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Exploring Tuscany by Scooter

Get away from the tourist traps in Italy and find some freedom by exploring Tuscany by Scooter like we did. Perfect for seeing the Italian countryside.

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Exploring Tuscany by Scooter

The blazing orange ball dips towards the horizon line. While bright yellow Sunflowers twist to catch the last rays of sunlight sweeping across the silent valley floor.

Rows and rows of perfectly parallel grapevines line the hills. Their branches hanging low still thick with the plump fruit that will be harvested in a few months time to create thirst quenching wine.

Tuscany Pictures, Tuscany wine grapes

The smell of freshly cut golden bales of hay lie freshly bound across empty fields.

And black ribbons of tarmac coated with sticky tar, melted from the summer sun, twist and turn between the Tuscan farms. Dipping in and out of sight, the roads seemingly go on forever.

Exploring Tuscany by Scooter

The silence is pierced only by a steady whine slowly building in the distance. It sounds like an entire beehive taking flight.

Bursting into the sunlight from around one of the twisting corners appears a single wheel attached to handlebars gripped by a pair of white-knuckled hands.

Two riders sit astride a sunflower yellow Vespa going hell for leather.

Urging the 100cc engine on, the driver gives another twist of the throttle. Leaning into the never-ending bends they sweep past the vineyards and sunflowers to disappear around a curve in the road.

Silence descends again on this remote Tuscan Valley.

Exploring Tuscany by Scooter

If you had looked closer before they whipped past, you would have seen a manic grin plastered across my helmeted face.

My chest gripped like a vice by Adela’s interlocking fingers. Her manic grin nearly wider than mine.

Scooter in Tuscany

Exploring Tuscany by Scooter

Earlier that day we had unleashed the motoring beast within and spent the day exploring Tuscany by Scooter. Our hired 100cc scooter giving us one of our best adventures to date.

Our route was wild and unplanned.

All we wanted was to stick to the back-roads and find the cutest towns possible.

Tuscany Village by Scooter, Tuscany Pictures

With a head full of ridiculously romantic visions and only 8 hours to take it all in we initially thought we had to move fast. That quickly changed as we cruised the empty roads.

Every bend revealed another sweeping vista with a village perched precariously on top of distant hills. The local town church spires guiding us to their coffee shops and sweet pastries.

Each of the villages only allowed access for local cars or motorbikes. And the usual hordes of tourists seemed to avoid them as they stuck to the main routes. Blissfully alone we zigzagged our scooter up narrow alleys before exploring deeper on foot.

Adela Tuscany by Scooter, Scooter in Tuscany

With recommendations from the locals in each town on where to go next we would blindly follow directions to find our next destination.

Places like La Porta di Kertine, an organic vineyard tucked off the beaten path.

The owner heard us puttering down the dusty gravel driveway and welcomed us with open arms. Even taking us on a tour of his vines. We were just sorry we could only fit one bottle of sweet Rose wine under our scooters seat.

Wine in Tuscany

Even getting caught in the middle of a summertime thunder storm didn’t give us reason to pause. Drenched to the bone we blasted on, quickly drying off when the torrential rained eased.

Wishing we could have stayed on the back of that yellow devil forever the light quickly faded as the sunset.

Sitting back with our bottle of Rose that evening we remembered the feeling of freedom and the beauty and emptiness around us. The perfect way to see a side of Italy and Tuscany that many don’t.

Scooter Tuscany Thunderstorm

Extra Travel Tips:

We stayed in Certaldo and can recommend the Fattoria Bassetto B&B and Hostel for travelling couples.

We rented our scooters in San Gimignano which is 35 km’s from Florence. Easily accessible by train or bus and worth a few hours of exploring separately.

You have 24 hours so it is worth picking up the scooter the night before. It means you can set off early the next day.

Don’t try to go too far. We only covered 140 km’s on our scooter and stopped often. Also make sure you keep an eye on the fuel gauge as there are not many gas stations around.

