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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. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

Tips for Planning Your Uluru Tour

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Located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the magnificent sandstone of Ayers Rock or Uluru stands tall at 1,142 feet above ground. The natural formation is widely known for being one of the most sacred places to the indigineous peoples in Australia. At the same time, it is also popular for attracting tourists from all over the world to the land down under.

If you want to visit Uluru in order to pay tribute to this wonder of nature, then doing so through the right tour is in your best interest. It’s not only because Uluru is located at least a few hours from civilization, but it also because such a tour allows you to enjoy the picturesque sights that come along the way within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

So what sights are there to see along the way and what other general tours suggestions you should keep in mind while visiting Uluru? To help you answer these and some other important questions, here are 5 top tips to keep in mind while visiting Uluru.

Don’t Climb the Monolith

First things first, while it is legal to climb atop Uluru, it is recommended that you do not attempt such an action in order to show your respect to the indigenous peoples.

It is a pretty easy rule to follow when you pay attention to the emotions of the indigenous tribes who have recommended time and again for people to not climb Uluru.

But that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the natural beauty that Uluru has to offer. In fact, you are encouraged to visit the sandstone and take in its natural glory by standing right beside the formation. That’s why 4WD tour is highly recommended. The tour guides would be able to tell you what you can and can not do.

Visit During Sunset

Ask anyone who has visited Uluru about the best time to see the formation, and you will instantly get the answer as “sunset.”

It’s because Uluru is not an ordinary monolith, but one that is formed through arkosic sandstone. This allows the rock to actually change its color according to the position of the sun. As a result, you can expect the formation to sport a different color depending upon what time of day you reach it.

At sunset, Uluru projects an amber glow that is surreal to take in, especially when you are seeing the formation in person for the very first time. That’s why, it is recommended that you time your trip in a way that allows you to experience this magnificent sight.

3. Take Your Time to Plan the Trip

Perhaps the best way to visit Uluru is through the nearby town of Alice Springs, which has various amenities and accommodation options for tourists who are making their way to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru can take around 5 hours, which is why it is recommended that you arrive at least a day before you are planning to tour Uluru.

This way, you can reach the national park while feeling fresh and rested. This also gives you time to plan longer trips to the park in order to enjoy all that it has to offer.

4. Take in the Sight of the Rock Art

Uluru is not just a wonder to look at by itself, but it also holds several little pieces of wonderful art within it.

The caves at the bottom of the formation hold several pieces of rock art that can only be found at Uluru. If you love learning about other cultures through their art, then this will be a must visit.

Just make sure that you take the time to learn about this art through a local tour guide or via the information provided within these exhibits. This ensures that you have an immersive and informative experience which you can remember for a long time.

5. Don’t Forget the Natural Attractions Around the Rock

Enjoying the breathtaking sight of Uluru sounds rewarding enough for a trip to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. But it’s not all that you can do during a tour of Uluru.

From seeing the red kangaroos and other marsupials to spending some time with the camels, and from seeing the one of a kind formations of Kata Tjuta to taking a walk by the Valley of the Winds, there’s so much to see and do around Uluru.

That is why, it is recommended that you take your time at the park and put aside at least two days to enjoy all of the unique activities that the area has to offer. It would give you a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life while also allowing you to make the most out of your long journey to the sandstone.

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Adventure Travel

Best Time to Visit Panama and Costa Rica

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The fact that Costa Rica and Panama are close makes both countries perfect for visiting. During your holiday there, it’s easy to travel back and forth between the two countries and enjoy all the wonders they have to offer. Keep in mind that the timing of your holiday will influence what sorts of sites you can visit and what activities you can make part of your plans. By understanding a little about what to expect, it’s easy to determine the best time of year to visit both countries, based on what you would like to do.

Learning More About the Dry and Rainy Seasons

If you’re the type who prefers the hustle and bustle that comes with holidays during the tourist season, plan on being in Costa Rica and Panama during what’s known as the dry season. Expect plenty of sunshine and warm weather during this part of the year. Many of your activities will be outdoors, although you will find a number of indoor sites that you will want to include in your plans.

