Don’t-a worry, it’s like floating down a river!
Suddenly I could feel my heart beating in my throat as Filippo attempted to put each new rider at ease as we climbed onto our individual scooters. Maybe I hadn’t thought this through enough, motorcycles really freak me out, why did I assume a Vespa would be any different?
As I let my tour guide’s words calm my nerves and the Incubus song Floating Down a River played in the back of my mind I began driving painfully slow circles around the horse training pen.
This was the last day I had to enjoy Italy, and I had twisted the arms of some of my friend into taking the plunge and learning to drive a Vespa with me so that we could enjoy the beauty of the Tuscan countryside one last time together.
When Filippo was satisfied that all nine of us were experienced enough to handle the winding country roads, he stopped traffic to let us exit the farm with ease.
Our first stop was just a few kilometers down the road as we pulled over to get a couple of shots of the Staggia Castle and Filippo began indulging us in just a taste of the vast knowledge he has of the Chianti countryside.
The feeling of the wind in my hair and the comfort of the scooter made my body feel like it was in its natural state as I sped up to meet Fillipo at the head of the group. Ahead of us we could see the road stretching out and winding through the vineyards and cypress trees.
Filippo, our guide, had just returned from living in Australia not more than one month before and throughout lunch he filled us with stories of his life traveling America, Australia and Europe. His idea of paradise is showing up at the airport with a suitcase and picking a destination. Needless to say, he was my kind of guy!
Each stop along the way meant that we would get just a little bit more insight into the history of the countryside and how it was made into what it is today. Each of us eagerly listened as he spoke about how the region grew to be known as Chianti and the process for how the regions namesake wine is made.
As we walked through the vineyards just beyond the walls of Monteriggioni, we passed a man harvesting some of his grape crops as Filippo told us that, interestingly enough, Chianti wine was considered a horrible taste for years and just recently became known around the world as one of Italy’s finest wines. This is because when the Italian winemakers began their productions of Chianti, they were producing so much wine at a time that they were using up to 30% poor quality white grapes. Today, the rules have changed, as has the quality. Chianti wine is now known all around the world and the special blend is highly sought after as it can only be produced in that region of Italy.
For lunch we headed to just outside of Monteriggioni and had a huge table waiting for us complete with locally produced wines for our tasting pleasure.
The company director, Isaam, joined us for lunch and we all got to know each other over home-cooked varieties of gnocchi, bread, prosciutto and percorino cheese with fresh jams.
The tour continued and on we went to the medieval walled town of Monteriggioni where we were able to sample some of the finest wines in the region at a little cantina, Fattoria Castello di Monteriggioni, in the main square, Piazza Roma. As we stood at the top of the town we could see behind us all the road that we had covered to arrive in our destination.
When our day was over we cut back to the farm and as I was chasing the smiling bulldog puppy snapping pictures to make Lorenzo jealous, Isaam approached me asking if I would enjoy a stop in San Gimingnano to taste the award-winning best gelato. My friends and I graciously accepted.
San Gimignano was one of the first places I visited in Italy, and it would now become one of the last. The fresh gelato was the perfect ending to a Super Tuscan kind of day.
The feeling of freedom and the amazing time I had with Filippo and the rest of my Vespa gang were priceless. Most of the group even met up for a beer later in the evening to enjoy stories about life in Italy and traveling. I wasn’t able to join them unfortunately because I had many ends to tie up before heading off on my big adventure, but I will definitely be keeping in touch with the company as I always hold a special place in my heart for Florence tourism.
The tour cost €120 (€110 for students) and includes a driving lesson, insurance, lunch, wine tasting and a tour guide. Fun in Tuscany also runs daily horseback riding tours through the Tuscan Hills and other adventures. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter for Florence updates and cool tour photos.
Full Disclosure: Fun in Tuscany provided me with a free Vespa Tour but, as always, the opinions and words in this post are 100% my own.