A day on the Vespa

The day we bought our Vespa in 2004. On left Paolo Citti (Bar italia), Shona, Giovanni the owner.

Thursday we took off for the day to Pietrasanta on our little Vespa. The mission, to check out the market, to meet Sollai there and to hit the beach. Yay. The Vespa is such a cuddly little thing. We cling closely together which is great because the morning is cool, as if autumn had already risen, dew sparkling on the long grass at the edge of the road. We take the narrow winding road through the Camaiore, flanked by tall Linden trees. The countryside is lush farming land full of delightful mounds where rest gorgeous grand old farmhouses, vines spreading below them, olive trees, fruit trees, it is an abundant part of the earth.

Pietrasanta market is fun, full of beachy things, cheap towels, colourful bags and jewellery, wonderful hand painted salad bowls, rummage tables with designer shirts for the boys. Its not too big either, so the guys don’t go mad waiting for me to do my typical long inspection. They are so happy because they can indulge in a cappuccino and panini at the edge of the market while they wait and when I finally come we take a saunter through town in the warm glowing heat. We come to a halt at a fantastic retro furniture and designer clothing shop in the main walking street. I wondered if there are any celebrations for which I could excuse a couple of Piretti Plona chairs into my collection. But the clothes are amazing too, fantastic sculpted things, absolutely iconic and on the edge. We feel happily inspired by great things and feel it all surrounding our life here.

Then the beach. At last. We plonk into the sand. We are at the free beach in Forte dei Marmi. A lovely long clean beach with lots of chilled out happy people. Today the water is as clean as a whistle and we float and relax for ages in the tepid boppy water, talking a billion knots per hour with new ideas for everything…

On our way home, we are starting to really sag. I can’t work out why we get sooo tired riding the bike, but here it is again and we are absolutely knackered. And we get a puncture. Mama mia. We know our spare is flat too. And our back tyre is bald, not worth saving. And we don’t know the first thing about changing a bike tyre. Michael rolls it back into a little town, Ponte Moriano, where he remembers seeing a tyre garage. The garage is small and black with age, crammed with car tyres. A stringy old man with a grim black stare stands there and offers nothing. Michael asks for his help changing the tyre. He says he has no tyres to fit. No matter, says Mike, could you just pump up the spare tyre for now. His big bony fingers thrust in the direction he wants Mike to put the bike. The fingers thrust at the bike again indicating to roll it onto its side. Surprised, we do what we are told, and he pulls our his wrench and starts undoing the nuts of the tyre till it is dismantled, he shuffles off to the workshop. The smell. We look down and our lovely old bike is bathed in petrol. The old man is scathing – pick it up, put it upright. Of course. Mike grins. He’s humble. He follows the old boy into the shop and watches him repair the puncture and pull out a new tyre from the heap. The old man softens. Mike thanks him for the lessons. The old man shows him more. There is now a quiet comraderie between them. Finally the wheel is replaced and we know what to do in an emergency and we pay not much and we say our goodbyes and the engine won’t start… the petrol mucked up the spark plug… more tinkering, and then Mike is ordered to roll it down the road to pushstart it. It eventually goes. We shake hands and the old man is twinkling. We ride down the road laughing. We feel like we have just enjoyed the best day.

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