This post is written by our Guest Blogger: Jasmine Mah from Questa Dolce Vita. You can find out more about her Italian experiences right here
The first leg of the trip was not exactly ideal as we basically flew down the autostrada until we reached Florence. For those of you experienced on a motorcycle, highways are not fun- all your effort goes into keeping your head from whipping side-to-side in the wind, so much so that your neck starts killing you after the first fifteen minutes. You can barely look at your surroundings because the slightest deviation of your helmet from parallel to the acceleration of the bike results in bad news bears. Our first stop was for lunch on the Strada del Chianti. We devoured a panino made on the spot with fresh bread and freshly-cut mortadella with pistachios (my favourite), cruised a little more, and then took this shot that you see above, distinctly Tuscany wouldn't you say?
By this time, it was already getting to be late afternoon so we decided to take the obligatory gelato stop at San Gimignano (called the Manhattan of the Medieval times due to the abundance of towers). I had never been before, however had heard of it's famed gelateria located its main piazza after having read about it numerous times at Cows Ice Cream in Banff, Alberta. Most recently, the gelateria hasn't won back its coveted "best gelato in the world' title, but its claim to fame is the awards it won in 2006/2007 and 2008/2009.
A highly recommended pit-stop for anyone doing a tour of Tuscany, I enjoyed walking through the town as much as I enjoyed the gelato. We left about after an hour or so meandering up and down and around San Gimignano. The ride through the Tuscan countryside as the sun started setting was magical, honestly, you haven't lived until you've experienced these winding backroads through vineyards at dusk. The light is golden and it casts a spell on the entire Tuscan landscape, the air is warm and sweet, as only it can be during an Italian summer. I've tried to capture it for you in third photograph above, however, I think I've tried in vain.
We were making our way to Siena where we were to spend the night when we passed Colle Valle d'Elsa (pictured below) and were compelled to stop for dinner. It is a town much like Bergamo, albeit smaller, surrounded by medieval stone walls. It was here that we had a wonderful stroke of traveller's luck when we found ourselves walking through ancient underground passageways that eventually took us to dinner. Again, definitely worth a stop if you're in the area. There's also an insanely quaint restaurant atop the gates leading into the city, although we opted to venture inside the walls for our meal of pizza and beer. Another 30 minutes later, our heads were hitting the pillows in a camping site just outside of Siena, in total and utter exhaustion (being a bit virginal at this touring on a motorcycle thing!). And so concluded our first day on the road, on our way to Abruzzo.