What’s the Vespatour?
It’s the solo-journey around Italy on a Vespa I did in august 2006.
A journey that made me discover some of the most beautiful places and pieces of art of the Belpaese, filling cultural and personal “gaps” on the go.
Ingredients for an Extraordinary Journey:
- 1 Mad Guy
- 1 Vespa GTS 250
- 1 GPS Navigator
- 1 Month
- 13 Stops
- Some gasoline
- Few Euros
- Marina di Massa
- Tavarnelle Val di Pesa
- Melezzole di Montecchio
- Back to Como
Radio Interview @ New Generation – April 30, 2009
Text written to get ready for the radio interview about the Vespatour.
Hi Davide, to get started give us a brief summary of this journey.
Three years ago, at the beginning of august, I left Como on my Vespa, a GTS model I purchased a year before, and in about 30 days I traveled around Italy, making 13 main stops and visiting places that, for the most of them, I hadn’t seen before.
I went up to Bari, passing by Turin, Genoa, some towns in Tuscany such as Lucca, Pisa, Florence and Siena, then to Assisi in Umbria, then Rome, Caserta, until I got to Bisceglie, near Bari.
The journey back home was faster, a couple of days along adriatic coast with one last stop in Recanati.
After almost 3 years I finished telling the journey by publishing a series of photo galleries on the blog, 20 galleries for a total of a thousand pictures. This evening, together with you, we can talk about this bizarre journey, hoping to be able to give some good advice to listeners for their next holidays.
Where did you get the idea of such a journey?
I’ve been inspired by Peter Moore’s book “Vroom with a view”, an aussie travel writer who in 2001 came to Italy, purchased an historic Vespa on eBay and traveled from Milan to Rome with it.
When I read it I just got my Vespa, I loved the book a lot and I felt the irresistible urge to make a journey like that! A longer one, actually, since I had a recent Vespa model, much more comfortable than Peter Moore’s historic Vespa.
A Vespa Peter gave the name Sophia, and I had the unexpected chance to “live meet” her in Livorno, during the stops in Tuscany.
How did you get ready? You just left without thinking or planned all the details in advance?
Both! On one side I fixed days and stops, booking hostels for the nights in advance, on the other side I improvvised a lot, thus to have no constraints about where to go or what to visit.
During the months before the beginning of the journey it was funny asking friends about must-see things along the route. They called me mad, then started to recommend places to visit or even friends I could bring their greetings to.
You started from Como, then?
The first stops were in Milan, Turin and Genoa. Three stops where I had the chance to meet friends I worked with in the past in Rapallo, near Genoa. We developed videogames, an industry so underdeveloped in Italy, a job you make with great passion, that’s why the relationship with those friends lasted, and when we met we recalled old times of course.
In Turin and Genoa I visited the main monuments and museums of the two towns, listening to audio guides I found along the way.
And after Genoa? Even in Tuscany did you reconnect with friends?
The stops in Tuscany were the most generous in terms of new friends. I didn’t know anybody in the area, actually.
From Genoa I reached Marina di Massa to see quarry caves and Colonnata, where there’s the famous lard. I discovered a little treasure there: the “cioccolardini”, chocolates made with Colonnata’s lard!
From Marina di Massa I went to Lucca, a town I liked a lot.
I spent three days in Lucca so that I could visit Pontedera, where Museo Piaggio is located, a sort of Mecca for Vespa fans, then Pisa to visit the Campo dei Miracoli and then Livorno, where I “met” Sophia, Peter Moore’s Vespa, at safe in Marco Quaretta’s workshop, a Vespa collector and restorer.
After this Vespa-meeting, what did you visit so to recommend it to our listeners?
I visited Vinci, home town of Leonardo, and Florence, where I got the Stendhal syndrome after visiting Uffizi Gallery for the first time. Did you ever visit it? Ever suffered the syndrome?
I visited Florence with a videoguide, Arianna, and I received precious tips about the next stops from a girl who was working for the company producing Arianna at the times.
I visited Monteriggioni, where she told me to look for “cats without tails”, then San Galgano Abbey, where you can find the sword inside a rock.
In that area I even met three Vespa fans from Vespa Club Mantua.
Then on august 16 I’ve been in Siena for the Palio: fantastic, words can’t describe the incredible athmosphere.
Just one warning: beware of “contradaioli”!
End of Tuscany?
After Siena I went to a hostel in Cortona. I didn’t know what I would have done the next day and some guys I met at the hostel recalled me that in Arezzo, not far from there, were shot the best scenes of the movie “La vita è bella” by Benigni.
So I went and spent all the day there.
Umbria, with Assisi and the Eremo of San Francesco. In front of the church there’s the knight with the bowed head, a symbol of humility, of which my lyceum literature teacher often talked about.
After 2 days in Assisi I went to Melezzole di Montecchio, in a bed&breakfast. A very little town, stuck over a hill, but lively and full of juicy “sagre”.
Then I went to the Marmore falls, near Terni, really a must-see if you haven’t got the chance till now. It was impressing looking at the opening of the water, since it’s regularly stopped to power an electric plant.
Then the ethernal city, Rome, a classic!
Yes, all roads lead to Rome! During the three days I spent in Rome I visited the main monuments, the Vatican Museums in particular: there are no words to describe the Sistine Chapel.
The fun part of the stop in Rome was an evening under the sign of good food in Ariccia, in the roman castles area. “Porchetta scrocchierella” and red wine together with a friend from Como, who was in Rome those days, made the return trip to the hostel a bit problematic…
Other surprises after Rome?
After Rome, the Royal Palace of Caserta was a great surprise. The royal apartments and the 3km long garden with its foutain system were wonderful. As a side note, they shot some scenes of Episode I there.
Then Bisceglie, where I stayed with relatives, for some days of relax at seaside after 3000km riding a Vespa.
Nearby there’s Castel del Monte, a mystic place where they say the graal was hidden for some time. Castel del Monte is depicted on the 1 cent italian euro coins.
Then San Giovanni Rotondo and the Gargano area, Vieste in particular, where I learned to swim when I was a kid.
Recanati, near Ancona. There, where the house of poet Leopardi and the National Center of Studi Leopardiani are located, I discovered that the hedge of the infinity really does exist.
Simply magic. A place where I thought about the whole journey.
Why did you do such a journey alone? What are the reasons?
I recall an african proverb: if you want to travel fast, travel alone, but if you want to go far, travel with company.
I wanted to see many things in a short time, so in this case the first part of the proverb was true.
When a dear Uncle saw the photos I shot he told me “you saw things you didn’t see in 30 years!”.
“To fill the gaps”, as my lyceum teacher used to say (the same one as before). From different points of view, however!
From a cultural one, since I hadn’t ever got the chance to see masterpieces such those at Uffizi or Vatican Museums before, and fro6m a sentimental one, since a love story with a girl just ended and I needed to stay alone.
After all, isn’t love that makes the world move, as you’re used to say?
Last but not least, there’s the “why not” factor, the one that.. if you catch an opportunity you don’t know what to expect, but it will probably bring you where you can’t even imagine.
I’d like to visit France, since there are places I’d like to see such as Lyon, Paris, Versailles, the beatches of the D-Day in Normandy… give me some tips, please!
Alone, if I’ll need to “fill other gaps”, or in good company, who knows!