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Florence: 500 Touring Club

What a wonderful time! We just came back from doing the Wine Tasting Tour with the 500 Touring Club, recommended by Rick in his Italy guide. The premise is this: they have a fleet of vintage (1960s and 1970s) Fiat 500s. You get to drive the cars, and you proceed on a tour in convoy. Driving a vintage Fiat 500 is one of those things that you might hate if somebody made you do it, but doing it for fun is a blast! They're tiny, cramped, noisy, bumpy, slow, and a barrel of laughs! If you can drive a car with a manual transmission and you're not obese, you can do it.

We arrived easily by the 36 bus from Stazione Maria Santa Novella (Google Maps worked really well for us in finding out how to get somewhere on public transit). The tour starts with orientation to the cars and their operation. Then everybody chooses or is assigned a car, and you head out into beautiful Tuscany. Perhaps because I was the oldest, or because I had prior experience double-clutching, Beppe, the owner, asked me to drive Paola, the red car, who always goes last because she's easily seen (all the cars have names). But on this day, we also had Alessio riding chase on a scooter, which was a good thing. Paola had a misfire, which only got worse. Eventually we pulled over, Alessio called Beppe, and in fairly short order we had a replacement car (Jacopo) and a tow vehicle for Paola, and we caught up to the group waiting at a beautiful vista point. All part of the adventure of vintage motoring!

After more fun driving through gorgeous wine country, we returned to a beautiful villa for heavy antipasti and wine tasting (more drinking than tasting). Having just missed the bus, we took a cab (20€) back downtown.

If you like cars, scenery, and wine, you'll love this tour.

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