This might sound like the most tourist-y travel post I’ve ever written. I prooomise it’s not (it’s actually really far from it). As you know, I don’t usually do tours. I would rather just wander and get lost and explore (and, in fact, I am quite good at getting lost). However, after talking to Annie at Scooteroma and dreaming of riding through Rome on the back of a vespa, the little Audrey Hepburn inside my head piped up: A vespa is always a good idea.
My guide Jacopo was waiting for me in front of my hostel as soon as I arrived in Rome – a most welcome change from airports and transfer buses. A quick lesson on what not to do on a vespa (move quickly, lean over, fall off, etc) and we were off!
Many people have asked me if it is hard to learn how to drive a Vespa in Rome. Let’s all take a second to remember that I am absolutely terrified of riding (non-stationary) bikes in Washington, D.C. (and Aix, for that matter) – do we really think I would be driving a Vespa through Rome?? Luckily for me and all the other drivers in Rome, Jacopo doubled as both my guide and driver (and, at times, photographer).
Riding around bella Roma with Jacopo, I got to see hidden side streets and often overlooked statues, through artist neighborhoods to mountains of terra cotta to (on my request) the more touristy sites like the Basilica di San Pietro. We may even have an accidental cameo in a Fiat commercial filmed at the Colosseum (stay tuned!). Jacopo gave me the back stories of the neighborhoods, the parks, and the city – which was perfect, because beyond watching Roman Holiday and only the Rome part of Eat, Pray, Love and eating lots of pasta, I hadn’t really done much to prepare for my trip mentally.
Jacopo showed me his favorite parts of the city – from a favorite pizzeria in passing to going down side streets exclusively used by scooters and brave pedestrians. With Jacopo, I got to see the local side of Rome – the side I wanted to see – far from tourists but full of traffic. On the evening we rode around, James Bond was being filmed, anti-fascist rallies were held, and I experienced Rome at sunset for the first time on the back of a vepsa. And that is something I’ll be able to say forever, so I apologize in advance for being annoying. We weaved through traffic, as Romans do, chatting with fellow Vespa riders to see what was going on all over the city.
One of my favorite places Jacopo took me was Monte dei Cocci – a mountain that was made completely by broken terra cotta pots (Classy, you would love it). Since no one lives nearby, the Roman nightlife has profited by creating a line of restaurants, bars and clubs that can play music as loud as they’d like without disturbing the neighbors.
My other favorite spot of Jacopo’s was Piazza de Pasquino near Piazza Navona, where I took my sister and some of her friends the following day. There is a statue in the corner of the square where people tape poems, satire, and critiques written in old Italian. Known as a “talking statue,” people still tape poems and other writings to the base – meaning people have to regularly come by to then scrape them off.
After another circle around the city, I wanted to ride on a vespa every day for the rest of my life. Jacopo dropped me off in front of my hostel with knots in my hair and the best second impression (Ryan Air was, unfortunately, the first) of Rome I could ever ask for – I spent the rest of my time in the Eternal City wishing I could do it all again.
I originally found out about the tours on Instagram and was instantly hooked. Annie, one of the owners/”Scooter Maven” was my saving grace throughout my 18-hour
voyage ordeal to Rome, assuring me that bella Roma was indeed waiting and that Jacopo would get rid of all my travel stress (she was right). She and her husband, Giovanni, and Jacopo, were all so flexible, attentive, and patient with my constantly-changing travel plans (thank you again, Ryan Air) – I really could not have asked for a better experience with them as a business. Very professional, but moreover they went above and beyond to make the tour and my arrival in Rome personal. When I finally ran out to Jacopo in front of my hostel, it felt like I was meeting up with a friend with an immense personal knowledge of the city and a nice set of wheels 😉 Win-win, in my carnet de voyage.
Editor’s Note: I received a discounted rate for my tour, but all opinions are my own. For pricing, contact Scooteroma directly.