Stay safe, obey the speed limits and be careful on the winding roads. Italian drivers can be quite aggressive although we only saw a handful of cars all day.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Laurence

    September 12, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    Wow, that is an amazing bit of narrative to kick the post off! Nice work! I’ve always loved the theory of a scooter adventure, but am slightly terrified of falling off. Still.. it does look like fun though!

  2. Mike

    September 12, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Driving around the Tuscany with a scooter is really a cool idea. You would get to feel the relatively mild weather. Nice to know that we can rent easily accessible scooters at San Gimignano.

  3. Jess | GlobetrotterGirls

    September 12, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Love, love, love it! I didn’t expect to love Tuscany, thought it would be too cliche for me. But Dani was so excited, so we went. I love Tuscany, the same way I love Paris, too. I can see that it inspired you here, really got you writing awesome narrative, and I absolutely felt the same way. Tuscany is magical, and seeing it on a scooter must be amazing! We had a cherry red Fiat, so felt pretty Italian, too, while we were there 😉 Great story!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 4:42 PM

      I felt like that was one of my best posts actually and so visiting somewhere that inspires you definitely helps the writing flow! Awesome you rented a Red Fiat! Can just imagine you buzzing around everywhere haha.

  4. Candice

    September 12, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    This is a great idea, and looks like so much fun! I like that it was an unplanned trip directed by the locals. No so sure I would like to get stuck in the rain though!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 4:44 PM

      The rain was actually fine because it only lasted about 10 minutes. And luckily it was still warm. Even though we were in t-shirts 🙂

  5. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    September 12, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    When in Tuscany, scoot like the locals! Pity your yellow beast only had room for one bottle, however…

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      We have their card so might have to order some over here 😉

  6. bronwen burmester

    September 13, 2012 at 2:00 AM

    Loved San Gimignano – and have a nice black and red leather bag too from there! Had yummi8est pizzas there too, x

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 4:49 PM

      The towers were really cool! Maybe you need to snorkel along the Italian coast rather than the Pacific coast 🙂

  7. Brenda

    September 13, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    Would love to do that – sounds like so much fun

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 4:54 PM

      Definitely do it if you get the chance Brenda 😉

  8. D.J. - The World of Deej

    September 13, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    Awesome stuff, although I doubt MJ would trust me to operate a scooter:)

    • Cole Burmester

      September 14, 2012 at 3:40 PM

      Haha I asked Adela if she wanted to drive at all and she made it clear she was alright with me. Would be fun to get a bunch of people together and do it.

  9. Angela

    September 13, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    Italian drivers aggressive?? Ooops 😛 Looks like you’ve had a lovely trip, the best way to enjoy Tuscany’s countryside!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 14, 2012 at 3:40 PM

      I was glad it was country roads and not Rome! Might have been run over in any of the cities.

  10. Shamis @ Gawaya Travel Blog

    September 14, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    Thanks for the follow on Twitter. I like how this is written, Cole. Funny I was watching a program about Tuscany the other day. Scooter ride looks like a fun way to explore the city. Love the photos.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 14, 2012 at 3:43 PM

      Thanks Shamis. Definitely a good way to get around the countryside rather than with public transport.

  11. Ashley

    September 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    I LOVE your photos. I actually stayed in Fattoria Bassetto four years ago… such an amazing place! I definitely should’ve rented a scooter as well.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 16, 2012 at 5:45 PM

      Fattoria Bassetto such a nice spot. I bet the same Aussie guy was working there then! Hopefully you go back sometime and then you can rent a scooter 😉

  12. Lillie - @WorldLillie

    September 17, 2012 at 2:21 AM

    Awesome photos!!! I can feel the wind rushing through my hair 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      September 17, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      Cheers Lillie. Was such an easy post to write. Maybe because we enjoyed it so much!

