With Victoria serviced it was time to leave Pisa and do some exploring . People speak so fondly of touring Tuscany , so I thought not to be influenced by others I would do the same but on a Vespa . I could not let the opportunity pass , to have your own ride to tour Tuscany was just too good to be true , so into the world of sunshine and wine we rode , heading South again , we set our sights on Siena with a few stops on the way .
I had set no specific destination , I thought that Siena could be a good start , we took the country roads , with the clean autumn air putting some life back into these riding limbs , we toured , passing through the famous San Gimignano , San Gimi in short for those who have lost their pronunciation ability due to much of that Tuscan red that so robes many a tourist of their newly acquired Italian phrases , anesthetising tongue and mind . Although San Gimignano , is the trap that trumps all tourist traps , still it is a delight to walk and absorb this charming well preserved piece of Tuscany . You can see I have not succumbed to the temptation of the Tuscan sangiovese grape, espresso for me , two wheels and wine put you in the vines . I left around lunch time to make my way to Siena to try and find a place for the night as well as early enough to explore .
As I rode out of San Gimignano I noticed rows and rows of what I would refer to as the men in black . Very well dressed drivers sitting or standing close to their equally pristine black luxury cars , waiting for their tipsy Tuscan tourists to emerge from lunch , belly’ s satisfied to the point of an ache and rosy red cheeks the colour of the vine that helped them pass Tuscan time . Tuscany as I would realise while riding is full of these black cars , driven by smooth Armani styled suits , with the rear seat full of smiles or a head slumped to the side as the passenger dreams of Tuscany while being ferried home.
I passed through small villages , most of which seemed to have been removed from the map in the figurative sense , forgotten in time , but not by the tourists seeking a piece of Tuscan life , be it only momentarily with the photographs being the proof as the fly through .
We arrived in Siena , quickly found a place for the night , and off I set to walk the streets with what remained of the afternoon . As the afternoon passed so did the strength in my walking legs and my ability to hustle the bustle . I had seen a fantastic deli while touring , so I made my way back to stock up on some dinner items and some fresh produce for breakfast and took a hour walk through the streets back to camp Victoria.
After a fantastic home made dinner and some laundry it was off to bed , tomorrow we would tour a little deeper and further into rural Tuscany . My sleep disturbed by a French couple arriving in the middle of the night , these camper homes don’t allow for much to go un noticed or heard . The French are known for their passion and flair and tonight was going to be no exception , true to form they kept the camper in motion , with passion leaving them deaf and uninhibited to the world around them . Then the rain came in , I rushed out to save the clothing , no luck though . The next morning my alarm clock the French rockers again , so I packed , had breakfast while I put my now wet clothes in the drier . fed with warm dry clothes packed we left , while the French slept , exhausted or sea sick from all the motion , I could not tell for all was quiet on the western front . You might wonder how I knew they were French , like I said , the divide in the single trailer we shared allowed the deaf to hear , every word heard .
The ride down to Montalcino was ravishingly beautiful with more than half the ride being off road in and amongst the vines , it was an incredible experience . I have always been a fan of the wines produced in this area , but not having my man in black , Vic and I just enjoyed the open road , the beautiful vines and the colours of autumn , stopping for the odd coffee and a stretch . My mind saying , to this place I must return , with purpose , a man in black and my tasting palate primed .
From here it was down to Pienza , another magical town , not as infested as the others by the Tuscan tours , quaint and cool . Here we filled up and headed down to Montepulciano , wishing for another dust cut through the vineyards , like the better part of our day had been .
We settled for the night in the town of Arezzo , for the next day I had to trace the ride back through Florence , Pisa and then on to the Italian “Rivera” , the coastal road that would take me all the way to Cannes , Grasse and the up to Lyon. It was going to be long days in the saddle , we had 5 days to get across into the South of France and then up to Lyon , where I was meeting a good friend for a trans Africa celebratory lunch and our annual catch up .
After breakfast we took on the road to the coast , while riding I came across this barber shop in the middle of a very small town , I thought it a great idea to enjoy the precision of an Italian barber , so we spent an hour together not understanding each other at all , while I watched as his scissors , clippers and arms ran my hair to the ground . My only distraction from the flamboyant movement and discussion that filled the shop were the numerous nudes that decorated his establishment in the form of calendar’s , no longer current in terms of day or year , but current in terms of the breasts and bodies that helped take your mind off the day , the cutting and the slowness of life here in the country . Shorn , shaken and smoothed out , we shook hands , exchanged currency and smiles and Vic and I rode once more , my mind full of days , dates and of years long gone .
The riding slow , but a wonderful way to impose your eyes on Italian life , the rain would stop the ride an hour or two before I had planned . Tomorrow was another day , time to stay dry . We just made it under cover before the ocean brought the clouds laden with a down pour that would have left us drowned if we had been caught with no place to hide , the strong ocean wind lashing the sheets of water like a rag doll , I watched from my hotel room as the rain bucketed down , dry warm and thankful.
Tomorrow we ride for France .
Until we meet again.