Are you planning a Roman holiday? As they say, ‘when in Rome…’ Ride a Vespa. When it comes to exploring this mesmerising city, hiring a classic Vespa is arguably the coolest way to get a real taste of La Dolce Vita.
A mere glimpse of advice on several travel forums, reveals the extent to which unscrupulous firms have given scooter hire a bad name so it’s vital to ensure you always hire a Vespa from a reputable dealer. Hiring a classic Vespa can be a fun way to discover the cobbled streets, narrow alleyways and tucked-away piazzas and let’s face it, it’s part and parcel of a real driving adventure in Rome.
There’s something irresistibly romantic about hiring a classic Vespa and taking to the streets of Rome with your loved one. If being in the driving seat isn’t for you, holding on tightly with your arms around the waist of your other half might sound more appealing.
Rome in autumn is especially romantic. The air’s still warm and the sights are less crowded and the classic Vespa offers a ‘must do’ Italian driving adventure. One for the bucket list for many even, just ignore all the snorts from those who say you won’t be doing anything else on your list after taking your life in your hands navigating the perilous roads of Rome and the infamous Italian drivers.
Like we said, when in Rome… and Vespas and motor scooters or as the Italians say motorini are great fun and an enjoyable way to explore the Eternal City. The Vespa made its appearance in 1946 thanks to Italian manufacturer Piaggio which continues to make the scooter to this day.
There’s no doubt the Vespa offers a flexible form of travel. Rome is full of small, narrow streets and getting lost is part of the appeal. You can stop pretty much whenever it takes your fancy, although your rental partner will probably insist you lock it up whenever you do.
You do need to be careful. And sensible. And keep your wits about you.
Unlike Audrey who felt the wind in her hair as she practically single-handedly made the Vespa a Roman icon, you will need to wear a helmet. You will need to hold a driver’s licence and you will probably find you need to be aged at least 18 if not 21 to get your hands on a classic Vespa rental even though in Italy you can drive a scooter from the age of 14.
Italians don’t have the best reputation for driving. You’ve heard the stories: stopping at red lights isn’t considered mandatory; if someone’s heading straight for you on your side of the road, you better move; indication is unnecessary – be prepared for drivers who suddenly swerve into your path. If the thought of tackling the streets of Rome on a Vespa rental is a bit daunting, you can always opt to be a passenger and hire your own driver, or join a Vespa tour, you may feel safer in numbers.
If we haven’t put you off yet, riding a Vespa around Rome gives you a sense of chic, freedom and a hint of rebellion (think Mods in Quadrophenia) which is hard to resist and sometimes it’s good to let your heart rule your head. There’s plenty of places where you can hire a Vespa, so demand remains strong suggesting visitors are not being put off by the horror stories of Italian driving.
Taking in the city on two wheels also means you can go further afield and experience Rome’s famous seven hills whilst Expedia’s take on exploring by Vespa includes being able to visit out-of-the-way districts such as Trastevere and Ghetto.
You can hire a 50cc, 125cc or 150cc model for various prices but expect around €50 to €100 per day and more if you’re opting for a driver or joining a tour.
You’ll have a ball but just be sure to drive carefully. The Italians didn’t get their reputation for driving for nothing. So, put your smartphone away, focus on the road, resist the temptation to go native such as weaving through cars and taking questionable shortcuts. Whilst you may be on holiday, never be tempted to drink and drive.
If you’ve set your heart on a vintage Vespa tour, just do it, you’ll love it.
How to hire a Vespa