Friday, January 31, 2014

Crazy plans

At the end of May I will find myself in the Tuscan hills, just a tad to the south of the midieval walled city of Lucca.  Forty kilometers due south is Pontedera.  It's an industrial manufacturing centre dominated by a massive factory complex.  No tourist in her right mind would go there.

But... there are three considerations at play that tip the balance in Pontedera's favour, if only for a tourist with a peculiar bent.  Like me.

The sprawling plant sits on Viale Rinaldo Piaggio, so-named for the founder of Piaggio & Co. SpA, an aircraft manufacturer that re-invented itself in post-war Italy by giving the world the iconic Vespa.  My Vespa came from that plant.

That's consideration number one.

Consideration number two, is that Piaggio offers a museum largely, though not entirely, devoted to Vespas.  That museum is a major draw for Vespa owners all over the world.

The third consideration is that there is at least one outfit in Pontedera where you can rent a Vespa for the day.

Picture exploring the museum, maybe picking up some Vespa swag in the museum shop, then setting off on a modern Vespa to explore the environs, going roughly north and west, following the banks of the river Arno, to Pisa and its eponymous tower.

Mark Twain did a grand tour of Europe, the Middle East and Egypt in the late nineteenth century that he documented in Innocents Abroad, which incidentally is free and can be downloaded to an e-reader.  If you haven't read it, I encourage you to.  You won't regret it for a moment.  It's delightful fun from cover to cover.  In a long rant complaining about the never-ending attribution of all Italian art forms to Michelangelo, he took a pot shot at the tower.
"In Pisa he designed every thing but the old shot-tower, and they would have attributed that to him if it had not been so awfully out of the perpendicular".
From Pisa, you can continue northwest for another 30-40 kms until you hit the Italian riviera.  One could toodle along there, heading up the coast, grab some lunch at an outdoor venue with a view of the Mediterranean, and then loop back to the east and towards the south, through the olive groves and hills of Tuscany, before dropping off the bike in Pontedera.

There is much to ponder, plot and plan before this little escapade transits from fantasy to reality.  But... it could happen.


Unknown said...


I think you've also got me daydreaming too. I can nearly imagine what it looks like there

yes, more dreams on a snowy, cold day . . .

Riding the Wet Coast

Dar said...

Wow i think I want to go along, it sounds heavenly.

SonjaM said...

This is also something we dreamt about when returning to Europe. Although we are hoping that (weather permitting) we will be able to take our own Vespas down to explore Tuscany. Loving the plan!

Trobairitz said...


Don't forget to take your silk scarf and practice you 'Ciao!"

Oh, and your camera so you can supply us with a lot of picture and we can all live vicariously through you.

Walter Cronenburg said...

I rode a Suzuki GSX750F to Lucca in May a few years back, staying at a self-catering villa up in Barga up in the mountains. A beautiful area. Shopping was a bit of a drag but I managed to get up the slopes OK with the bags. There's some fantastic little stone bridges all around there and some great biking roads to discover. Piza was fun but got tiring with all the tourists. Overall, a good value trip. This year, I'm trying a different part of Italy, totally away from all the crowds and traffic and great biking roads too but I can't say where yet!

David Masse said...

Bob, Andrew told me it was sunny and nice out yesterday. Don't tell me he's telling stories and stretchers to entice us to visit him. Maybe it's a trap.

David Masse said...

Dar, I encourage all types of lunacy. Another moto/blogger buddy is (or recently was) in Italy a little further south though. I'm really enjoying his blog posts. Nice and quirky, and he's a serious photographer and has taken some wicked nice pictures. You can get there by clicking here.

David Masse said...

Sonja, like I said, ponder ponder, plot plot, plan plan, and who knows, dreams can come true.

David Masse said...

Trobairitz, that reminds me, I've wanted a white silk scarf for the longest time. I thought they were unobtainable since the late 1920's.

I found them!! In solid white or black, two sizes, pure silk, under $30... Aerostitch!!!

David Masse said...

Walter, welcome to the Scootcommute!

I so hope I can pull this off. We're travelling as a family, so the tricky part is negotiating a day to myself to indulge my moto dream. I think it's doable.

I'll be going armed with my SLR and GoPro, a RAM clamp and GoPro suction mount, and a length of paracord to make sure nothing falls off.

It could be epic.

VStar Lady said...

David, I can't see why one would call it crazy. Making any plan for any vacation anywhere (especially when it involves a warmer clime) sounds fabulous to me. Ciao. I'm looking forward to the photo show.

David Masse said...

Karen, it's crazy because there's a certain risk in attempting to carve out "me" time that my family may see a little dimly, and it's crazy because there's the chance that some unnamed bloggers who might be in the neighborhood might join in. So the stakes are high, and it requires some finesse that might discourage the faint of heart.

As for the overall vacation, it's going to be the ultimate dream vacation of a lifetime, and that's no exaggeration.

Our three kids are joining us along with our sons' girlfriends. How magic is that? I don't think the stars will align for that twice in a lifetime.

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

David, I can't wait. Our planned trip to Lake Como long ago, a 'Guzzi Factory visit, a couple of weeks of riding and then a shipment home almost happened, just not quite.

Ready when you are!

David Masse said...

Ha! Coop the rendez-vous, assuming all the ducks line up (and it's looking better and better) is Pontedera, at the Museo Piaggio, at opening time, date TBD but 17th to 22nd May.

I assume you're kidding.

But you are welcome, of course.

Walter Cronenburg said...

The paracord thing is always a good idea when it comes to expensive things just asking to work their way loose and hitting the deck. It wouldn't be too bad if a sat-nav or camera bounced but there's always a lorry following behind you to finish the job off!

David Masse said...

Walter, I was a Boy Scout a lifetime ago. 'Be prepared' is still my mantra. All you need is a little paracord tether and you can free you mind with regard to what your GoPro or point-and-shoot camera are up to.

Particularly on a rental bike, I'll be relying either on a RAM clamp or the GoPro suction mount.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.