Emerson Gattafoni & Valeria Cagnoni

A story of travel and shared passions.

Bikers, travelers, authors, directors, documentarians, conductors, as well as life companions. One word is really not enough to define Emerson Gattafoni and Valeria Cagnoni, who live what, for many, is a dream in the drawer. To make it come true, they put a lot of work and dedication, but also a boundless passion. For travel, video-making and two wheels.

The beauty of leaving doors open

It's really hard to define who you are or what you do in just a few words. How would you describe it?

Valeria: I don't like definitions very much. I believe that not defining oneself in life leaves many doors open. I left one open: I studied architecture and then I didn’t work as an architect. Looking at my life in the last 20 years, I'd say I'm a hobo eager for life, for the world, for landscapes and for motorcycles.

Emerson: I started travelling on two wheels at a very young age. I'm a big fan of motorcycles. About 40 years ago I started working as a filmmaker, and then I realised my big dream of being able to travel the roads of the world as a profession. A fantastic job that allows me to spend all my time on my bike.

The roads that brought you to this common path have been different. How and when did you meet? How did you start to experience two-wheel adventures together?

E: We met 21 years ago, in Milan. I courted her for a long time. Then one day I told her that I was leaving for a big trip from Patagonia to Newfoundland, in Canada, travelling along the entire Atlantic coast, and that afterwards I would go to Miami and then leave for the second part of the trip: from Key West to New York.Before leaving, I gave her a plane ticket and told her "...if you can free yourself up in July, fly to Miami so we can ride together".She got on the plane that day, flew to Miami, and we took our first trip together. We haven’t stopped in 20 years, making 260 television episodes and travelling about one million kilometres together.

The charm of Ducati red on the roads of the World

How did you meet with Ducati and how did you decide to start working together?

E: We’ve always ridden Italian motorcycles. Fifteen years ago we realised our dream of riding these fantastic red motorcycles on the roads of the world. Ducati is a very special brand: you’re recognised, you’re Italian with an Italian red motorcycle. This gives us the chance to interact much more easily with people who stop to look at the bike or ask us questions about it. And we’ve always taken advantage of these meetings to learn about the culture and history of the people who stop us to admire our Ducatis up close.

In your new book, Dreams Road - Viaggi per spiriti liberi, you’ve chosen to recount seven itineraries that touch five continents. We know that Australia and Chile are trips that meant a lot to you, but we’d like to hear some anecdotes. If you were to choose one particularly difficult trip and one of your favourites (which you’d like to re-live a thousand times over), which would they be?

V: In all these years we’ve had some truly incredible experiences. Once we rode to the home of the President of the Republic of Uruguay on our two "red horses". Travelling by motorcycle has always made it easy for us to meet people on the road, which for us was the most important thing, the most precious! Everyone asks us which was the best trip of our lives, but to be honest it’s a hard question to answer. One that has remained particularly close to my heart is certainly the humanitarian trip that we made after buying Dr Costa's Mobile Clinic, taking it all the way to Senegal. It was a complicated journey because Mauritania was going through a very hot and very dangerous time, and we crossed it all with a truck followed by two Jeeps and our Multistrada 1100 bikes. It was definitely the best trip and project of my life..

E: And who can forget the day we met the Dalai Lama for the first time in Leh, Ladakh. He was fascinated by the fact that we were going to visit him on a motorcycle, and he went crazy because the bike was the same colour as his clothes. Aside from the interview, he wanted to ride the motorcycle at all costs.

Even though we’ve met the Dalai Lama many times, he never remembers my name. For him I’m not Emerson, I’m MOTORCYCLE!

V: The most recent anecdote was during our last trip to the United States. The story is linked to the moment when we took the picture that’s now on the cover of our new book, 10 years ago. In the picture the two of us are standing in front of Monument Valley with our bikes. A month ago we were in a completely different place, in the Badlands. A car stops and a gentleman gets out and says, "I remember you 10 years ago, in Monument Valley! It has to be you, because I remember the two red Ducatis!".

E: So this motorcycle – so iconic – can stop time, right!?

Traveling Yesterday. Traveling Today.

Travelling yesterday and travelling today: what’s changed over the years when it comes to motorcycle road trips? Is there a trip you’d like to take again?

E: You never tire of travelling. The road is like a time machine. You can travel on a road and then retrace your steps ten years later, understanding the evolution of the passing generations, as well as the evolution of society as a whole. Just look at the exit of a school, or a market. There are many things on the roadside that mark the passing of time.

I always say: the roads of the world are the greatest clock on the planet.

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