Rome from the Back of a Vintage Vespa Scooter

When I lived in Rome, I spent a lot of time on the back of a motorino, scooter. Mainly because I didn’t have a car, most people I knew didn’t have one, either, and those that had a form of transportation had a motorino. The lucky ones had a Vespa.

Bright Blue Vespa in Rome, Italy

So if you were getting a ride somewhere, most likely you were strapping on a helmet and holding on to dear life while whizzing through the streets and in and out of traffic. And when you’re a passenger with someone who is comfortable driving a motorino, it’s even better!

In Italy, as crazy as the traffic is, I always feel like drivers are a bit more sensitive to scooter/motorcycle riders than say, the United States. Since they are so prolific, as a car driver you absolutely have to be aware of them and make room, otherwise you could hurt someone or at least get your car banged up by not paying attention.

That’s not to say that riding on a motorcycle in Italy is safe, but you just feel like you’re more a part of the road than an intruder.

But if there ever was a city to see on the back of a Vespa, it’s Rome.

Vintage Blue and White Vespa with British Flag

So when I was in Rome a few weeks ago, one morning (after my early early morning in Trastevere) I found dozens of (mostly vintage) Vespas lined up with their owners and waiting….for something. That something arrived in the form of dozens of very large tourists. They didn’t speak Italian, the Italians didn’t speak whatever, but each driver paired off with a passenger that in most cases was much larger than he, and mounted those Vespas.

Owners and Tourists mounted on a Vespa, ready for the Tour

Motors started, cameras were pulled out, helmets went on, and away they went!

The Rome on a Vespa Tour takes off

Now, if you’ve never been on a Vespa or a scooter before, it’s definitely something to try. It might even be safer to try it as a passenger if you’ve never ridden before.

Tour Rome on a Vespa - Waiting for the light

Interested in seeing Rome from the back of a Vespa? I’m not sure if this group I saw is one of the ones I listed below – you’re welcome to send me other links of similar groups and I’ll post them here!

Riding a scooter or motorcycle around Italy? Yay or Nay? Done it, afraid to? Tell me in the comments.

Comments

  1. says

    Last summer it was possible to rent a Vespa to visit the beautiful ‘Langhe’ region of Piedmont, with it’s breathtaking views and vineyards. I saw a few tourists who were based in Alba trying it. Would like to have ago myself. Here are the details for anyone interested: Tel. +39 0173 979086 or visit http://www.ferreromoto.it
    Great idea they have in Rome!

  2. says

    Last time I was in Rome we hired bicycles from the Piazza del Popolo and it was a really great day. We managed to cover so much of the city and stop off whenever we felt like it. I’d definately recommend it!

  3. says

    One of my most cherished memories is of riding around Rome on the back of a Vespa – handsome Italian friend driving – trying to find an ATM. I felt like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday…sigh…good times.

  4. says

    Being on the back of the Vespa with my Italian is one of my favorite things to do. The first time terror turned to thrill and now I love winding in and out of traffic and the tours in the country. This summer I want to learn how to drive it. I am only sad that the puppy can’t join us.

  5. says

    Strangely enough for someone who calls herself La Vespista, I’ve only done it a couple of times here because the Italian’s PX kept breaking down and leaving me swearing on the side of the road. Even more ironic when you consider the Italian is a mechanic. He just can’t be arsed fixing it and for some strange reason doesn’t want to let me near it with a spanner.

    My own 1966 Vespa Sprint is sitting at home in my parents’ garage in Ireland because I can’t find anyone willing to ship it.

  6. says

    While I’ve never ridden on a scooter, I remember our first time in Florence how amazed we were at all the scooters on the streets and parked! It will always be an icon for Florence for us.

  7. says

    Well, my dear, if anyone could dig deep and locate some nostalgia for Rome in me, it’s you! Look at those gorgeous photos of yours!! That blue Rome sky. I’ve never heard of anything like this…I’m surprised I didn’t stumble upon something like this during my time there. So interesting! As for personally riding scooters, I’ve only done it a couple times and I am terrified, something about being out in the open on the road freaks me out. So I avoid it like the plague. I know, I’m weird!

  8. says

    My son has been hankering after a Motorino. But Everyone I know who has one, has at some stage fallen off with more or less injuries. My daughter’s boyfriend fell off his, on his way to sit the practical test for a driver’s licence in Sorrento.

  9. says

    Looks like something to try at least once. interestingly enough, I recent took a photo of a NYC couple on a blue Vespa. They looked very comfortable.

    Paz

  10. says

    To my mind Vespa is a symbol of Italy indeed. I so like its design, it totally stands out of the crowd.
    .In Sydney there few clubs dedicated to this brand and my favorite cafe is decorated with many Vespas.
    Happy to find your blog. I like your stories and you photos look absolutely fabulos.
    Regards, Larissa

  11. says

    I cannot agree more with you that car drivers in Italy – or Europe in general, are more aware of scooter, motorcycle or bike riders.

    I am coming from a country (Romania) where bikes were very common as public transportation sucked. There is a certain unwritten code law between car drivers and bikes there and definitely carefull driving.

    For instance. Someone opening a car door from a car to get out, first will instinctively look back to see if a bike is coming.
    And bikers know, that they shouldn’t ride too close to parked cars on the side of the road.

    I am surprised at how much bike unawareness is in the US. But it is getting better. The price of gas and the economy going down contributes to this ;-)

    Gabi @ Mamaliga.

  12. Erryl says

    I’ll not forget the amazing Rome Vespa Tour experience with BICI&BACI Staff (www.bicibaci.com). My handsome driver taught me many details and secrets about his incredible city riding the a 1953′s Vespa (the same one of “Roman Holiday”!!!!).

  13. says

    Dear Sara, thanks for your article it was very nice to read about riding a scooter in Rome from your perspective! Next time you are in Rome please let me know, it would be great to meet you for coffee and talk about your articles and Rome, and offer you a free tour of Rome on a Vespa!
    Sergio
    nerone.cc@gmail.com
    NERONE TOURS ITALY (Owner)

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