EXPLORING FLORENCE & THE CHIANTI HILLS BY VESPA
My love for Italy and my annual jaunts to the Tuscan Hills have always left me in awe of images of brightly coloured vintage Vespas painted on backdrops of Cyprus trees and terracotta roof-topped farm houses. So naturally this year, I felt it was high time, yours truly sported oneself on the back of a vintage Vespa to explore the quaint villages, which lie just outside of Florence.
WORKING WITH LOCALS & WE LIKE TUSCANY
Loving the adventure seeker, I know all too well that safety is paramount so I made it a priority to look through recommendations and reviews to aid my research. As you probably know, I always dig for local tour guides and small business owners to showcase their hidden gems and less tourist-trap attractions. My search led me to a company called Withlocals who deliver authentic experiences, which I like to deliver on Be-lavie by using registered tour guides who live and work in the city. Withlocals cover numerous cities on their website so check them out here.
You select the guide, which best matches your fit and send them a message about the experience with all the particulars such as dates, times, what exactly you’d like to cover and your interests. You then receive a personalised itinerary of your experience together with an offer. As these are personalised, you can fine tunes them to include exactly what you’d like.
A couple of days before our experience was due, we received a confirmation from Oliver (our booking guide) with a meeting point, the names of our Vespa drivers and their contact details. Withlocals works with We Like Tuscany, based in Oltrarno in Florence, who take care of everything on the day. You can also book a number of local and authentic experiences via We Like Tuscany such as walking tours, bicycle tours as well as the Fiat 500 drive into Chianti, which we also sampled.
THE VESPA EXPERIENCE
The round trip Vespa Tour lasted about 2.5 hours and started at We Like Tuscany’s HQ, Oltrarno. Our drivers for the day were Jafet and Michelangelo. I was riding with Jafet, who had a beautiful Tiffany blue vintage Vespa and Dr C was with Michelangelo who had a much faster bike. We were offered the opportunity to change rides halfway through the experience!
After ensuring we were comfortable, we were off zooming down the streets. Ok, so just a note to remember a Vintage Vespa doesn’t go that fast, maybe 30-40 mph.
I’m not going to beat about the bush, the first ten minutes of the ride, out of the city along the city walls and then uphill, on a sharp incline at times with cars and bikes whizzing past you at supersonic speed; loving a bit of adventure, I decided to hold on to Jafet, maybe a little tighter than I would a stranger but I soon relaxed into the ride and steadied myself.
Jaret and Michelangelo gave us snippets of history and local facts about olives groves, wine estates, monasteries, Galileo’s house and many more stories as we rode through the Tuscan hills into Chianti. It was a real charm to be in the slower pace of terracotta rooftops and Cyprus trees and away from the hustle and bustle of the city below us.
Views on the elevations were stunning and there was great banter between between the four of us. Jaret and Michelangelo’s camaraderie was infectious and they had us in laughter throughout the tour.
Before we made a descent back into the city, we visited a typical local coffee and grocery shop, where we took a rest, had some coffees and sampled some of their freshly baked bread drizzled with locally produced Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We also took in the large collection of Chianti wines.
It was then time to make our descent from the Tuscan Hills back into Florence via some of the most beautiful viewpoints including Piazzale Michelangleo and along the Arno to take in the famous Ponte Vecchio. We zipped along the side of the Uffizzi and then back into Oltrano, where our experience came to an end.
A wonderfully exhilarating experience, with knowledgeable guides, in one of the most beautifully curated cities and landscapes in the world. Local guides mean all the lowdown on what to visit, where to eat, where to take an Aperativo with a knockout view and who makes the best Espresso!
The Vespa Tour is something I’m not sure I’ll forget in a long time and totally would I do it again? HELL YES!!!!
BE-LAVIE’S VESPA EXPERIENCE TOP TIPS
Ladies, you may be more comfortable wearing trousers than a skirt. Mainly to do with the position you’ll be sitting in!!
Take as little with you. A small handbag or backpack is best as there is no where to store it.
Make sure you’re camera has a neck strap. I was quite confident in not holding on towards the end so managed to take some videos with one hand but BE CAREFUL!!!
Take some sunglasses as the Tuscan sun can be sharp on the hills and you really want to see the view instead of squinting.
I promise you, after about ten minutes, things won’t feel as scary if you haven’t been on a Vespa or bike before. Use your core muscle strength to steady yourself.
Don’t be shy to hold on to your driver. They will make sure you are comfortable before setting off. I initially found going up hill s little tricky (Tuscan hills can be a sharp incline!) as there are no bars to hold onto and you do feel like you’re falling off but you won’t.
Disclaimer: The Vespa experience was kindly discounted in exchange for this review by Withlocals. All opinions, views and photography are honest and my own as always and therefore remain a copyright of Be-lavie.
Have you ever ridden a Vespa? What was your experience?
We Like Tuscany
Via del Campuccio, 88,
Tel. +39 342 935 2395
Bookings can be made via We Like Tuscany’s Website
Want to re-live the fun? Click on the slide show below…
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