With apologies to Suzanne Vega we really did stay on the second floor of a hotel in Lucca, a wake for the cancelled Motogiro and mopping up the airline tickets. Lucca's a fabulous hidden Tuscan gem, unless you're a Puccini fan in which case you'll know it's where the composer of Turandot and Madam Butterfly was born.
I've been visiting Italy since 1988, and in that time (like France) the thing that strikes me most is how Italians have become less passionate about supporting their fellow countrymen (or maybe just more open minded...): but certainly Italian bikes are now in the minority on the road. Even the police are running Triumphs (below), and along with BMW their market penetration is impressive - I'd guestimate they've easily got the Japanese on the run. Every Italian I asked about this gave the same answer - their home built bikes don't offer value for money, and few are inclined to pay what they see as over-the-odds prices just to support home-spun offerings. And it's no use spinning the "it's more expensive to build in Italy" yarn, because Hondas are built in Italy, while (I'm told) much of Guzzi's components come from the far east. Or it might just be the product - two weeks in Italy and I didn't see one Diavel, but you can't move for the new Fiat 500.
The classic scene's the same, although I'd say it's less vibrant in the UK (unless you're into tiddlers): most classics I saw were Hondas (500/4s especially) and more of those those pesky BMWs. No old Brit-bikes at all (though zillions of Harleys - wow, the Italians love Harley) which makes Triumph's current success even more impressive. When you think what John Bloor has achieved in a nation governed by fools who think we can all be media lovies or bankers it makes me proud to be English. Somebody give the man a Knighthood, and then put him in charge of...well, everything really.