While staying in Tuscany, we decided that a tour with Tuscany Vespa Tours would be a fun way to see more of the beautiful Tuscan countryside, including a wine tasting and delicious lunch.
We booked the tour online in advance. The tour originated in Florence, but we were staying south of there in San Gimignano, so because we had a car, we were able to arrange to meet them at the real start point, Castello di Poppiano.
Castello di Poppiano is a lovely winery and also makes their own olive oil.
Soon after we arrived at the Castello, the tour group arrived from Florence and we got introduced to our guide for the winery, Angus. Angus took us into the Castello and showed us through the cellars explaining along the way the process for making Chianti wine.
We also we able to see some of the olive oil production facility that they have. Then we were led up the stairs to the roof of the Castello Tower which gave us the most spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. We were so lucky, we had great weather for our visit.
After climbing back down from the tower, past old aging barrels of wine stored there, we gathered in a lovely big room to sample the wine and olive oil.
While Angus talked to us about the wine and oil, we all were able to taste a lovely half glass of their Chianti and snack on fresh bread drizzled with their lovely olive oil.
The wine was lovely, Chianti is obviously quite different from the wines we had tried while at the Tenuta Cocci Grifoni Winery we visited in the Marche Region of Italy. You can read more about that outing here.
The olive oil was amazing. Castello di Poppiano is part of the Laudemio Consortium. The Laudemio Consortium was formed about 30 years ago by 21 independent historical olive oil estates to regulate and produce the best olive oil. So it’s no wonder that it tasted so good!
As we tasted, we enjoyed more scenic views from the Castello windows. Then Angus led us all down to the shop, via the beautiful Castello courtyard, where we were able to buy the wine and olive oil if we wished. I jumped at the chance to buy the oil, as I had planned to bring some back anyway, so this was the perfect place to buy it.
After finishing our winery tour, Angus took us to meet our other guide, Jason, and we were all fitted with our helmets and given water bottles for our Vespa ride (which we got to keep). We then all bundled into the tour van, and drove a short distance to the Vespa pick up area.
Here we were allocated our Vespa mopeds, and we were all able to have a little practice around the parking area, with a little more instruction and practice for those who had never ridden before. I had ridden a moped in my college years, but that was over 25 years ago, so at first I felt a little rusty, but then it all came back to me.
Once ready we were split into groups of about 8, and off we went following our guide, Jason. Most of the roads we were on were fairly quiet country roads, so other traffic wasn’t a big worry, and Jason kept a good eye on us all. We drove a while though the beautiful Tuscan countryside, then stopped at a scenic point to take a break, stretch our legs and take photographs. If you look closely you can see our little traveling monkey, called Mick, sitting on my Vespa. He travels with us and even has his own Instagram page @mickthemonkey.
We then continued on for a few more miles and stopped for lunch at a lovely restaurant with a comfortable sitting area where we sat outside but under a shade canopy. We were able to enjoy a lovely meal, of bruschetta and salad, followed by pasta, and then Panna Cotta for dessert. As well as plenty of water and wine, though I definitely just had a small glass of wine as I knew there was more Vespa riding to come! It was a nice chance to get to know some of the other people on our tour as we chatted over the delicious food. Afterwards I realized that I hadn’t taken note of the name of the restaurant! Oops.
We all jumped back on our mopeds, and set off again through more beautiful countryside. Most of us were riding our own mopeds, but one couple has signed up to ride together as tandem, but the husband wasn’t very confident driving with two, so for part of the way our guide Jason took an extra rider on his Vespa.
We made one last stop by a lovely old Olive tree grove, were Jason talked more about the area and the olive trees. Apparently the age of the tree affects the taste of the oil it produces and on average a tree can grow to be 500 years old. However, they can grow older, many documented to be between 1,500 and 2,000 years old!
After our last stop, we rode back to our starting point to drop of the mopeds. We then went back to Castello di Poppiano in the tour van with our guide, where we returned our helmets. By now it was mid afternoon and from here, the usual tour was heading back to Florence, so we said our goodbyes.
We drove back to San Gimignano where we were staying in a lovely Airbnb just outside the town, called Maggie’s Million Dollar View.
We really enjoyed our day with Tuscany Vespa Tours, my husband even said it was the highlight of our trip for him. It was a great experience, we never felt rushed, and I would highly recommend it. Also, if you don’t feel confident enough to ride a Vespa, they do a bicycle version of the tour too.
Date of visit: June 2019