

This lovely bike is completely standard and looks brand new.

Pictures below.

Services moves to purchase a property

We have recently been studying the property market in the Amalfi coast area. To be more precise, inland near the coast where the prices are more reasonable, given that we are not looking for a holiday home with sea view.

The ideal property may be a small detached or semi detached house/villa with some land, or it could be a small business unit or even a piece of farm land with a stable or even a garage. Our plan is flexible as there are very few properties on the market and of course anything with a view over the coastline is worth a small fortune!

We may indeed need to rent some parking space to have a fast solution, and then search for a property to purchase later as the ideas are growing as we search. Some ideas are:

a. Car and van parking. There is always a need for safe parking spaces in the Amalfi/Ravello area. In Amalfi town there are only 2 public car parks and by 10am they are both full and so no more cars can stay. Also, the hotels always need more parking spaces.

b. Van and minibus parking. For daily visitors, as again there is nowhere to stop.

c. Rental car services. To be explored, we have alot of ideas on this front.

Etc. Watch this space, we start our property visits this week!!!!

Services moves up a gear…..

Yesterday I received a call from a friend here in Roma asking if I was interested to help. Her friend had called her from Milano for a contact with a fast motorbike so she put me in contact. The question was if I could collect a young lady from Rome Fiumicino Airport at 2150 and take her quickly to the RAI TV station in Roma???

Of course I accepted the job so at 2100 I was waiting at the airport outside Terminal 1 with my lovely (and very fast) Yamaha MT10 plus a rucksack with a spare helmet, gloves and jacket plus a bottle of water for our guest. The lady turned out to be a young and very talented singer called Simona Severini and the hurry was that she was performing in Milano and then very soon afterwards on RAI TV here in Roma.

My navigator was programmed for Via Asiago 10 and luckily at that time the traffic was not heavy and the weather lovely, warm and no wind. So very quickly and ahead of schedule Simona was delivered safely to her destination. All good!!!!

 

Restoring a truly unloved 2008 Audi A5 3200 V6 coupe

I bought a very neglected and really scruffy 2008 Audi A5 in early 2015. The car had two owners from new and was a really sad sight when I went to view her in the corner of a yard of a second hand dealer in the south of Roma. Badly scratched and damaged paintwork plus a very tatty interior, but I was specifically looking for this two-wheel drive version of the A5 with the 3.2 litre non-turbo petrol FSI engine, which was in production for only a few years. I love a large lazy engine as in my book this makes for very relaxed driving, I am not a fan of fast and furious turbo or supercharged engines.

This car would have cost over 55,000 Euro new in 2008 and was listed now at 19,500 euro, so after a quick inspection I offered 15,000 euro which was accepted after some very gentle haggling. Anything over 2.5 litres is considered a large engine here in Italy so prices are quite low, the Italian state makes you pay very heavily both to transfer the car into your ownership as well as for the annual road tax, which both go on the horsepower of the car.

I knew well that the cash I had “saved” on the deal would be needed to put the car back into decent working order. The front tyres were totally bald, for instance, which on a 265 bhp car is not a good start, so 950 Euro went on a new set of Pirelli P-Zeros. The seats of the car were threadbare (amazing!) so I found a complete new leather interior from a scrap A5, bought and fitted for 600 Euro and it even had electric seat controls!! The car was totally unloved so I also took her for a full service (for the first and last time!!!) to an official VW Audi dealer, that cost me about 700 Euro (and I even supplied the engine oil).

I found a web site for the A5 called http://www.a5oc.com and this helped me to gather loads of useful information advice and opinions about the A5. Well now two years into my A5 ownership (and love affair, I confess) I am happy to show my progress so here are some recent pictures. The leather interior is lovely. The bodywork still has quite a few scars but I am reluctant to spend on a respray given that the car lives in the city of Roma and so bumps and scratches are the order of the day. I have had the lovely 19″ alloy wheels refurbished and I have recently fitted a full set of Brembo brake discs and pads and also repainted the brake calipers.

The engine and auto gearbox have very luckily required only normal servicing so far. I did take quite a gamble as the car had zero service history but luckily the engine and gearbox have been bulletproof over the 40,000 km I have covered so far. I think that I will keep her for a few more years ‘cos the A5 is a lovely car and wonderful fun to drive.

Update: As it was time for the annual service, we put the A5 up onto the service ramp to have a good look underneath. Beppe spotted a very worn bush on the front suspension upper arm. So we decided that both bushes should be changed and at the same time we decided that all 4 shock absorbers should also be renewed as they showed some leakage. Some photos follow, and the car feels MUCH better!! I also opted to change all 4 discs and pads for Brembo and the car now stops better than ever. Lovely, such a fun drive.