We woke up to another early morning knock on Saturday morning. The consolation to our sunrise wake up calls was the delicious breakfast that we indulged in every morning. Let’s be honest, we could get used to this kind of breakfast very quickly. Green smoothies?! Pshhhh, ain’t nobody got time for that.
Our standard breakfast fare was an espresso for Ben, a spremuta or a cappuccino for me, and then we’d share a pastry (or two!). If there were mini pizzas, they had Ben’s name written all over them.
After a quick breakfast, we headed back to Pisa to pick up our vespas for the day. It’s funny because in the U.S., they make you sign about 38962 waivers if you rent anything motorized. Then you usually have to sit through a training, and afterwards are affixed with an ankle monitoring device to make sure you don’t wander too far (okay, so maybe not that).
In Italy, that’s so not the case. We gave them our cards, they handed us the keys, and told us to be back in 24 hours.
For having such a laid back way of life, the Italians sure do take their driving to the next level. First off, their streets are narrow. And let’s just say our fellow motorists did not appreciate our efforts to take it slowly while we got used to our trendy little scooters. It was a pretty white knuckle initial 20 minutes on those things.
The boys got used to them pretty quickly though, and we were cruising in no time. Talk about wind in your hair guys. It was SO FUN. There’s something extremely liberating about cruising around on a bike like that (although Ben asked me if it made me change my mind about him get a motorcycle one day and I said absolutely NO).
Our first stop was the town of Lucca. This is a small Tuscan town where we explored our first church in Italy. It was absolutely beautiful, and we were blown away by the architecture and intricate art. Little did we know, this was the smallest and most modest church we’d be seeing on our trip.
We walked around Lucca for a bit, grabbed an espresso (of course), and then headed on to the actual hills of Tuscany.
This was the part of our trip that was literally out of a movie. Close your eyes and imagine what cruising through the Tuscan hills on a vespa is like… IT WAS EXACTLY LIKE THAT! I mean, picture perfect, rolling hills, green everywhere, adorable little Tuscan houses, fruit and olive trees abound, winding roads…. You can pinch yourself as many times as you’d like, this is one dream that you just won’t wake up from (not that you’d WANT to).
When we got hungry, the day only got more surreal. We pulled up to this small home style restaurant, where an old man was outside watering his flowers (yes, for real). My brother went to ask him if they were open, and he said they didn’t open until 7. Unsatisfied with this answer, Tizzy went to ask again, and two minutes later, he was happily seating us on the back patio 🙂 .
This restaurant was completely empty (as they didn’t open for dinner for a while), but they still served us an ENTIRE meal. Oh my gosh, just thinking about how incredible it was makes me want to cry. We probably looked around throughout the meal 1000 times and just asked, IS THIS REAL LIFE?!
They brought us their local house wine (BEST wine we had), along with fresh cut bread. Then we ordered bruschetta, panzanella, fries with herbs and fried sage, white beans with sage an rosemary, and pappardelle pasta with a simple red sauce.
Oh and Ben consumed almost an entire bottle of olive oil (this actually became a regular thing for him).
Both the panzanella and white beans are very traditional Tuscan dishes. We quickly learned throughout the trip what an experience in itself it was to eat regionally. You could always tell that they’d perfected the dish, and sourced the ingredients locally. My brother schooled us regularly on this stuff and it was awesome :).
Life completed. Everything was so fresh, so delicate, and SO flavorful. I could’ve taken a bath in that pasta. It was pure perfection.
We finished it off with espresso (of course), and this incredible apricot tarte.
Extremely stuffed, we hoisted ourselves back on the vespas and continued to explore. We really had no idea where we were going. Tizzy was mildly keeping an eye on how far away we were wandering from Pisa (through Google Maps), but for the most part, we just chose a road and followed it for as long as we could. It was a plan without a plan, and I don’t think we would’ve done anything different.
Eventually, we decided to make our way back in the right direction, and stop at a little watering hole to cool off before heading back to Pisa.
After a solid 10 hours of riding in the hot Tuscan sun, we were completely worn out, and had another early morning ahead of us, so we drove home and passed out.
We’d just closed our eyes, and cue the 7am knock on Sunday. We grabbed a quick breakfast and headed out the door. We had about an hour drive to get to the port, where we’d be taking a ferry to the island of Elba. The ferry was amazing, and after a 45 minute ride, we were dropped on the island (SO beautiful) where we took a taxi down to the beach to rent a boat.
Let’s start by saying we didn’t even KNOW there were islands like this in Italy. It was a crazy mix between Italian and island vibes, with tons of greenery and little houses dotting the hills.
We stopped at the market to pick up some fresh fruit. Ben (as usual) got SO excited by the mountains of fresh produce, and the woman selling it thought he was absolutely hysterical. She couldn’t stop laughing at him taking pictures.
The boat rental process was again, stupid easy. They quickly went over how to work the boat, loaded us on, and told us to be back by 6.
Holy HEAVEN. The four of us, a mountain of fruit, and a bottle of prosecco. It was like being a kid again. We explored the island, found little coves to swim in, tanned on the boat, cruised around… There were no rules, no expectations, and absolutely nowhere we needed to be.
After a few hours we got hungry, so we dragged our boat up onto the beach (yes, this was as sketchy and strange as it sounds) and walked up to the restaurant that was about 100 feet from the shore. If you look closely at the beach picture, you can see our little boat on the beach. Notice that it’s the ONLY one on there…
AGAIN, we were treated with insane pasta dishes, to die for sides, and yummy yummy wine. Their house made tagliolini pasta was just… perfection. The noodles were thick and chewy, and they were perfectly coated in sauce (we had red sauce and pesto). That’s one thing we began to notice about the Italian cuisine, they don’t overload their pasta with sauce, it’s just enough to coat the pasta, and that’s honestly all you need.
Once we finished lunch, we realized we now needed to figure out how to get our boat back in the ocean. Let’s just say we should’ve charged admission to watch the show that it ended up being. Picture a mash up of medieval style battle cries and the hottest mess you’ve ever seen. Somehow we miraculously managed to maneuver the boat into the sea, and spent the next few hours cliff jumping, sun bathing, and singing Mission Impossible and James Bond while driving the boat.
Slightly past 6 (whoops!) we cruised back into the harbor, and returned the boat mostly in one piece.
We were pretty sad that our Tuscan adventures were coming to an end, but this epic day was the perfect way to say goodbye to this incredible region.
Next up, Florence and Rome.
Until next time Tuscany, thanks for the adventures, and the 5 pounds we gained!