The dry seasons in both countries overlap. The dry weather for both typically arrives during the first to the middle part of December. In Costa Rica, the dry season usually lingers until sometime in April. Panama enjoys a slightly shorter dry season, with it usually ending sometime in March.

Keep in mind that since this dry period is the height of the tourist season, the cost of visiting from December to April will be higher than at other times of the year. Even so, if your plans include spending a lot of time exploring the rain forests or soaking in the rays on one or more of the beautiful beaches, the dry season is the only time to consider.

Making the Most of the Dry Seasons

During the dry season in both nations, do expect the weather to be more humid and the day temperatures to be a little higher. There is some variance depending on which regions you plan on visiting. As a general rule, locations nearer the coast will include warmer weather and higher levels of humidity. By contrast, the more mountainous areas will offer slightly cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels.

During this time, do plan on enjoying the lush greenery found in the rain forests. During much of the dry season, the abundance of rain from what’s known as the rainy or green season ensures that the forests are at their best. Consider adding some variety to your holiday by spending time at the beach, soaking in the nightlife along the coast, and doing some shopping at many of the open air districts. This is also the perfect timing to enjoy some of the local cuisine while dining outside.

There are special events to celebrate during the dry season. President’s Day in Costa Rica occurs during this period. Along with locals, you can enjoy a number of celebrations, open-air festivals, and just about any type of entertainment that one can imagine.

Since the dry season does attract more tourists, it pays to book your lodgings in advance. Along with President’s Day, there’s also spring break and the Easter Season to consider. While you could look at different hotels and other properties near beaches, there are also hostels that make perfect places to sleep. After all, how much time do you plan on spending indoors when there’s so much to do?

Things to Do During the Rainy Seasons

In spite of the name, it isn’t always raining during the rainy or green season. Most days, there will be brief periods of sunshine that do allow you to spend some time at the beach and other outdoor venues. Do expect the evenings to be cooler. At times, the temperature may make wearing long sleeves or possibly a sweater a good idea.

Even if you’re out and about while it’s raining, there are plenty of things to see. Towns and cities in both nations offer indoor concerts, a number of restaurants catering to all sorts of tastes, and clubs and other settings for entertainment. You will find museums that will tell you more about the history of indigenous peoples and the complexity of their cultures.

What are some of the activities you can enjoy during this time of year? Both Costa Rica and Panama offer options to go horseback riding. Generally, this will happen during the morning when the sun is most likely to be out. Walking tours are also a great way to learn more about the culture and possibly find some interesting places that you will want to return to a little later. Don’t overlook the opportunity to get in some fishing when there’s a sunny morning coming your way. There are changes to engage in freshwater fishing as well as charter boats that will take you to some of the better places to enjoy salt-water fishing.

Coffee and rum tours are also something to consider during the rainy season. These tours allow you the opportunity to see different facilities and how they produce their products. As a bonus, you get to enjoy some taste-testing at many of the places that you visit along the tour. Some of the sites will also have bistros or restaurants included, allowing you to enjoy a nice meal or snack with your coffee or rum.

In terms of museums to visit, San Jose offers some of the most interesting museums in Costa Rica. Many of them are located in or adjacent to what’s known as the Central Market. It’s a great way to enjoy time indoors during the rainy afternoons and early evenings.

In Panama, check out the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo. You can make use of headphones that offer the guided tour in multiple languages. If you happen to be proficient in Spanish, feel free to check out each exhibit on your own. You can also check out the Biodiversity Museum, which features exhibits on the over 1,000 species of animals and plants that are found in the country. Make the most of the discounts offered on Sundays. Retirees also get to enjoy discounts when visiting these museums.

Which season is the best time to visit Costa Rica and Panama? It’s really up to you. For those who prefer a slower pace and don’t mind rain during the afternoons and evenings, the raining season is ideal. Those who thrive on activity, sunshine, and plenty of tourist activities will enjoy going during the dry season. Whatever your choice, plan on coming back a second time. It’s rare for anyone to see everything they want to see during a single holiday.

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Adventure Travel

Most Underrated Travel Destinations

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Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities. 

A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting. 

Here are a few of them:

Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare. 

Telč, Czechia

Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country. 

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.

Lagos, Nigeria

If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.

Con Dao, Vietnam

Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau. 

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.

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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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