Vino, villas, le dolce vita … see the best of Italy on a Vespa!
Vespa is Italian for "wasp" and when you see these little machines buzzing in and out of city traffic and through the countryside, it's easy to understand how they got the name.
Combine a snappy Vespa with the beauty of Tuscany, another Italian classic, and you have la dolce vita.
Italy by Vespa is a company which makes it easy to be injected with the heart, soul and essence of Chianti. A week at the four-star Palazzo Leopoldo and scenic daytrips give memories to last forever. You will take in velvety hills, tiny walled towns from medieval times, endless vineyards and olive groves and as many photo opportunities as your camera can handle!
Palazzo Leopoldo is a restored 18th-century manor house in the hill town of Radda, right in the heart of Chianti. Views from its outdoor terrace and guest rooms get you ready for exploring and it provides typical Tuscan comfort to return to at the end of each day.
Feeling comfortable with your Vespa isn't hard. On your first evening, there is an orientation where you meet other guests (maximum of 16) and learn the safe operation of the scooter. Those with absolutely no experience can attend Rider Safety Training.
Near Villa a Sesta you come to Sonia Zacchei's cooking school. She is French, but serves and teaches true Tuscan-style cooking. Learn to create breads, sauces and pasta and then savour the results of your hard work.
Siena is a beautifully preserved town. It developed its own artistic style during the Renaissance. Some consider its Duomo to be Italy's most special.
Apart from its artistic attractions, the Wednesday outdoor markets are very colourful and a good place to watch the citizens of Siena. Merchants set up stalls selling everything from food and cookware to clothing and rugs. It's a good spot to buy a special piece of local pottery.
High on a hilltop in Chianti's south-west is the Castello di Cacchiano, dating to the 10th century. It was built by the Ricasoli Firidolfi family as a fort to protect Florence and its territories. It sits grandly at the end of a long, cypress-lined avenue and if you visit in autumn, Baron Viovanni Ricasoli is more than happy to have extra hands to harvest grapes and olives.
Catello di Cacchiano is a postcard of Tuscany come to life. The stone and stucco building frames a courtyard of old terracotta urns, tables and chairs under a vine-covered pergola and a pool created from an old sunken water cistern.
Sixty generations have lived there and 35 have produced wine, making it one of the oldest continuously-existing wineries in the world. There are wonderful old cellars housing bottles of their delicious wines and, to complete the picture, they also produce oil from their own groves.
Volpaia is a beautiful medieval village which provides the perfect setting for Bottega di Volpaia. Here you can enjoy a long, relaxing meal or a quick break for a snack and taste of local wine before continuing on. Gina and Carla, the restaurant cooks, give lessons in the fine art of local cooking in a really friendly atmosphere.
There is more on offer in Volpaia the village has interesting archways, walk-throughs and hidden squares.
Another trip is to a pecorino farm. Until recently, the name could be given to any cheese made in Tuscany with any amount of sheep's milk, but is now reserved for 100 percent sheep's milk cheese which is made only between September and June.
There are lots of other interesting diversions. You can see the making of Tuscan sausages, go fossicking for porcini mushrooms or even walk through a forest with a boar hunter.