An Unforgettable Tour Through Tuscany
When we travel, I like to take some time, well, a LOT of time, to find things to do that are not the “run of the mill” things to do in a particular place. I did a lot of such research while planning our trip to Europe. One of the activities that I stumbled upon was a Vespa tour through the Tuscan countryside. This definitely sounded interesting.
After further research, I found that there were two companies in Florence that provided these tours. Once we did a side by side comparison, we decided to book our tour with FlorenceTown at http://www.florencetown.com/. For around 150 Euros each we would get a six hour tour through the Tuscan countryside, a winery tour, and lunch with wine tasting and a free T-shirt to boot while each riding our own Vespa. There is an option to be a rider rather than a driver; however, it would still cost 90 Euros and we decided that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun! There were also two time slots available to choose from: 9:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. We opted for the earlier tour.
When the day of the tour came, we made our way to the Florencetown office, only after a couple of wrong turns, and checked in. A van pulled up and took us to our starting point outside of the city center, about 20 minutes away.
Once we arrived at our starting point, we signed our liability waivers, met our tour guides, and chose our helmets. We then headed outside to get a crash course in riding a Vespa.
“We took turns riding our Vespas in circles around the training area. After everyone was comfortable on a Vespa, we chose our very own that we would be riding for the entire tour. ”
In total, there were eleven people in our tour including Chris, Ashley, and myself, and another much larger family consisting of the grandparents, the parents, and their young adult children. As it turned out, none of us had had any experience riding a Vespa. Not only did we have a tour guide, but there were four other guides/assistants as well. One of them took the lead in teaching us all how to handle a Vespa, which turned out to be pretty simple. We took turns riding our Vespas in circles around the training area. After everyone was comfortable on a Vespa, we chose our very own that we would be riding for the entire tour. I feel like I should mention here that, much to my joy, there is a storage compartment under the seat. This was just large enough to hold my purse, my large camera in its case, and a couple of water bottles.
After the training it was officially time to start our tour. One of the guides took the lead while another followed behind all of the participants. Another two guides followed behind in a van in case of problems, or if anyone decided that they no longer wanted to be a passenger on a Vespa.
The first stretch of the tour led us along winding roads, through beautiful shaded lanes, and quaint towns. Our first stop was the Ruffino Winery located at the Poggia Casciano Estate. Here we learned all about what it takes for a wine to be called Chianti, we learned about the Chianti region of Italy, and we toured the winery itself. We were then led outside to the beautifully landscaped lawns and breathtaking views of the vineyards. We were allowed plenty of time to take pictures and marvel at the incredible beauty of it all.
“We were then led outside to the beautifully landscaped lawns and breathtaking views of the vineyards. We were allowed plenty of time to take pictures and marvel at the incredible beauty of it all. ”
After the winery tour, we all revved up our Vespas and rode on to see what else was in store for us. Once again we rode around rolling hills, through charming towns, and the Tuscan countryside abounding with vineyards, and all the while tried to appreciate and comprehend the beauty and majesty of everything that surrounded us. I have never felt such utter amazement and awe as I did when I was on that Vespa!
Our guides stopped our caravan again; this time it was simply along a country road to enjoy the scenery and take advantage of the abundant photo opportunities. After our roadside stop we continued on to a small community, and stopped at the local store/deli/pastry shop for a snack and restroom break. We then drove on for several more minutes until we came to a residence which had been owned by Niccolo Machiavelli. We were given a brief history of Machiavelli by our guides, strolled through the winding paths, and again took advantage of the multitude of picture taking opportunities.
Following the Machiavelli stop, we continued our journey through Tuscany; our next stop was The Florence American Cemetery and Memorial. This cemetery and memorial is the burial place of thousands of soldiers lost during World War II. Again, we were given ample opportunity to explore and take pictures before heading out on our final leg of our amazing journey.
For the last part of our trip we made our way back to our original starting point. We parked our Vespas, returned our helmets, and settled in for a much needed buffet style lunch, complete with a tasting of Ruffino wine! Last, but not least, we were given our Florencetown T-shirts and boarded the van to take us back to the city, our heads filled with incredible landscapes and an experience we will never forget.
“I have never felt such utter amazement and awe as I did when I was on that Vespa! ”
I cannot recommend this Vespa tour highly enough. The guides were extremely knowledgeable, personable, and informative, each stop along our route was interesting, I felt completely safe the entire trip, and the views were spectacular. This was, by far, the highlight of our entire trip to Europe!
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