Who can resist Italy in September? In the mood for long city saunters, shopping and sidewalk cafés? How about learning experiences that include actually participating in grape and olive harvests? What about taking scenic bike or Vespa tours through rolling hills? There’s never a shortage of things to do and some of the best weather of the year to enjoy them.
Let’s start with that quintessential of all Italian adventures: a Vespa tour, not in a city, where this mode of transportation is best left to the locals, but out in the gorgeous Tuscan countryside. One such tour company ScooterBella offers a fully guided four days/ three nights tour departing from Florence for 1,300 Euros [based upon six people with double occupancy accommodations.]
This tour picks you up in Florence and takes you via van about an hour outside the city to meet your Vespa guide. What can you expect to see on this fully guided tour? Well, here’s a sampling: Ride through the hill towns of Reitine, Castagnoli and San Martino in the heart of Chianti country dotted with medieval castles on the first day. Spend the night at the Villa Borgo Fontebussi. On the second day see the historic walled town of San Giovanni Val d’Arno, stop at a small co-op farm for a lunch which includes fresh veggies and organic wine produced onsite.
That afternoon’s ride back through the countryside provides the opportunity to stop at the Prada outlet store before returning to Fontebussi to relax by the pool and enjoy dinner in a 13th century wine cellar.
Can you get in on Vespa tours for less? Sure. Charnes Tours [charnestours.com] operates scooter tours out of Montevarchi or San Giovanni. These self-guided tours include Vespa rental and lodging at scenic area hotels starting at 280 euros per person based on double occupancy.
For even less, 90 Euros, Arianna and Friends offer Vespa day tours in the Pisan or Florence Hills. Both are areas known for their wine and their medieval villages. These tours start from the train station in Pontedera, which just happens to be home to the Vespa Museum. The Pontedera Station is about 15 minutes from Pisa’s Central Station and 45 minutes from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella Station.
For scooter tours you do not need a license to rent a 125 cc Vespa. However, you do need to be a competent scooter rider with some experience. These are rental companies not riding schools and they don’t want you to be a safety risk to yourself or others.
That said, maybe you would feel more at home on a bicycle and would prefer to tour the Tuscan hills via a cycle without a motor. If so, there is no shortage of tours available to you. For instance, Tuscany-biketours.com offers a one day ride through the Chianti wine region that includes wine and olive oil tasting as well as a stop at a 12th century medieval castle. These rides depart from Florence and cost 80 euros per person.
Tuscany provides beautiful scenery for bike and scooter tours, but you can find fully guided or self-guided two wheel tours throughout much of Italy. So, if you want a warmer clime even in September, why not head south and explore sites around Sicily. Companies such as biketoursdirect.com offer rides and accommodations on a self-guided seven-night bike tour through the southeastern part of Sicily for 645 Euros plus 85 Euros for a bike and helmet.
For around the same price you could choose from a number of other Italian locations offered by biketoursdirect.com. These include several choices of seven-day wheeling tours through the Apulia Region on Italy’s southeast coast. You could also pick from several Bolzano to Venice tour routes that begin with mountain scenery and end by pedaling along the Venice lagoon. Want to concentrate on food?
Their Piedmont tour is a great selection. And, if you’re in shape, roll on over the Dolomite Mountains by choosing their Dolomites to Lake Garda jaunt, Dolomites to Trieste or Dolomites to Venice route.
REI also has cycle tours of Italy with member and non-member rates. For example a seven-day bike tour of Tuscany is member priced at $3,499 and $3,875 for non-members. These prices as well as the other tour prices previously mentioned exclude airfare to Italy, but include accommodations, in this instance, and some meals.
Seeing Italy by bicycle or scooter can be a fun and liberating way to see the country out in the open rather than from the windows of a tour bus. If for you the journey is always as important as the destination, then these open-air tours are a special way to feel a more personal connection to whatever area you visit.
If you love the movies Roman Holiday or Rome Adventure, especially the Vespa scenes, you can have your own adventure on the back seat of a Vintage Vespa. Just log onto nerone.cc for a detailed list of Eternal City sites that you’d like to see and get a personalized quote back. You can even take a night tour. If you still prefer four wheels in a city setting, Nerone offers tours of Rome in a classic Fiat 500.