  13. avaapollo

    September 17, 2012 at 4:07 AM

    Looks so beautiful!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 17, 2012 at 9:41 AM

      It truly was. Could have spent so many days exploring Tuscany by scooter. Need to go back I think.

  14. Diego

    September 21, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    Locally made wines in Tuscany taste really good. I’ve tried before in Tuscany how to make wines from the its harvest to its processing. I really wish I could go back there soon.

  15. Andy

    September 24, 2012 at 7:25 AM

    Awesome stuff guys! I had the exact same idea as i head to florence (from auckland NZ) next week with my partner. I really want to see tuscany on a scooter and am going to hire one from florence. Is there anything close to florence that you would recommend we see by scooter?
    Cheers
    Andy

  16. Pingback: Meet the Kiwi Bloggers: Four Jandals Adventure Travel Blog - Flashpacker Family - Family Travel Blog, Travel with Kids, Toddler Travel Tips

  17. Deepak

    March 12, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Hi. We are planning to go in first week June and while researching found your journal. Very encouraging! Curious to know which month did you travel in?

    • Cole Burmester

      March 18, 2013 at 9:13 AM

      Hey Deepak,
      We travelled in the middle of June and it was the perfect time of year. Nice and warm but not too busy with tourists. Beginning of June will be amazing! Enjoy and have safe travels.
      Cheers,
      Cole

  18. Brandon

    March 14, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    Great post! Do you remember the company you used to rent a scooter? My wife and I would love to do this.

    • Cole Burmester

      March 18, 2013 at 9:21 AM

      Thanks Brandon 🙂
      The company we used was called Bruno Bellini and they are located near the village of San Gimignano. Hope you manage to rent Scooters in Tuscany and go exploring! Such an amazing day out.

  19. Kelly Archidiacono

    July 23, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    I am curious to know the route that you took. This looks like an amazing adventure and I would love to do it. Is it easy to get lost or did you map out the route prior to starting your trip? Also, where there gas stations easily accessible?

    • Cole Burmester

      July 31, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      Thanks for your comment Kelly. We just picked a route around all the small villages within a 100km radius from San Gimignano then took off! I can’t remember the exact route but we stuck to the small back roads and found petrol stations along the way. Most towns are only about 10 – 20kms apart so it’s easy just to pick and choose as you go along. Sorry I can’t be more specific but sing out if you need anything.

  20. Dom

    August 16, 2013 at 4:10 AM

    Hi Cole, your trip looks so amazing, I am trying to book through Bruno Bellini and they are asking for credit card and personal details via an email and I’m just a little bit dubious as it is not the way that I normally make payments. Did you book in advance and if so did you have the same experience

    • Cole Burmester

      August 16, 2013 at 6:25 AM

      Hi Dom,
      Thanks for your question and reading the blog. We just booked it when we walked into their rental shop in the evening. We then had the bike for 24 hours so could use it that night and all the next day. Allowed us to get an early start the following day too.
      Good luck and enjoy it!
      Cheers,
      Cole

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Adventure Travel

Is It Safe to Be Outdoors During a Lightning Storm?

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When dealing with outdoor activities what’s better than just clear skies? Sunny weather, a breeze and warm but not too hot temperatures. If the said outdoor activity is being held within the day time, we hope for warm sunshine, and if the time of the activity deems to be in the darker hours, then the aspect of warm sunshine gets replaced with starry atmosphere.

Who doesn’t like the calm of the night and the seemingly scarce starry skies?

In either case, the wish for clear skies remains on that list no matter what. The reason for that is quite understandable: no one wants to be unexpectedly drenched in rain, covered in snow, or worse, struck by lightning.

While the first two experiences are essentially harmless and mostly welcomed in the name of adventure during travels, the third phenomenon can be fatal in most cases. Unfortunately, it is very plausible as well, since the United States itself experiences 100,000 thunderstorms on a yearly basis, around 10,000 of which are classified as severe.

