I love Italy. Let’s just get that out in the open. Italy offers such unparalleled variety in the way of enchanting experiences. But, for me, Florence has always been outranked by Venice or by Rome. I’ve never been seduced by Florence as I have by other Italian superstars. Consider the pleasures of Positano or of Umbrian Orvieto, for example. Of Varenna or Civita di Bagno Reggio. But Florence? Well, it’s just never held the same allure for me. That is, until recently, when I rented a Vespa in Florence.
Don’t Get Me Wrong!
I remember my first trip to Venice, Florence, and Rome vividly. I was studying “the awful German Language” (as Mark Twain endearingly called it) in college in the late 90s. During one of our breaks, we headed south. My classmates and I toured Italy in a big fifty-five-seater bus. It was bellísima! I fell in love with Venice and Rome immediately.
Stef in Venice
Don’t get me wrong! I enjoyed Florence too. It just wasn’t love at first sight. I like Florence. A lot. Florence is worth visiting! But you know when you tell a lover, “it’s not you — it’s me?” Well, that’s what I’d been telling Florence all these years. We just didn’t have the chemistry.
All of this changed last summer, though, when my pent-up feelings of Florentine indifference swiftly evaporated. What provoked in me this sudden about-face? I suppose the title might have given you a little clue.
Vespa in Florence – Wheels Spun, Sparks Flew
So now what? Well, an exciting new chapter in our relationship has emerged. Florence and I — we’ve rekindled our romance. Or rather, a romance has blossomed where none previously existed. Here’s how it all went down.
Rooftops of Florence
While assisting on a Rick Steves’ tour as part of my job, I found myself back in the birthplace of the Renaissance, yet again. Not only that, but I had time off in between tours to enjoy Firenze as I pleased. I’d just finished traveling with stellar tour guide and fellow-blogger, Sarah Murdoch, on a Rick Steves’ family tour that ended in Florence. With two days to spare before I needed to be in Amsterdam, I had to make a game plan.
A suggestion of Sarah’s caught my attention. If you know me, you know I have this thing about Vespas. So when Sarah uttered the words “Vespa,” “tour,” and “Florence” all in the same sentence, I was hooked! Why hadn’t this brilliant idea occurred to me before?
Florence Vespa Tour Details
Based on Sarah’s recommendation, I went to the “My Tour” tour operator located at Via de’ Martelli, 33r — just a two-minute walk from the Duomo.
The tour I signed up for – from Florence to Fiesole and back – isn’t listed on their website (as far as I could see). So they may have even more of an offering if you visit the shop locally. If you’re planning to sign up in person, be sure to do so at least a day before the planned outing, and have your credit card and driver’s license handy.
Also, be prepared for a test drive! They’ll check your mad Vespa-driving skills beforehand to make sure you can actually handle the thing! If not, I was told you’d have the option of riding with one of their drivers.
I passed the driving test! Yay!
If I remember correctly, the cost of my tour was 75 Euros and it lasted about two-and-a-half hours. I lucked out as it ended up being a private tour for me! (Apparently, no one else had signed up that particular morning! Score!)
And what else do I have to say about it? Firstly, it was SO MUCH FUN! Wheels spun, and sparks flew! There’s just something about riding a Vespa in Italy that is not only exhilarating, but makes you feel like a temporary local as well! And while I’m not sure I’d have the guts to ride one in Rome, the route we took in Florence felt completely manageable.
Keep Cool and Ride a Vespa!
Also, although it was HOT with highs in the 90s, zipping around on a Vespa turned out to be perfect for keeping cool that morning. With wispy winds flowing through my helmet, I was able to take in the gorgeous scenery and briefly visit a brand new destination for me: the pleasant town of Fiesole, where Mark Twain apparently also spent some time — minus the Vespa! (Sorry you missed out on an excellent experience, Mr. Twain!)
So, did my Vespa adventure single-handedly ignite my newfound passion for Florence? It sure did. It triggered a magical high, sprinkling stardust on my remaining days in Florence. So are you still wondering if you should rent a Vespa in Florence?
Hopefully, the next time you’re in Florence, you won’t miss out like Mr. Twain! Pop on over to www.postcardsfromstef.com for more great tips, including these other things you definitely should not miss in Florence. Ciao for now!