As the Tuscan summer heat keeps some people indoors, two people who are making a beeline to feel the warmth of Florence are Dyanne and Keith Edwards from the UK, making the 1500km journey on a bright, shiny, red Vespa all the way from Winchester, Hampshire, where they are saying farewell to the British rainstorms that have been hovering over the country.
This year Dyanne closes a chapter on her working life after 26 years with the University of Winchester (formerly King Alfred’s College) and Keith is taking a break from his successful gardening and landscaping business, Grass Roots, which he has been running for the past 8 years. Rather than retiring they declare they are embarking on a Renaissance, starting with an adventurous dash across Europe to the very heart of the Renaissance itself, Florence, the city their daughter has chosen as her new home, working as a wedding and party planner for English speaking couples.
The trip is partly inspired by an earlier journey, 45 years ago, when a 19-year old Keith did the same route with his friends as members of the Vespa Club, from Leicester to Pisa, where they were invited for lunch at the Piaggio factory on arrival. Back then the set-up was a little different; Keith did the whole journey with a gas cylinder between his legs on a Vespa 180SS and his friend, Bill, took his sister on pillion purely so she could cook for them all!
This time round, on a brand new Vespa 300GTS and hardly any luggage other than the leathers on their backs, a bikini, underwear, toothbrushes and a camera, Keith is taking Dyanne to re-live the same experience (although without the cooking duties!)
They left Winchester in the rain on Monday 9th July and are passing through France, stopping at Arras, Bar sur Seine and Bourg en Bresse before heading over the border towards La Spezia and on towards Florence, where they hope to arrive on July 16.
Asked about plans for accommodation for the week, young-spirited Dyanne simply says…”we’ll just stop somewhere along the way, wherever we end up each evening, order an aperitivo and book a room! It’s all just too exciting for words, I can’t wait!”
The couple will be also returning to the UK by the same means after a few weeks of relaxation.
Follow their adventure on the facebook page Knickers in the wind.