Under the Tuscan Sun 2017 by Geoffrey Smith

May 25th, 2017

Pre-Ride

Just finished three days in Florence before the start of the ride. Not sure how I missed this city as I have been through a lot of Italy over the years but so be it. It’s easy to understand why people wax poetic; it is a visual feast no matter where you are (or what you’re eating). Made it through the Uffizi Gallery and my art appreciation level went up a few notches. The Cathedral with its incredible dome amazed and the Pitti Palace with its opulent rooms that never seemed to end overwhelmed the senses, but it was finally seeing Michelangelo’s David in reality (instead of a photograph) that made much of what I saw pale in comparison. Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

This alone was worth the trip. The Bardini gardens and the Boboli gardens showed off Mother Nature in a beautiful setting with the rooftops of Florence in the background and it was so pleasant to just walk and walk and walk and be removed from the car culture of Los Angeles. Stayed in a great hotel with a beautiful patio garden which allowed the cocktail hour to be totally civilized.

The contrast between these towns that had been there over six centuries and the modern world that exists within proved that human nature has not changed that much, only the technology.

Day 1

Rode up into the hill town of Fiesole, which is totally charming and filled with large and elegant villas that dot the hillsides. A small, family run hotel was our meeting point and there, in all their glory, were Claus and Axel, the Abbott and Costello, Ying and Yang, or Oil and Water of motorcycle tour guides. Their genuine warmth of personality never fails to set a welcoming tone and it was great to see them once again. The other riders, or “The Gang of 4” as I called them, arrived a bit later and we were set to go! Dinner in a local restaurant (more pasta!) and a few (?) bottles of a Vino Nobile set the tone. Great start!

Day 2 & 3

A misty morning greeted us but no rain so off we went, heading for Pisa. Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

A two-way road no wider than a small car was the start of the day. RW quickly learned that a narrow road does not necessarily mean it is a one-way street! Near miss!! We had to get on the Autostrade for a bit and the Gang of 4 somehow managed to NOT take a ticket, which caused a bit of an issue when we got off the highway and came to the tollbooth but Axel poured on the Tyrolean charm and somehow all was forgiven. In Pisa, the tower still leans,Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

no more or no less, but the setting of it with the cathedral and other buildings nearby was worth seeing.Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

Then to the coast and we headed south for about half an hour. It was beach club after beach club after beach club so I now know how the Italians spend their summers! We turned inland and the real riding began! Wonderful two lane roads that twisted their way through the Italian hills, up, down, and around, through little hill towns that had sat there for centuries. Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

The Gang of 4 somehow managed to NOT take a ticket, which caused a bit of an issue when we got off the highway and came to the tollbooth but Axel poured on the Tyrolean charm and somehow all was forgiven.

On either side of us, vineyards or groves of olive trees draped themselves on the rolling hills as we rode along, the morning mist giving way to billowing clouds and bright sun. Lunch on a grapevine-covered patio in Lari,Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

then VolterraUnder the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

with its buildings that go back to Etruscan times and it’s amazing view over the Tuscan landscape Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

and then San Gimignano with its many stone towers that reached for the heavens.Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey SmithUnder the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

The contrast between these towns that had been there over six centuries and the modern world that exists within proved that human nature has not changed that much, only the technology. Our destination that day was Siena, which was a pretty spectacular end to a great day of riding! An evening walk to the restaurant through the narrow streets was a nice introduction to this remarkable hill town and “The Adventures of life with Axel” provided the evening’s entertainment. The next day I spent just ambling around this very special place. While all the hill towns have their own identities, Siena is just special and so worth a visit. Claus, forever the teacher, gave us our history lesson too! Dinner the next night in a local eatery was a nice end to absorbing the charm of this special place.Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey SmithUnder the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey SmithUnder the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey SmithUnder the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

I was hoping that Claus, being a good German, would be sufficiently embarrassed by a German bike potentially failing that he would figure out what was wrong immediately…and he did.

