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Published: April 19th 2011
Friday, May 21st:
found my mom abandoned, standing by herself on the side of the roadThis was going to be a very exciting day for my dad…a dream come true!!! We woke up to another glorious and sunny morning, and went down to the neighborhood coffee bar for our regular sustenance. We had to catch the train into Florence to meet our Vespa tour guides!!! We were advised to meet at 9:30 in front of the McDonalds, which was in front of the Santa Maria Novella train station. Since we arrived early, we took advantage of using their bathroom, and got another espresso from the annex called McCafe…a very fancy café that served yummy coffee drinks and gourmet pastries…I know what you are thinking…gourmet and McDonalds? Well in Europe, it’s true! The seating looks like you are in a high end hotel lobby, and the coffee and treats are quite luxurious as well! I was impressed! LOL Anyway, at our prescribed time, we went outside and met with our group. It was quite a large group! 17 of us in all…the largest group they have ever had…should be fun!!! As I mentioned before…this was a dream come true
for my dad…for the longest time, he has wanted a Vespa scooter! So to be able to ride one for 6 hours through the Tuscan countryside was just amazing! We all jumped in to two vans, and after about 45 minutes, we made it to the farm where the scooters were housed. I say “farm” because the tour group, “Fun in Tuscany” not only do Vespa tours, but they do horseback riding tours and four wheeler ATV tours too. While everyone got to use the bathroom (there was only one), drink some wine (yikes…right before riding on public roads??), and get fitted for helmets (can anyone say bobble head…mom and Kenya?) lol, we got to walk around and pet the various animals housed there…dogs, cats, horses, Shetland ponies…you get the picture. All of the Vespa scooters were sitting up on this hill with a rock path and an oval riding ring? Lorenzo, our main guide, asked us if we had ever ridden before, and did we feel comfortable? I said yes, this would be my fourth time, but my mom and dad had never done it. So Lorenzo gave my dad this really cool orange Vespa that really looked like
a racer…we got our preliminary instructions, and away we went around the track. My mom was another story…now she has asked me not to disparage her in my blog, and she asked me this publically on Facebook at that!! Why she would EVER think that I would, but now that I think about it, her asking me not to, gave me an opening, after all, everyone will always wonder why she asked me not to…right? LOL Anyway, I think what she meant is that truly, we almost wet our pants laughing at each other when we put on our helmets…bobble heads it was going to be…or…could it be that while she was trying her best to look like she knew what she was doing on the scooter, she really could not get past the moment when she nearly took out Lorenzo and the rest of the waiting scooters…perched so beautiful on their kickstands? LOL Just kidding…I think her nerves just got the best of her…a little…so she chose to ride with one of the guides…hey…even saved herself a bit of money! Kenya got to ride with handsome Thomaszo…as a matter of fact, they had matching sunglasses!! The kind the actors
in “C.H.I.P.’s" wore. You could not even begin to wipe the grin off of her face! The third guide was a guy named John, and he was actually from Australia!! So…after everyone got their practice done around the track, it was time for the real road…I know I was just a tad nervous, because the entrance to the farm was through a narrow stone entryway, and the street outside of it was kinda busy! But no worries, the guides stopped the traffic, and all 17 of us were on our way!! Why I got my bike up to 50 miles an hour! I will cherish the memories of this tour forever…I can’t quite describe how absolutely awesome riding a Vespa scooter through the Tuscan countryside is…just close your eyes and imagine riding up and down gentle green hills that have herds of cattle or horses on them, vineyards as far as your eye can see, and every time we came to a village, you get to look down flower filled stone alleyways with windows that have hanging flower boxes too…every little town was old and you could tell that there was just a ton of history there!!! My favorite town
was Lornarno, and I just can’t tell you why…it was one of those places you see in typical Tuscan calendar pictures, way up on the hill with cypress tree lined drives, etc. There were several opportunities to stop and take pictures, yes, even pictures of my mom halfway falling off the back of John’s scooter…after about 45 minutes, we stopped, and my mom ended up going on the back of Lorenzo’s scooter…she looked so cute with her legs dangling!!! There was one guide in the front of our group, telling us where we should go, stop, etc (the bike my mom was on), a guide in the middle of the group, and the third guide followed. At one point in the day, we all came around a big curve and found my mom abandoned, standing by herself on the side of the road…apparently, there was a couple who just took off in front of them and kept going and kept going…way past our turn off…so Lorenzo tried to race and catch them while my mom was on the bike, but the bike wouldn’t go any faster, so he asked her to wait while he raced to catch up to them!!
We had a good laugh about that! She felt like she got a little extra adventure!! And Lorenzo was very gracious about it all! Did I mention…he looked just like my uncle when my uncle was younger (my mom’s brother, Mike)? Anyway, after about two hours, we stopped at a medieval castle, called Montoriggiano, and we got to do some wine, olive oil, and honey tasting, down in the cellar. The olive oil in Italy tastes very different than what we get in America…it has a more fresh, earthy green flavor…Now I am not normally a wine drinker (I really do not like the taste…Riesling is the only one I like), but I sampled it anyway…still did not like it, but I felt very cultured swishing the wine in my glass, looking and sniffing at it, and then taking a sip! I rather enjoyed tasting the various honeys, and I bought three to take home with me, two raspberry and one pepper flavored. Kenya had fun exploring the grounds, eating gelato, and taking a load of pictures! The castle was really a massive fortress on the top of this hill and it was awesome to look at, from the
distance!!! The inner courtyard had several restaurants and currently has 40 residents…I think this was one of my mom’s favorite places!! I could not blame her, it was quite an experience! Anyway, after that, we rode around for another hour, then we stopped at this restaurant, on a lake, where the owners/family started bringing out massive quantities of food! It was all part of the price of our tour, so we dug and ate good! We had breads with various dips and tapenades, deep fried vegetables, two different kinds of pastas, and I can’t remember everything else! One of the waitress’ had her little girl there…ok, not so little…she was 8…and Kenya got our translation book out, and made instant friends with her! She did not speak English, but Kenya managed to find out her name (Giovanna), her age (8), if she went to school (yes), and did she like it? (yes) and off she went to play on the playground and trampoline with her new friend! I was so impressed, as was everyone else! After everyone’s bellies were full of food and wine, we went off on our merry way…laughing and just enjoying all of our new found friends!
We got back on our scooters, and during the ride back to the farm, Kenya and Thomaszo tried to race me up this hill! We looked so funny…leaning forward, with our chins jetted out and really just putting up the hill! Hee hee…
It took almost an hour to get back to the city, and the plan was to give my parents a chance to explore Florence a little bit…of course they had to see the Duomo, and the David!!!! There was this little square where there were several horse and carriages, and there was this little old Italian guide sleeping in his carriage…of course we all stopped to take a picture of him, wouldn’t you know it, by the time my camera clicked, his eyes came open, and he was looking at me like, “I KNOW you did not just take a picture of me while I was sleeping!!” I put my camera down asap and walked away…but snuck a look at it later, and it turned out sooo funny…seriously, it looked just like he was looking directly into my camera!!!! My mom’s and Kenya’s turned out perfect though!!
We took the train
back to the villa, where Kenya went swimming the rest of the evening, and we ate a light dinner of bread, cheese, salami, prosciutto, and olives…yummo!
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