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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

Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos

These are my favourite Camino de Santiago Photos from my pilgrimage along the French Way in March. A truly beautiful way to spend a few weeks.

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Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.

To be honest, I was relieved.

The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.

Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

Puenta La Reina Bridge – Camino de Santiago Arrows

There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.

Church of Obanos

The Church of Obanos

And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.

The French Way - Camino de Santiago

The French Way – Camino de Santiago Photos

Puenta La Reina

Puenta La Reina in the evening

Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.

Puenta la Reina Bridge and Sunrise

Puenta la Reina Bridge at sunrise

Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!

Church of Santa Maria - Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria in Los Arcos

While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.

The endless French Way

The endless French Way

Irache Wine Fountain - Fuente del Vino

The free flowing Irache Wine Fountain or “Fuente del Vino”

Hay bales along the French Way

Hay bales along the French Way

Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.

Ermita de San Miguel

Ermita de San Miguel

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian with both independent planning and a vacation planner. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.

Natural arches - Camino de Santiago

Natural arches on the Camino de Santiago

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Adventure Travel

Hammock vs Tent Camping

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Camping with a hammock is slowly but surely becoming more popular in recent years with new and improved hammock designs being preferred by some campers, compared to the traditional tent.

In this article we will discuss some of the key benefits and drawbacks of sleeping without a tent, and analyze key criteria so that you can choose your preferred shelter choice!

Weatherproof

Most tents work well in the rain; however, you’ll need to bring a tarp if you’re using a hammock. Traditional hammocks are not waterproof, and are generally open at the top, allowing water to find itself inside if you don’t have an adequate tarp. Moreover, a decent under quilt is also a good idea so that you can stay warm and cozy during cold and stormy nights.

Packing up your hammock after a long night of rain isn’t too bad, whereas packing up a soaking wet tent is always annoying. You almost always get wet in the process.

Setup

For first time campers, pop-up tents are the simplest to setup. All you need to do is find flat ground, and bam, your setup is complete! The beauty of pop-up tents is that you don’t need to worry about figuring out where to insert the poles and erect the tent. Although, traditional tents are usually more robust, and have a longer life span.

Essentially, a tent is simple, but a hammock can become a little more complicated for first timers. You’ll need to find 2 trees facing a good direction and tie each end of the hammock to them. If your hammock setup is too tight, you will generally wake up with sore ancles, but if it’s too loose, you run the risk of the hammock touching the floor, and insects crawling in with you.

If your campground doesn’t have many trees, or if the trees are dead (they could break and injure you), hammock stands come to the rescue! Basically, hammock stands allow you to pitch a hammock if there are no trees nearby. They are portable, adjustable, and are easy to setup. The only drawback is that the ground should be relatively flat, whereas if you were to hang a hammock between 2 trees, there won’t be any stands touching the ground, so a rocky floor wouldn’t be a problem.

Comfort

One of the main reasons for choosing a hammock is the comfort that it provides you! It has a basically has in-built seat which is arguably more comfortable than a standard blow up mattress. You need to pick your tree’s wisely though! You don’t want a pinecone falling on your face mid-sleep.

If you have constant back pain and find it hard to sleep inside tents, you should give hammocks a try as they cause you to sleep sideways, similar to a banana shape, which a lot people find much more comfortable.

Price

Hammocks are usually lighter and don’t include a wealth of poles and gear that tents do. Depending on the type of hammock that you purchase, they are usually quite similar to tents. You can however, find very cheap tents <$60, but they most likely won’t last long.

A good tent or hammock can cost between $200-500 without accessories. If you need a hammock stand, that will add to your cost, just like a mattress and other tent necessities will to its cost.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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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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