Italy - Day 6 - Florence and Tuscany

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September 19th 2012
Published: September 29th 2012
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Ready for Wine TastingReady for Wine TastingReady for Wine Tasting

After getting a gross cappuccino at the ONLY clean bathroom in Italy
I woke up on Wednesday morning so excited for the Vespa tour - this was to be the highlight of my trip: touring the Tuscan countryside on a Vespa, sipping wine, having a great lunch, taking lots of photos. I got up nice and early, took a shower and got dressed. When Gwosh got up, I threw open the windows and ... RAIN??? I mean, I know that the forecast said there was to be rain today, but it wasn't supposed to hit til the afternoon. I was so disappointed. I left my short shorts on, hoping that it would clear up later in the day and become the beautiful weather we'd had almost the whole time once again.

We went to a little corner shop for some capuccino and tried to warm up. We bought ponchos and an umbrella from one of the many street guys (they were fun - on sunny days, they would sell hats and sunglasses). We walked to the tour office and they had three optioins for a rain event: we could continue and hope for it to clear up getting 30 euros back if we didn't ride and at least getting a shuttle doing the same tour, or we could cancel and get half our money back, or we could keep the trip and just postpone the date even by giving it away. We decided to just go ahead and go for option 1 - what else were we going to do?

So we had a nice shuttle ride (with an older American couple) to this little staging area, basically a campground for the Contiki tours. Here, we sign our lives away. If you're familiar with riding bikes, as Gwosh most definitely are, they make you do a quick little lap to verify and you're on your own. If you haven't ridden before, they take their time to train you and if they feel you are a danger to yourself or others, they request that you ride in their tuk-tuk instead. There were three other women who had never ridden a vespa before and all were nervous. Two were young women from Austrailia and they were having a good time, rode the vespas around in a loop but were too nervous to drive themselves (I think this was especially true because of the rain - it's not as fun). So, they opted to ride on the back of one of the tour leader's bikes part time. The older women in our van also tried her luck but the poor woman wound up side swiping a stone wall and scratched the crap out of her hand and wrist - bleeding pretty profusely. I was the last one to get my orientation and Josh had told me how to handle it and what to expect, so when Jacopo came up to lead me off, I was not quite as nervous and seemed to do okay. When we went around the first corner, we saw the lady who had hit the wall and she looked shaken. Jacopo went with me around the first loop to make sure I was okay going around corners and going up and down hills, before asking me if I felt comfortable. Then he let me loose to practice on my own while he helped the other lady. I was pretty proud of myself. The woman wound up riding in the tuk tuk.

It was pretty fun to ride the Vespa and I would like it in this kind of setting (minus the rain), but it was scary since I was the last in the group, behind Josh, and the very first intersection we came to, some stupid woman in an SUV cut right between me and Josh and I had to throw down my legs and slam on the brakes. That was about 2 minutes into the ride. Grrr...

We travelled to the top of the hills where you had a great view of the vineyards and Jacopo and Vito (who I think was in training) talked to us about Chiantis and how they make olive oil (extra virgin olive oil means it is the oil ONLY from the very first press of the olives). We took some photos and tasted some grapes, which were so delicious.

Then we proceeded into town to this little neighborhood grocery store. This was a very small authentic italian town - no english and few tourists, so it was nice. We tried some bread and cheese and continued on to the winery. At this point Josh decided to ride behind me and I was pretty glad - it was a longer route and it was through quite a bit of traffic. By the time we got to the winery where were to
No problemNo problemNo problem

I am left to practice on my own
get a winery tour and lunch, everyone was soaked and freezing. My shorts made me cold, but after a few minutes everyone was jealous because I was dry and they were all still wet.

Jacopo and Vito led us around the winery, explaining the processes on how to make wine and showing us the rooms for each staging area. They were pretty entertaining - popping up out of jars, making digs at each other, letting us sample some wine from the vats... It was a fun tour! Then we sat to lunch, which was nothing special but pretty good. We had some bread, a salad, and a couple of pastas. There were also two types of wine from the winery to try. I liked them. Josh was iffy.

When lunch was over, they had us outside in the rain under tents and told us we could decide to leave the vespas and return in the bus they brought or continue riding. I was done. One other girl who was riding on her husband's bike was also done, and the three women who didn't drive at all were all to be on the bus. Everyone else decided to brave

I actually really like the colors in the rain
it. But then the boss, Brian, came and said if the rain (which was pouring by then) didn't let up in 15 minutes, he wouldn't let us ride - it would be somewhat dangerous and wouldn't be any fun anyway. While we waited, a few people bought bottles of wine and we sat around and chatted with each other while having a glass. There were some very interesting people, including a couple from San Diego (she was a pilot) and the older couple from Anaheim. Everyone was very friendly.

Ultimately, it was decided to abandon the vespas and go by the vans. We (Gwosh and I) actually wound up in a shuttle with the wine tasting tour group - oh man it sounded like they had fun. There was one guy who told us that when he saw us heading for the vespa tour that morning, he joked that we were road kill and was happy to see us alive. The shuttle took us to get gelato - so our gelato tasting continues - and I got strawberry and chocolate, just like a chocolate covered strawberry: YUM! Then they dropped us off in Florence and our squishy day was at an end.

For dinner that night, we decided just to head across the street from our apartment to this little restaurant that looked very authentic. It really was, but maybe a little too much so! The service was iffy and the food was only ok. Though Josh's meat was by far the best and Gwen and I kept sampling it. I enjoyed it for the atmosphere though, especially the 80's music videos playing in the background!

Additional photos below
Photos: 41, Displayed: 27


Picking grapesPicking grapes
Picking grapes

they were actually quite delicious

29th September 2012

Great photos!
Hello Pookie It would appear that you and Gwosh are having a great time. Thanks for the blog post and the awesome pictures. I've never been to that part of the world, so it is fun to live vacariously through you. Are you planning to visit Ventura in the fall, winter or next spring? If so, let me know so we can coordinate travel plans. It would be great to see you! I hope all is well, buttercup!
30th September 2012

That looks like an amazing day with amazing people!! (:
2nd October 2012

Thanks you guys!
I'm glad you continue to read- I now have 80 blogs! WHOA! Pumpkin, I plan to visit Ventura sometime between Jan and Mar - it depends on a few different things... I'll let you know more soon.

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