Day 4

An easy start, or so it seemed, to the day’s ride. First stop, a gas station. Got off my bike, looked down, and there was a small but steady stream of oil slowly creating a small lake on the cement under the engine. First reaction, small heart attack. Second reaction, yell “Claus, Axel”! I was hoping that Claus, being a good German, would be sufficiently embarrassed by a German bike potentially failing that he would figure out what was wrong immediately…and he did.Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

A loose oil filter was the culprit so after a delay of about 15 minutes we were back on the road. I have no idea how Axel and Claus found the roads we ended up on and it starts to become redundant to say that the riding was spectacular, but it was.Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

Lunch was in the town square of Radicofani, a tiny hill town that had been there for probably 700 or 800 years.Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

The constant contrast between these towns where life seems to have slowed to a crawl but then reading the headlines of the world news at the same time made for an internal conflict of wondering what century I really wanted to be in!! We finished the day in Lago di Bolsena. A glass of wine on the shore of the lake Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

and dinner Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

while watching the sun set. Life is definitely good!!

Day 5 & 6

Assisi via Orvieto,Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

TodiUnder the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

and ENDLESS mountain roads just proved again that this region is a biker’s dream come true. After lunch in Todi, it was about three hours of twisties and sweeps. Spectacular riding, just spectacular and virtually no traffic!! These roads were invented for motorcycles. We arrived in Assisi Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

and crashed early. I think the adrenalin rush of such great riding did us all in. The next day was spent exploring this amazing city and while I had been here before, a second visit did not diminish the beauty of this special place.Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

We seemed to have beaten the influx of tourists so the streets were fairly empty and the basilica of St. Francis was a quiet and peaceful place.Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey SmithUnder the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

An absolutely superb dinner at a restaurant that Axel knew about was a great finish to the day. I think we made a dent in the wine cellar!

Day 7

We head for the Adriatic. Today was just as great as the previous days in terms of riding. We stopped for lunch at a place that Axel, yet again, knew about and swore had the best spaghetti carbonara in all of Italy. He was right. We all ordered it and a platter of food the size of Rhode Island arrived.Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

I think I managed a portion of Newport. We managed to get through about 20% of it. Why we didn’t all fall asleep on the bikes afterwards, I don’t know. We rode onward and a 40km stretch of road between Urbania and Urbino just about finished us off in terms of if it had been the last piece of road to ride on this trip, that would have been fine.

Perfect surface, perfect curves, perfect everything, and then we arrived at Gabbice Mare in time to have a drink on the terrace of the hotel and gaze out over the Adriatic. Pretty nice finish!Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

Tomorrow we head back to our starting point of the trip. Bummer!

Spectacular riding, just spectacular and virtually no traffic!! These roads were invented for motorcycles.

Last Day of riding

I always find the last day of riding a bit depressing knowing that the escape from reality for a week or so is about to end. But with bright sun, billowing clouds, and the hills of Tuscany a perfect green, we headed back to Fiesole. Suffice it to say that Axel and Claus did not disappoint us.Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

As were the preceding days, this was a day of wonderful riding on wonderful roads with wonderful weather! An espresso stop (mandatory) in San Leo sent us back in time.Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey SmithUnder the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

Also, a stop in the mountains at the LaVerna Sanctuary was a peaceful interlude in the early afternoon and was indeed a special place.Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith

Perched in a dense forest, 800 years of history and faith centering on St. Francis welcomed individuals from all over the world. Huge trees seemed to wrap around us and time stood still for an hour. We rode on to Fiesole and arrived at our hotel all in one piece in time for a cold beer and then dinner in the town. All very mellow, a great finish to the ride.

Outta here

Breakfast finished, the Gang of Four headed out with just about everyone facing very long trips home, but I headed for the Dolomites and another 3 days of riding in one of the most dramatic spots on the planet.Under the Tuscan Sun Motorcycle Tour in Italy, Blog post by Geoffrey Smith Not about to stop now!!

2017-09-07T12:15:12+00:00
  • Ricardo Serpa

    Great photos and text!

  • John Jesson

    Thanks Ricardo :) This was written by Geoffrey Smith.

  • Ricardo Serpa

    I saw it, John, and Geoffrey has done a great ride report. It seems like they really had a blast in Tuscany!