Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tuscany



Tuscany. One of Italy’s areas which is synony-mous for romance, food and wine. It’s not by accident that many a romantic movie has been filmed here. There is no denying that the beautiful landscapes and historic towns, dating back as far as the 1st century, make for a very special feel. The fresh produce available at local markets is amazing, as is the Chianti wine which is renowned world wide. Especially the Chianti Classico which, according to people that should know, is even better than the best wines France has to offer… I think we've just opened up a can of worms here… :-)

Anyway, let’s forget about the wine. Over-rated grape juice as far as we're concerned… Looking at a glass of wine Mike pictures a whole family squashing grapes with their feet in a big wooden tub… now we’ve really opened up a can of worms :-) Like I said forget the wine: what about Tuscany itself? Does it live up to the movie created hype? We're not sure… it's ok, it's actually quite nice, but… Romantic? Don't know. What we do know is that the roads for motorcyclists in Tuscany are pure heaven! If you like winding roads, mountain roads and plenty of them then it's definitely a great place to go. We sort of zig-zagged between the coast and the mountains and were rewarded with beauty after beauty!


The first day of our visit to Tuscany we had quite good weather, which in this part of the world means more than just a bit of sunshine and great views… On days like this the Italians bring out their Ducati, MV Augusta, Moto Guzzi, Moto Morini and let’s not forget the lovely old Vespas like you can see in the video on this page! Now we’re talking! Wine, what wine? Give me the thunder of a Ducati twin, mixed with the wailing scream of an MV on song and all served with a whiff of burned two-stroke oil! To enjoy all this in Tuscany means nothing more than riding a beautiful road and stop every now and then at a view point… the Italians do the rest!



It may not be the Alps but there are plenty of steep passes in Tuscany too, dotted with typical Italian mountain villages where everything is steep, narrow and winding. Simply finding a spot to park your bike can be a challenge and yet you want to as there is so much to see and photograph. The buildings are historic beauties where generations have lived and centuries of lust for living the good life is clearly visible.



Even though the weather wasn't that good when we were riding one of the mountain roads… to be honest it was such a downpour that we thought the wet season had started, we still had a great time. The Rukka suit and gloves and Alt-Berg boots proved, again, to be absolute waterproof. Avon tyres, being English, have plenty of grip in the wet allowing us to simply enjoy roads covered in wet autumn leaves. As we are camping, staying dry and warm (had I mentioned it was pretty cold in the mountains too?) is paramount to not only having fun but also keeping the rubber side down rather than testing the abrasion resistance of the helmet.



As good as the roads are here, it’s not only bikes in Tuscany. There are quite a few classic cars too. We don’t care much for Fiat Pandas and the like but a Jaguar E-type, Austin Healy, Ferrari or even Renault Alpine A110 is fine. There must have been a classic car rally as we saw plenty of them that day. On the other end of the spectrum we found the little Vespa Ape. They are everywhere in Italy. They might only have a small engine and tiny little wheels but can get to places where an ordinary car would be too wide. Seeing the little Ape going up narrow cobblestone streets and crawling up seemingly impossible inclines is a sight to see.


In Germany they have Beerfest, in France more than likely a Winefest, Holland should have a Cheesefest, Spain a Paellafest… so logic would have it that Italy has something like a Pizza or Pastafest? Maybe, but what they do have is a Chestnut Festival. The Chestnuts were everywhere. We were even riding on them as the roads were covered in squashed chestnuts too. There is an abundance of Chestnut trees in Tuscany, so every year in October there are Chestnut festivals. Chestnuts are used for decoration in arts and crafts but also taste quite good! People are gathering them everywhere you look.

Italian slug... the fastest slug in the world :-)
It doesn’t really matter where in Tuscany you go, there is a seemingly endless amount of beautiful vistas and historic villages. With a bit of luck with the weather you’ll find exotic machines on evenly exotic roads. Tuscany is one to put on your list of places to go to!








The next post will be about a famous town in Tuscany… 

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