The idea of a boring package holiday doesn’t really appeal to everybody but throw a bit of adventure into the mix, add some stunning scenery and it suddenly feels a lot more appealing.
When I first heard Lambretta stalwart and former Lambretta Club of Great Britain championship winner, Jon Drury was missing the first National Rally of 2018 to go and ride a Vespa GTS in Italy I honestly didn’t believe it. This is the man who thrives on abusing anybody who doesn’t ride a geared scooter. Amazingly it turned out to be true and here’s the touring story as told by his better half, Ellen.
After what seemed like a wet miserable winter, the rally season would soon be upon us and we thought it was time to get our arse in gear and book some digs for the annual Easter trip to North Yorkshire, this year being Whitby.
When Jon saw the price B&B’s were going for on Booking.com he refused to pay up and immediately jumped onto his Sky Scanner app looking for cheap flights for the Easter weekend. I never thought anything about it until he told me that he’d booked flights to Italy for nine days for exactly the same cost as two nights in Whitby.
This was clearly a no-brainer, Italy it was, even though we were going to miss the first National Rally of the year.
At this point there was no itinerary as such, other than a flight to Naples. We’d spend two nights there, catch a ferry over to Sorrento and then travel the Amalfi coast, Pompeii and everything else. I assumed this would be by car… I was excited as this was a far better way to spend the weekend than at Whitby.
Get around better
The months went by and our Amalfi adventure was slowly creeping up on us, we were booking ferries and hotels but you can imagine my shock when I found out we had also booked a Vespa GTS 300. Especially as Lambretta die-hard, Jon is quite vocal with his opinion about them on rallies.
I had never been on one, obviously, but I had heard it was quite a comfy ride so to be perfectly honest I was super excited and a little bit concerned for Jon actually choosing to hire a Vespa but I wasn’t going to argue. When arriving in Naples late at night we caught a bus into the town to find our hotel. The back streets of Naples at midnight were an eye opener to say the least.
The first day we managed to walk a good nine miles, visiting the port and then into the town. The streets were full of people and restaurants and everything was so lively. Brilliant.
The highlight had to be ‘The underground city of Naples’ around 40 metres down. We took a guided tour, and very quickly learnt the city was used for many things, originally being built as an aqueduct for the water supply for the city and then being used as a shelter for World War 2, we were in awe.
Given a candle to light our path we squeezed through tunnels to enter different rooms, it was like a labyrinth all underneath this vibrant, exciting city. The humidity so high that they were actually growing plants underground with no water.
After several beers, a quick spag bol and risotto we scooted back to the hotel, ready to board the ferry to Sorrento the next morning. Eeeeek!
I was surprised how simple the ferry was, it was like catching a bus, but they sell beer on-board. 45 minutes later we were in Sorrento ready for the holiday to start. When we slowly started to dock, we were immediately hit with this idyllic cliff-top resort. It was breathtaking, this was more like it. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
The 20/25 minute walk to the hotel incorporated a cliff face with around 200 steps but we finally got there. Knackered was an understatement but being upgraded on arrival had to be one of the best perks of the trip, we had a panoramic view of the Gulf of Napoli, completely breathtaking and we soon became spies on the people eating on the Minerva below.
The Italian Job
We had one day of relaxing, eating and walking around the town and god did we? The main square is so clean yet so, so busy. Restaurants and bars everywhere you look, but I’m sure you are all aware you need a kind of ‘special death wish’ license to drive or ride in Italy and Sorrento was just the same, absolutely crazy. Literally running across roads, horns ringing in your ears and it doesn’t calm down on a night either. Kind of exciting but petrifying at the same time, a slight panic that we would be on a Vespa in less than 24 hours wanting to travel everywhere.
Travel in style?
Today was the day! Our Vespa was getting dropped off at 11 am sharp and Jon was literally ready and raring to go at 7.30am. We met the hire man in the hotel garage, everything was pretty simple, ‘sign this, sign that, this is how you turn it on, this is how you open that’ and within ten minutes that was it, the scooter was ours for the next six days, and very pretty it was too.
Again apprehensive, I asked Jon to take it steady and we just rode around for the day to get our bearings, he agreed. We rode up onto the cliff top looking down upon Sorrento, the sea such a clear blue and green. No struggle from the Vespa and god was I comfy! Much better than the old Lambrettas we usually travel on, even with the backrest I made Jon fit for me (much to the amusement of his friends).
Steady Eddie’s we were, later we pulled back into the hotel (who couldn’t accommodate us more) and went out ready for our Pompeii trip the next day. I kept thinking as long as we keep being careful we should be fine, surely. It’s a holiday after all.
Bugger me, the next morning we set off climbing the cliff top in traffic and Jon starts riding like he’s Italian, ‘If we don’t we will get nowhere’ weaving in and out of the morning traffic, but I was surprisingly comfortable. Not panicking, not screaming at him, not holding on for dear life, in fact, I was loving it. We nailed the timing to Pompeii which should have taken a few hours but not for us, an hour down and we were there. This has to be the only way to travel in Italy surely?
A quick pit stop for breakfast, a slice of pizza for me and cake for Jon and we were in the ruins of Pompeii. WOW!
I never imagined it would be so vast. This was one of the best days of our whole trip. Everything about it was on a massive scale, from the roads to the columns, to homes, to the art! Most people had booked a guide, we went rogue and tagged along in a few places. I’m glad we went early though as it soon becomes pretty full regardless of how large it is.
We spent a good 3 or 4 hours there. A quick ride home for another night of eating, drinking and a bit more eating. The Amalfi Coast was tomorrow after all!
The Amalfi Coast
Up bright and early, Go Pro charged, breakfast had, bag packed, Go Pro on. Let’s do it!
I’d never understood it when Jon would say ‘It’s a great road to ride on’ or ‘it’s a boring road to ride on’ this day I got it 100%.”
The winding roads all the way from Sorrento to Salerno were incredible, not once did I fall asleep, which is a good job since I was the camerawomen.
Everything you see, ride past, or even ride through is just incredible, and I cannot imagine ever getting the same experience in a car or coach! No traffic for us, weaving in and out of it when riding through the towns to get back on the coastal road.
Completely breathtaking and something I had only ever seen in magazines or online, I genuinely couldn’t believe I was doing it, we were doing it! A whole 9 hours of clear blue and green seas, windy roads, beautiful scenery, stunning towns, delicious food and all on two wheels.
I couldn’t recommend this enough to anyone, everyone HAS to do this! The Vespa GTS 300 was the perfect bike for our Amalfi coast experience.
- plenty of space for luggage
- cheap to run
A fantastic holiday hire vehicle we couldn’t fault it, but it will never be a Lambretta!
Words and photos: Ellen and Jon
If you’re travelling or touring by scooter get in touch, we’d love to hear your story. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gallery by Ellen
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