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!!
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.
The other fiendish idea is to start an interesting sub-business with spare parts. We 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 spares is an interesting one and possibly mainly in the hands of er 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.
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.
I therefore have 28 rooms in the hotel to host my “guests”, plus the 3 apartments if required.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!!
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.
Renovated alloy wheels….
New mirror covers too.
The lovely restored 19″ Y Spoke wheels plus new brakes
This is an interesting and unexpected development for sure. I love the TV programme Wheeler Dealers with Edd and Mike….these pictures I found on the web. But the car is real.
I recently spotted a rather unusual car for sale here in Italy, a 1997 TVR Cerbera. The car is RHD and has only 42k miles on the clock, she dates from 1997 and was then transferred onto Italian registration plates in 2007. I aim to go and see her this weekend. This car has the TVR-made 4 litre V8 engine. The story is that this plus another TVR were owned by an enthusiast and his wife is looking to sell them as he has passed away. Very sad.
So what is the plan?? Well, this car is far too beautiful to keep here in Roma and given that she is RHD she is not readily usable nor saleable here in Italy. So, my idea is to take her back to the UK and sell her there where there is a reasonable market for these very specialist cars. TVR is a UK manufacturer which survived on a shoestring but made some truly stunning cars.
I have my trusty Vito van and I can borrow a car trailer from a friend so I have contacted some specialised UK dealers for their opinions. One is very interested and has suggested how I should proceed so I think that I will take the car to him first.
I went to see the stunning Cerbera last weekend and goodness, what a car. I have made an offer so let’s see what happens. And here below are some pictures of the car for sale…
Our fleet of cars and bikes are always up for sale, at the right price. Here follows a brief description and a photo of each with an approximate value, but any prices will be calculated at the time you make an enquiry ‘cos of course the value depends on many factors including the age and mileage, so I list the current mileage (early September 2016).
Mercedes Vito 120 CDI (diesel). 2009, red, worth about 18k euro. Purchased new in Roma in November 2009, this lovely van has loads of factory extras as well as some stuff I have fitted over the years. Here we go:
Vito Van “medium” wheelbase with 3000cc V6 turbodiesel engine, auto gearbox (5 speed) plus cruise control, 205bhp. 3 seats “leather look” with arm rest for driver, extra side sliding door, protective load tray with hooks both on floor and side walls. Fitted with Pioneer satnav/stereo with decent speakers plus subwoofer fitted under the middle seat. Motorbike front wheel holder in rear of van. Chrome mirror covers plus rear light surrounds. Lovely black alloy Merc wheels with summer tyres (new July 2016) plus a set of standard metal wheels with winter tyres. I have just this month fitted a SuperChip to increase the power to about 235 horses but above all this has greatly increased the driveability and torque so its now even more fun to drive. Currently about 86k kms.
Audi A5 3200V6 (petrol) S line silver 2008, purchased very third hand in Roma in 2014. Quick description:
Audi A5 Sline, front wheel drive and 3200cc V6 normally aspirated petrol engine with 265 bhp and 8 speed auto gearbox, worth about 20k euro. Full black leather interior with electric front seats. Standard stereo with subwoofer added in the boot. 19″ Audi alloy wheels recently refurbished and finished in dark alloy with Pirelli PZero tyres. Currently about 150k kms and running great. Just fitted a throttle controller and so now much more responsive.
Yamaha Super Tenere 1200 2015 blue, UK registered.
The Super Tenere is the latest model (2015, worth about 16k euro) with electronic suspension, ABS, cruise control, heated grips plus a host of other electronic stuff. Beautiful in Yamaha blue. Fitted with Givi aluminium engine bash protector, Givi engine bars plus Givi carrier bars with alloy cases. Support for TomTom satnav plus Puig headlight protector. Currently about 8k kms. Amazing for cruising 2 up and fully loaded this bike just floats, fairly quick too. New lighter exhaust system on order.
Yamaha MT10 2016, blue, UK registered.
The MT10 is the latest Yamaha to be launched, worth 16k euro. It has the 2016 R1 crossplane engine, detuned from 200 to about 160 bhp. Mine is standard just fitted with the Yamaha comfort seat plus a small windscreen and TomTom satnav holder. Now about 4500km after I rode her down to Roma from the UK. FLIES!!! Here she is on the train, ready to cross the channel tunnel. Aftermarket Leo Vince exhaust system just fitted.
Yamaha Giggle 2010. UK registered and yellow.
The most amazing 50cc moped ever, the 4 stroke Giggle was made in Japan for the Japanese market and Yamaha only brought a few to Europe, they sold very very few cos they cost almost 3000 Pounds new!!. Mine is worth about 1.2k euro. It is 50cc with electronic fuel injection and limited to 50kmh so returns about 60km per litre. Mine has a Yamaha windscreen plus metal front carrier fitted and has suffered some Roman road rage but still runs great, some 5800 miles now. I must find a picture, in the city I am asked for a pizza or an ice cream at almost every traffic light….
Yamaha Raptor 700R Quad 2006, white.
The Raptor is powered by a fuel injected 700cc version of the 4 stroke single cylinder XT660 engine, now worth perhaps 6k euro. She is rear wheel chain driven and has 5 speeds plus reverse. Mine is standard just with a topbox and goes really well, amazing fun off-road. Will climb almost anywhere and is at her best off road of course, sand mud and snow are her specialities. Fun on the road too but needs a firm hand to convince her to turn a corner.
Call or text or whatsapp me on +39 333 8153190 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look at these pics!!! This car workshop restores old cars and also has some of his own. Mmmm. He is based in Roma and some of these cars are up for sale, for instance the Lancia Thema Ferrari which has a 3.2L Ferrari engine is up for offers and there are VERY few around.
See these pictures, ALL of these cars are available for rental for a party or special weekend or whatever. This guy currently has around 30 cars and is constantly adding more, I can take you to see them anytime. See his web site http://www.autonoleggiopercerimonia.it/ and mmmm what a mouth-watering collection.
Roma and Italy are nightmares for the unaware and the uninitiated. The car is a particular worry, as there is no space to park a car in Roma and the costs of safe off-street parking can be horrendous. And if you park on the street (if you find a space) you are always worried about damage and break ins and worse.
Well I have the solution(s). I know an excellent guy near where I live in San Lorenzo (which is very near to the central train station Termini) who has a garage for parking a car and or motorbikes at very reasonable rates, and he also has a small maintenance garage inside the car park where he sorts out everything from a new light bulb to a new engine, and most things inbetween.
I also know an official VW/Audi/Seat/Skoda garage, they service and repair the VW group range (and therefore stamp the service book and enter all into the VW computer). The owner is an excellent and reliable fellow but the costs are VW official, so of course higher than the other non-official fixers.
And an excellent mate of mine is a motor bike expert in Roma, he specialises in race bike suspension but they will also service and repair anything on 2 wheels, from moped to superbike. ALL at very very good rates and using only the best oils and components, and they give a waranty on the work carried out.
AND if your car or bike is Italian registered you will need a “revisione” or MOT test when it is 4 years old and then every 2 years. I know an excellent place who test cars and bikes and vans and charge to official published rate and I can take it for you. NO WORRIES just service!!