When I left off in my last post about Rob Ferretti’s Adventure Drives AD.04, we were in Florence Italy. If you missed how I got here, I suggest you get caught up! We are now on Day 5 of the first European Adventure Drives and the stage was set for an eventful day; A winery tour and lunch in Tuscany – the Leaning Tower of Pisa – Sestri Levante (Italian Riviera). It turned into quite an experience including a run-in with the Italian Military Police! More on that later…
Site Seeing In Florence
Not wanting to give up an opportunity to see some more of Florence, we got up extra early to check out a few historical landmarks. The Adventure Drives staff had this opportunity planned out in the schedule for the day which was a nice touch since we were a short walk to some great attractions. Walking through the narrow streets of Florence on roads originally built 2000 years prior was a surreal experience.
After an abbreviated, express tour of Florence, we headed back to the Sina Villa Medici hotel. Me and Jebo met up with ThatDudeInBlue and ThatGirlInRed. He was looking pretty tired after a poorly timed dose of the sleep-aid melatonin late the night before.
I offered to drive his rented, but not particularly wanted, Maserati Ghibli (The Dodgerati as I called it) to the Ruffino Winery in Tuscany. We were meeting up there with famous Lamborghini test driver Valentino Balboni. Jebo jumped in the Porsche Cab and we all headed out to the vineyards of Tuscany.
Winery Tour With Valentino Balboni
The winery was a great experience as they closed the place down just for us. After a nice tour of their facility and vineyard, we sat down to yet another long Italian lunch.
After lunch we decided, with a few others, to take a detour and visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This was just 30 minutes out of the way as we headed to Sestri Levante in the Italian Riviera.
The drive from Tuscany to Pisa was breathtaking. We drove amazing backroads through the old country as we made our way back to the Autostrade. All with top down and Eros Ramazotti on repeat courtesy of Jebo. Dove c’é Musica!
The Run-In With The Italian Military Police
When we arrived in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower, the guard at the main gate waved me away. Not wanting to waste the trip, I started to drive around the walled city. On the back side of Pisa I found what looked like a back entrance. As I made the right turn I was met with a lot of commotion and yelling.
Before I understood what was going on, me and John in the Jaguar F-Type had made the turn heading into Pisa. Then an Italian Military Police truck pulled out and blocked the way of Liron and Scott behind us. It was at this point I realized we were driving the wrong way into the EXIT of the city!
I thought we were in a bit of trouble from the reaction from the Military Police in my rear view mirror. I quickly made a left turn as soon as I could to elude the Police and avoid the oncoming, one-way, traffic.
As I did this I was met with what looked like a homeless man who was anxiously motioning us to park in this secluded corner area against the perimeter wall. It was a bit sketchy but he seemed intent on helping us hide from the Military Police. At this point, I wasn’t going to argue!
When we backed into the spots there were feral cats nestled in the corner and it didn’t take long until a bunch of kids were heading over to see the cars we were driving. The homeless man was trying to shoe them away in an effort to make sure he got a nice tip. While all of this was happening, we decided that Jebo, Liron and Cara would go see the Leaning Tower while me, Scott and John watched the cars and vice versa.
Pisa had an uneasy feeling of a gypsy town. Walking the quarter mile to the tower I quickly got my obligitory picture and we rolled out of town as quickly as we came in. We continued West to our final destination of Sestri Levante in the Italian Riviera.
The Italian Riviera
When we arrived in Sestri Levante the scenery was beautiful, a cool little beach town. In the whole town there were no 5 star accommodations available however. We stayed at an interesting beach front hotel with a view and that’s about all it had to offer. No air conditioning, no room service, no gym but we didn’t mind at all.
Rob and the Adventure Drives team had dinner planned in a castle overlooking the water. The entrance was a cave leading to an elevator that took us way up to the castle. The food was as good as the view!
A Taste Of Italian Living
After dinner we had a nice long walk back to the hotel. As we strolled down the streets I really got the feel of Italian living; stress and care-free. We stopped for some gelato and a couple drinks at a local pub as we made our way back to the hotel to recuperate from a busy day.
Things Get Dicey With The Police In Switzerland
Stay tuned for more from Adventure Drives AD.04 as things get REALLY interesting in Switzerland. A beautiful country but find out why I never want to go back in my next post to Arne’s Antics!
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