That is why, most outdoor facilities that want to protect their inhabitants and patrons invest in a lightning detection system, which can warn them of upcoming lightning storms and threats.

Being Outdoors During a Thunderstorm is Not Advisable

With these measures being taken to protect lives against lightning storms, you may have already put two and two together to know that it is not safe to be outdoors during a lightning storm, no matter if you are camping by the lake or swimming by the beach during your vacation.

While you can just accept the fact of “being indoors during lightning” only because you are being told to do so, understanding the reasons behind it is what could provide you with the conviction to protect yourself and your loved ones during lightning storms at all costs – especially when the choice you have to make is between spending some more time outdoors at your travel destination or going back to your hotel room.

It Can Be Deadly

From 2007-2017, 328 people lost their lives to lightning strikes, all because they found themselves outdoors during an inopportune time. This is why, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whenever you find yourself amidst an approaching or already landed thunderstorm, it is best to find yourself a shelter to ride out the storm.

In fact, the CDC is so adamant over urging people to seek out any sort of shelter than trying to be adventurous about it that it advises people to get in their car if they cannot find a concrete covered shelter in order to minimize their risks of being struck by lightning.

Putting yourself outdoors during a lightning storm is akin to swimming on a beach that has put out a shark warning. While the deadly fish may or may not attack you, the possibility of it doing so is very apparent. If you do not heed to the warnings and dive into the ocean, and if the shark decides to pay you a visit, the end results would be nothing but severe.

Lightning Storms Are Not Always Detectable Without Help

However, lightning storms cannot always be detected by the human eye and we only often know about them when they are literally over our heads. That is why, the aforementioned lightning detection procedures are important from a safety perspective, as they can warn you about lightning threats in a timely manner and save you the hassle and worry of finding shelter during a thunderstorm.

Keeping this in mind, whenever you are travelling outdoors especially during the months of summer, try to find places that have efficient warning systems such as a lightning detector in place.

And if you find yourself in the midst of a lightning storm anyway:

Go inside.

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Adventure Travel

The Imperial Sand Dunes, an Exciting ATV Destination You Can Visit Within the U.S.

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Adventure travel has gradually become one of the most sought after segments of the travel and tourism industry. Why wouldn’t it be? Many people are cooped up in buildings all day poring over excel spreadsheets or going over reports. They want to have some adventure and a lot fun when they travel.

Who can pass a fun and adventurous trip up?

When it comes to adventure travel, not many things can beat ATV (all-terrain vehicle) destinations. The very thought of riding out four-wheelers powered by OEM ATV parts is exciting by itself, and once you actually experience riding an ATV through a sandy desert or a dense green forest, it is simply too enthralling to put into words.

But since not everyone has the luxury of time to travel internationally just to take an ATV ride, many of us miss out on that experience.

Fortunately, for those who are adventurous at heart but busy at life, there are a few ATV adventure destinations located right here in the U.S. At most, you would have to spare a weekend out of your busy schedule, and in return, experience the unmatched thrill that comes with an ATV spin.

And what other location could better demonstrate the best in weekend vacations and ATV rides than the famous Imperial Sand Dunes? While chances are that you must have heard about the area, you can read on for further information on what it can offer you in terms of adventure travel.

Imperial Sand Dunes

The Imperial Sand Dunes, located within the Algodones Dunes, is a large sand dune field that is located near the border that connects the U.S. state of Arizona and the Mexican state of Baja California.

The land is filled with golden sand as far as the eye could see, with the sand itself is sun-kissed and warm for anyone who travels through it. Fortunately, the soft waves of the sand can easily be swirled through an ATV, which is exactly the reason why people flock towards the Imperial Sand Dunes. They want to get a taste of the wild desert rides that the world keeps talking about. While you may have read about ATV mud tires and their off road control quality, taking ATVs for a spin into the desert would be an unmatched experience on its own.

