Monday, November 16, 2009

Scooting in Tuscany

When in Rome ... I mean Siena.
I'm a little bit out of sequence with this posting as we were in Italy we decided we had to hire a scooter and where better that Siena in Tuscany. I hired a newish red Vespa 125LX (I think!). Being Italy, the hire company was pretty casual about the whole thing -

"Do you have a licence?"
"Yes, I've got a..."
"That's fine."

This was the first time I'd ever ridden a modern scooter and I must admit I always felt I was forgetting to do something (err, that would be change gears). I did appreciate the additional power of the engine and all the modern conveniences, but it wasn't quite the 'Roman Holiday' experience I was expecting.

Firstly - Italian traffic. Scary! Although I must admit they don't pull out in front of you like Australian drivers do.

Secondly - Italian roads. Scary. Tuscany is renown for its weaving hilly roads; it's part of the regions charm, but the backroads were often a little dicey with large cracks in the tarmack that seemed designed to throw a scooter off its teeny tiny wheels. There were a couple of incidents where I felt the road conditions were really dangerous.

Thirdly - the Vespa became quite uncomfortable to ride after a couple of hours. I wasn't the only one to think this. Shelly was riding pillion and was very very uncomfortable. We were quite relieved when we parked the Vespa for the last time and got to stretch our legs.

That all said it was good fun and we got to scoot around some lovely countryside and up and down little medieval alleys and had a generally good time. Shelly even got to take the scooter for a spin around a carpark and quite enjoyed it. But if comes to long distance riding - I'll never ride a Vespa across the Nullabor!

So, is it dangerous to ride a scooter or bike in Italy I hear you ask? The Duomo in Siena has a special shrine for people who have recovered from accidents or bad luck. They often leave a symbol of their misfortune at the shrine. What do you think?

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