If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that yesterday was my last day in Italy. And it was quite possibly one of the greatest days of my life! My friend Anna surprised me with a day in the countryside that fulfilled not one, but two of my life-long dreams: 1) drive a Vespa, and 2) frolic through a field of sunflowers!
This summer has been full of incredible days and amazing adventures (Berlin, Switzerland, Venice, Rome, and The Amalfi Coast), but yesterday will hold a special place in my heart because I got to live two of my Italian fantasies.
As you know, my friend Anna runs a student travel agency in Florence (Florence for Fun). When she heard about my Italian bucket list, she called a partner company she works with – Fun in Tuscany – and arranged for us to spend the day zipping through the Tuscan countryside. Fun in Tuscany specializes in offering travelers truly unique and Tuscan experiences. You ride horses, vespas, or four wheelers through incredible scenery, visit quaint medieval hilltop towns, and dine in authentic Tuscan farmhouses.
Naturally, we started our day with driving lessons. Full disclosure, I have never driven any sort of motorcycle or scooter and I am not great at riding a bike, so…
After my first couple attempts around the track, I think everyone was a little afraid I wasn’t going to get it (quick tip: turning is all in the hips, not the arms!). But not to worry I eventually caught on and we were zipping down winding country roads in no time.
I guess Anna had mentioned my sunflower fantasy to our amazing guide Issam when she arranged the tour, because within the first fifteen minutes of our drive to the Medieval town of Certaldo (fun fact – the town Boccaccio is from) we “stumbled” upon an incredible field of sunflowers!
The weather was actually a little gloomy when we started our ride, but as we frolicked amongst the sunflowers (and the bees, so many bees!), the sky cleared and we got to appreciate just how beautiful the Tuscan landscape really is.
Tuscany is always beautiful, but there are some days that are just spectacular and you really get to appreciate that amazing Tuscan light everybody talks about, which makes the sky seem bluer, the flowers more colorful, and the grape vines greener.
After an intense sunflower photo session, we scooted our way to Certaldo and then to San Gimignano, where we sampled the world champion of gelatos. I tried the blackberry and lavender, and it was buonissimo (Italian for really freaking good)!
That’s San Gimignano in the background. They call it the Medieval Manhattan because of all the medieval towers that remain.
As we soon learned, however, vespa-ing, sightseeing, and sunflower frolicking are quite exhausting and by mid-afternoon we had retired to an adorable farmhouse that overlooked medieval Manhattan (aka San Gimignano) for several courses of traditional Tuscan food and wine… lots of wine!
The end of July and beginning of August is prime sunflower-field-frolicking season in Tuscany. If you ever find yourself visiting Florence (or even Rome, it’s just an hour and a half away by train) you really should make it a point to venture into the countryside, especially this time of year. Sadly, most tourists simply drive through the countryside in a bus or car and never really get to experience Tuscany.
It really was the perfect way to end an amazing three months in Italy! I will definitely miss it, but thank goodness I will be back in just five short months!
PS – Not only was our guide Issam great at teaching us to ride and leading us around, he was also a really great photographer. He went to great lengths to make sure we got the perfect photos, and I think we did!