As long as you maintain your decorum as explained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), you can enjoy the lands and the sights that they have to offer. You can also camp in the recreational area set aside by the BLM, so going there for a weekend and kicking back to relax while you dabble into ATV riding would be a great idea.

This chance to relax would also give you the opportunity to explore all that you can in person before you check out ATV and motorcycle components at a place like the Honda parts house for your future adventures.

All in all, by experiences provided to people in the past, the Imperial Sand Dunes proves that it has a lot to offer in terms of adventure travel. You just need to have proper planning done to make sure you get some extensive time with these sweet ATVs and the exciting desert backdrop, so you could have great memories of adventure to return home with.

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Adventure Travel

Where To Travel To On Your First Surf Holiday

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Since news broke that surfing would make its debut at the 2020 Olympics there has been a lot of interest in this surface water sport. Gone are the days when it was a sport reserved only for the weed smoking beach bums in their floral inspired board shorts. So, if you are feeling extra adventurous and would like to try surfing on your next vacation, we have rounded up the best destinations where you can ride your first wave.

Costa Rica

This populous Central American country is a surfers dream. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner you are bound to catch some neat waves that reach up to 12 feet in height. If you want to take a surfing holiday, Playa Tamarindo is one of the most popular beaches to surf in Costa Rica. Be careful though, as this beach can experience strong rip currents at low tide.

Tamarindo has two main breaks for advanced surfers: Pico Pequeño a rocky point to the right of the Hotel Tamarindo Diriá and the excellent river mouth break across from Cabinas Tsunami called El Estero. The rest of the beach breaks are perfect for beginners.

Nicaragua

South Western Nicaragua receives 300+ days offshore wind and constant southern swells which means that this country is a surfer’s dream. The entire pacific coastline in Nicaragua is peppered with amazing surf spots. From the The Boom in Northern Nicaragua to Popoyo in central Nicaragua and then all the way down to Playa Maderas in San Juan Del Sur.

Nicaragua has a wave for every level of surfer and with water temperatures averaging 27 degrees celsius, long surf sessions are always in order. There are plenty of surf camps dotted all over the country and because Nicaragua is still less developed than Costa Rica, prices are a lot lower than it’s southern neighbour. Don’t forget your surf equipment because you are bound to have a blast.

Portugal

Portugal isn’t just famous for it’s pastèis de natas, this European country also has some of the best surfing spots in the world. Super Tubos situated in Peniche, has been a favourite with locals and tourists alike. The break offers world-class surfing conditions with its hollow powerful waves, and is the site of the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal the World Surf League Men’s Championship Tour event.

The Algarve on Portugal’s southern coastline is famed for white sandy beaches and beach breaks. There are a number of great surf spots in the Alrgarve with Sagres being the epicentre of surfing in this region.

Morocco

Deep in the heart of North Africa there is a fishing vilage called Taghazout. Just north of Agadir. Which comes alive each winter with the sound of pounding pointbreaks and surf banter. It’s a beautiful place with a rich Arabic culture to add  to the magic.

Taghazout is surf, surf and surf.  Taghazout is the premium surfing destination of Morocco with some iconic surf spots, like Anchor Point. Since Anchor point was first put on the surf mpa in the 1970’s, Taghazout has steadily grown to become Morocco’s preeminent surfing destination.

Taghazout now has a plethora of great surf camps to choose from, and all of them mainly cater to beginner and intermediate surfers.

Bali

We had to keep the best for last, Bali has been on the top of travellers favourite destinations for a long time which doesn’t come as surprise. Bali has everything from sun, sea and surfing spots aplenty. Our top pick Kuta is if you are looking for a beach and resort area in the south of the island of Bali.

One of Bali’s first tourist developments, it’s best known for its party-centric atmosphere and surfing in the Indian Ocean. Kuta’s long, consistent waves make it a popular surf spot, particularly for beginners, with plenty of outfitters offering board rentals and surf lessons.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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