Marina Cianferoni

Today we speak with Marina Cianferoni, a rider from Italy who lives close to Mugello and rides a classic BMW R75/7. She rides motorcycles and writes about them, having penned a stellar novel about motorcycles in movies. Here we learn a little bit more about her and about riding in Italy, home to some of the most brilliant riding roads in the world and spiritual mecca of pure racing in every form. [Rashmi Tambe, Editor, Global Women Who Ride]

Women Who Ride: Italian motorcyclist Marina Cianferoni (Photo Credit: Rebecca Heyl)

Name: Marina Cianferoni
Age: 44
Country: Italy
Languages: Italian, Spanish, English
Years Riding: 23
Height: 1,70 m
Current motorcycles: 1977 BMW R75/7, 1984 BMW GS80
Past motorcycles: Yamaha SR250, Honda VF 400F
Gear: Open helmet, jacket with protections, leather pants, gloves, boots.
Kms Per Year: 5000
(Photo Credit: Rebecca Heyl)

Please introduce yourself. I graduated from the University of Florence in History of Cinema. I worked for five years as a teacher and a Spanish translator, then quit to become a journalist for Italian and Spanish motorcycle magazines. In 2004, I married Juan, a Spaniard who is crazy about motorcycles, especially classic ones.

I started riding at the age of twenty one because of a family illness, so to speak. My dad was a motorcyclist all his life, as was my brother, and my first boyfriend.

I’ve written some novels and a book about motorcycles in movies, called Due Ruote E Una Manovella (Two wheels and a Crank Camera). This book is about motorcycles in movies. It begins with the origins of both inventions – motorcycles and cinema – at the end of the nineteenth century, and works its way to modern cinema from the twenty-first century. It captures in detail the various unique motorcycles depicted in well-known and obscure movies throughout this time period.

Describe your path into motorcycling. When I was sixteen, I saw a young woman on her red Honda 400 Four. An old woman who was passing by said to her – “Aren’t you afraid of riding a motorcycle?” She shook her head to say no. She had a big smile on her face. I thought that I would like to be like her – as soon as possible.

My first bike was a little Yamaha SR250, suggested by my boyfriend. It was the perfect one to start riding on: quiet, easy, a strong mono-cylinder, with a very good character. I learned to love riding on her. I sold her in 1994 because I was out-riding its abilities which was getting dangerous. It was a pity.

Women Who Ride: Italian motorcyclist Marina Cianferoni in 1992, during her first trip alone through Tuscany

Marina Cianferoni during her first trip alone through Tuscany

My second bike was my father’s Honda VF400. It was a very nice bike but I realized that I definitely preferred two cylinders to four. Now I have two dual cylinder bikes: a BMW R75/7 and a GS 80. Two cylinders  in general is my favorite type of engine since I don’t have to use the brakes frequently. The engine is the best brake. You just have to use the gears to go faster or slower, and that means you find a rhythm on the road, almost like dancing.

I love riding up mountain roads and coming up to a pass, going slower than other riders who might go fast but have terrible style and incorrect lines. I don’t like to ride fast, but I adore riding well.

Women Who Ride: Marina Cianferoni on her BMW R75/7 named Frida

Marina Cianferoni on her BMW R75/7 named Frida

Women Who Ride: Marina Cianferoni dancing across the Italian countryside

Marina Cianferoni dancing across the Italian countryside

How come an Italian living in Italy does not ride a Ducati? I really love Ducatis. Their sound is music to me. I don’t ride them because they are expensive. Back when I started riding, the style in which you rode a Ducati was more sporty. Ducatis are more for people who love speed, and I’m not one of them.

I remember getting to ride the new 1993 Ducati Monster on the Mugello circuit when I was invited by a friend for testing some Dunlop tyres. It was really a wonderful experience.

Women Who Ride: Marina Cianferoni test riding a Ducati on the Mugello circuit

Marina Cianferoni test riding a Ducati on the Mugello circuit

Do you have any motorcycling heroes? My favorite motorcyclists are people who can ride well, with elegance. Steve McQueen is probably my favorite since I’m a romantic.

