As this incredible adventure abroad begins to come to an end, I wanted to take the time to reflect on some of my favorite experiences. One of the most incredible days in Italy was in Mid-October when I took a Vespa and Winery tour through Tuscany and the Chianti region.
I knew the second I arrived in Rome last August and saw that nearly every Italian really did drive a Vespa, that I would clearly have to ride one. My Lizzie McGuire dreams were finally realized when a friend and I found a tour group that gave us the opportunity to ride a Vespa, have a wine tasting in Chianti, and of course see a little bit more of the beautiful region that we live in!
The day finally arrived and we met our tour group at the train station at the crack of dawn. From there they drove us about an hour outside of Florence to a garage, where we got to choose our Vespas and were tested on our driving skills. The first try around track was a rough one, those tiny scooters have quite a lot more kick than you would expect! After everyone had their helmets securely fastened and multiple insurance waivers signed five times, we *scooted* off to enjoy vineyard after vineyard on the incredible rolling hills of the countryside.
In mid October, most of the vineyards have already been harvested in Tuscany. Many of the vines we drove by were already dying, but they created the most gorgeous autumn orange colors that popped out against the greenery of their surroundings. Olive harvester’s machines buzzed at us as we zoomed by them, shaking the Olive trees violently. The weather was perfect. Warm, with just the right amount of crispy cool to keep you awake. There was just something so magical about being outside. It was so different from any other driving experience I had ever had before. I felt so much more connected to the landscape around me, it was real and bright and alive. I never knew that a thin layer of glass created that much distance before.
On our tour we stopped in two tiny Tuscan towns. Castellina in Chianti was the first one we stopped at, right before the winery. This teeny town had a tiny Castle dating back from the middle ages. There were many clothing boutiques and a colorful open air flea market along the main street. When you walked past the buildings, you could see the Tuscan hills rolling on around you for miles. After the winery we visited Monteriggioni, an old army town from the middle ages that it still surrounded by fortress walls and high towers. Here we were greeted with many craft and artisan shops, a huge serving of black cherry gelato, and a friendly, fat cat who liked eating the raisins we had brought as a snack.
For lunch, we visited the Poggio Amorelli Vineyard, where we received tour of their facilities. Our host graciously showed us the winemaking process and explained how the wine is stored in special barrels, and how certain types of wood make huge differences in the flavor. We were also taught how to properly smell, observe and taste wine, and got to taste a few of their best wines over a lunch of bruschetta, pasta, crostini, and cantuccini that they made and dressed with their freshly pressed Olive Oil.
When traveling from place to place we were able to explore quiet, scenic routes on our Vespas. With wide open space all around, cool autumn air, good food, good friends, and the most beautiful landscape, my heart was filled with joy .