A trip of wonders.
Croatia off the beaten track.
An outing as gratifying as a genuine trip. A route that condenses an extraordinary variety of scenery and lands in just a few hundred kilometres: the asphalt of the coasts and the dirt roads of the mountains, and then the rock, sand and gravel of the surfaces of an island, Pag, rightly considered “lunar”.
The new Multistrada 1260 Enduro, with its strong though versatile and always enjoyable temperament, takes us in search of Croatia and its atmosphere, perfectly balanced between Adriatic and Continental culture and a Mediterranean Sea that already smacks of the deep south.
Day 1. From Rijeka to Pag.
Beginning in Rijeka, we give ourselves over to pleasant coastal roads: to our right, the deep blue of the sea, the green of the Kvarner Gulf and the resplendent island of Krk. The gentle hill roads of Bribir carry us to our first destination, the picturesque little port of Senj, where we are refreshed by excellent Croatian seafood dishes, so very similar to those of Venice, and a masterfully mixed drink. Then, after a visit to the Senj fortress, we set out in the direction of Pag, enjoying the rugged cliff faces, craggy inlets and bright Mediterranean scrub along the coast.
Day 2. The Island of Pag.
After a quick stop to take in the view from above Karlobag, we take a little jog back north. At Prizna we catch the ferry to Pag. Croatia’s fifth-largest island welcomes us with its rugged, bare, predominantly karstic terrain, the only one of its kind among the Croatian islands. We pass through fantastical stony landscapes, blinding expanses of rocks, deserts of massive boulders eaten away by the Bora wind.
The new Multistrada 1260 Enduro takes the variations in this “Martian” terrain in its stride, thanks to the ideal riding mode and to its great stability, even on the most challenging of surfaces, the result of its sophisticated Ducati Skyhook Suspension Evo (DSS), which automatically guarantees the optimal set-up in any conditions. We stop for a break at Metajna beach, an enchanting combination of crystal-clear water and white pebbles. Then, in the town of the same name, we eat a meal as simple and rustic as the island itself: the renowned Pag cheese, savoury lamb, grapes and figs. We continue our journey across this magical island “moonscape” until we reach civilisation, the city of Pag.
Day 3. The Mali Alan pass.
The next morning we are back in the saddle, crisp air like an invitation, and we say goodbye to Pag. Passing over the imposing Maslenica bridge, we come to Obrovac, where two gulfs come together to meet one of Croatia’s most pristine rivers, the spectacular Zrmanja. We are just a few kilometres from the border with Italy, but it feels like Colorado. The magnificent canyon is a protected site, and it attracts rafting, kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts from all over Europe. From here we climb a road that is only partially paved, the legendary Mali Alan. To reach the 1,045 m pass, one must climb a mostly gravel road, where the new Multistrada 1260 Enduro displays all of its explorer’s talent.
Along the way we come across a herd of ibex, definitely unaccustomed to visitors. The chapel near the pass is shrouded in mystery, and legend says this place is inhabited by dragons. It is not hard to believe, in a place so remote, and yet so close to home. We did not bring back any souvenirs from this adventure, and yet, we doubtless brought home a little of its ineffable magic in our pockets.
of 01/2019 Redline Magazine