What’s the Vespatour?
It’s the solo-journey riding my Vespa around Italy I did on august 2006.
Along the journey I discovered some of the most beautiful places and artworks of the Belpaese, filling cultural “gaps” along the way.
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
…and back to Como
Radio Interview @ New Generation – April 30, 2009
Text written to get ready for a radio interview about the Vespatour.
Hi Davide, to get started give us a brief wrap up of this journey.
Three years ago, at the beginning of august, I left Como on my Vespa, a GTS model I purchased a year earlier, and in about 30 days I traveled around Italy, stopping at 13 main spots and visiting places that, for most of them, I hadn’t ever seen before.
I went down to Bisceglie, in the province of Bari, stopping at Turin, Genoa, towns in Tuscany such as Lucca, Pisa, Florence and Siena. Then Assisi in Umbria, then Rome, Caserta and Bisceglie at last.
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 posting a series of photo galleries on the blog, 20 galleries for a total of one thousand pictures. This evening, together with you, we’ll talk about this bizarre journey, hoping to be able to give some good advice to listeners for the next holidays.
How did you get the idea of such a journey?
I’ve been inspired by Peter Moore’s book “Vroom with a view”, the australian travel writer who in 2001 came to Italy, purchased an historic Vespa on eBay and traveled from Milan to Rome.
When I read it I just got my Vespa, I loved the book a lot and I felt the need to make a journey like that! A longer one, actually, since I had the latest Vespa model, much more comfortable than Peters historical Vespa.
A Vespa Peter named Sophia, and that I unexpectedly “met” in Livorno, during the stops in Tuscany.
How did you get ready? Did you just left without thinking or did you plan all the details in advance?
Both! On one side I accurately planned the main stops, booking hostels in advance, on the other I improvised a lot, in order to have no constraints about where to go or what to visit.
During the months before the start of the journey it was funny asking friends about must-see things along the route. They called me mad, then started to recommend me places to visit or even friends I could bring their greetings to.
You started from Como, and after?
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 underdeveloped industry in Italy, a job you make with passion, that’s why the relationship with those friends lasted, and when we met we recalled the good old times of course.
In Turin and Genoa I visited the main monuments and museums of the two towns, listening to audio guides I rented along the way.
And after Genoa? Did you reconnect with friends in Tuscany also?
The stops in Tuscany were the most surprising in terms of new friends, actually, since I didn’t know anybody in that region.
From Genoa I went to Marina di Massa to see quarry caves and Colonnata, where the famous lard is produced. I discovered a curiosity 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 the Museo Piaggio is located, a sort of Mecca for Vespa riders, then Pisa to visit the Campo dei Miracoli and then Livorno, where I “met” Sophia, Peter Moore’s Vespa, safe in the workshop of Marco Quaretta, a Vespa collector and restorer.
After this historical Vespa-meeting, what places did you visit so that we can recommend them to our listeners?
I visited Vinci, where the native house of Leonardo is located, and Florence, where I got the Stendhal syndrome after visiting Uffizi Gallery for the first time. Did you ever visit it? Ever suffered from the syndrome?
I visited Florence using a videoguide and I received precious tips about the next stops from a girl who was working for the company producing the videoguide at the time.
I visited Monteriggioni, where she told me to look for “cats without tails”, then San Galgano Abbey, where you can find the sword stuck inside a rock.
In that area I even met three Vespa riders from the Mantua Vespa Club.
Then, on august 16, I went to Siena for the Palio: fantastic, words can’t describe the incredible atmosphere.
Just one warning: beware of “contradaioli” (locals living in Siena districts)!
That’s all for Tuscany?
After Siena I went to Cortona. I didn’t know what to do the next day, the 17, and some guys I met at the hostel told me that in Arezzo, not far from there, were shot the best scenes of the Benigni’s movie “Life is beautiful”.
So I went there and spent all the day in Arezzo.
Umbria, with Assisi and the Eremo of San Francesco. In front of the church there’s the knight with his head bowed, a symbol of humility. My lyceum literature teacher often talked about it.
After 2 days in Assisi I went to Melezzole di Montecchio. A very little town, stuck on a hilltop, but lively and full of juicy “sagre”.
Then I went to the Marmore falls, near Terni, really a must-see if you haven’t visited yet. It was impressive staring at the waters opening, since the flux is regularly stopped to power on an electric plant.
Then the eternal 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 side of the stop in Rome was an evening under the sign of great food in Ariccia, in the roman castles area. “Porchetta scrocchierella” and red wine in company of a friend Vespa rider from Como, who was in Rome those days, made the return 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 fountains system were wonderful. As a side note, they shot some scenes of Star Wars Episode I there.
Then Bisceglie, where I stayed with relatives, for some relaxing days at the seaside after 3000km riding a Vespa.
Nearby there’s Castel del Monte, a mystic place where they say the Holy Grail 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 child.
Recanati, near Ancona. There, where the house of the 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 period of time, so in my case the first part of the proverb holds.
When a dear Uncle viewed the photos I took, he told me “you viewed things you didn’t see in 30 years!”.
So, “To fill the gaps”, as my lyceum teacher used to say, since I hadn’t the chance to see masterpieces such as those in Uffizi or Vatican Museums until then.
Last but not least, there’s the “why not” factor, 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 Normandy coast… any tips are welcome since now!
Alone, if I’ll need to fill other gaps, or in company, who knows!