Can you share a story from any of your rides? Many years ago, I stole my father’s Honda VF400 and ran out of gasoline in the middle no where, somewhere in the Alps. That’s when I experienced for the first time, the kindness of  other motorcyclists. Especially as a woman motorcyclist, which was still quite unusual at the time in Italy.

First a young man took me to the petrol station. When I returned to my motorcycle with an emergency tank of gas, an old man took me with him to go forage for mushrooms. He was so kind, he gave me a push to get me started too. I was at home for lunch, before my father arrived.  What a perfect day.

Women Who Ride: Marina Cianferoni on an old Yamaha SRX

Marina Cianferoni on an old Yamaha SRX (Photo Credit: Nathalie Krag)

Do you have any advice for people who want to get into riding?
For people who want to get into motorcycling, I have just a couple of suggestions. Choose the right motorcycle. The choice of a good first bike is critical for good training in order to begin a good biker. Obviously, if your teacher is a bad motorcyclist, you’ll become another bad one! So, another fundamental thing is the choice of who should be your teacher. I suggest a good motorcycle safety course. My brother is one of those federal teachers, here in Tuscany.

Women Who Ride: Marina Cianferoni

Marina Cianferoni in Spain


If I were to visit you and we went riding for one morning, where would you take me? To the Muraglione Pass, of course. The zone I’m living in, the Mugello (yes, where the  racetrack is!) is wonderful for riders.  And to the Colla pass, the Giogo pass etc. On Google Maps, look for: 44.028865,11.780663.

What’s the best part about riding in Italy? It’s a very “wild” country and very picturesque. The Mugello has woods, mountains, bendy roads, bad road surface and wild animals that sometimes venture on to the roads.

What are the best months for riding there? Spring and fall, but it depends on the weather. I usually adore October, November, or May.

There’s a lot of traffic during the summer, especially on the weekend. Italy is a little country, full of people and cars. The winter is usually cold.

Is it safe to ride at night where you live? No, because of the wild animals. They are more active in those hours.

Is there a local motorcycling event that you try and attend regularly? The event I used to participate in for the Spanish magazine I wrote for was the Motogiro d’Italia, a reenactment of an historic race like the Milano-Taranto. It is held in a different place every year, like Abruzzo, Sicily and Sardegna.

And of course, I was present at the first four annual reunions of the web site There are a lot of events like this in Italy, especially for classic motorcycles, which are a real passion for a lot of people.

Women Who Ride: Marina Cianferoni at the first reunion of in 1999

Marina Cianferoni at the first reunion of in 1999

Are motorcyclists discriminated against in any way? Italy is probably one of those countries where the motorcycle is more loved and respected. However, the government and its laws show that it is completely incapable of understanding our needs  and our rights.

Are any motorcycle related sports popular where you live and do women actively participate in them? Races are the most popular sport. Every weekend some rider dies on the mountains because he rides too fast for the kind of road and traffic they are riding on. It’s usually becuas because they are a fan of the races but they don’t ride like real racers do.

How do car drivers treat motorcycle riders on the road? We are speaking about two different people, aren’t we? So, if I am a driver who knows what it is to be a motorcyclist, I will respect them. If I don’t, I’ll be a danger for them, an enemy. Always.

Is motorcycle theft a problem? Here in the country side, the situation is good. It’s worse in the big cities like Naples, Rome and Milan. The thief, however, is looking for easy money. So he doesn’t look at the old bikes, just the big scooters.

How are women motorcycle riders treated by most people and by male motorcyclists? If you mean in ordinary life, I would say that people usually look at women riders with curiosity . They respect us or help us if we need it. If you are speaking about the women riders who race, it is more evident that we live in a “men’s country”. A man doesn’t compete with a woman more talented than him because is a man!

Do female and male motorcyclists have the same amount of freedom to pursue motorcycling activities? Theoretically, yes.  favicon