Forget whistlestop bus tours involving clunky headsets and bad narrators, or those embarrassing Segway trips: if there’s one way to see Rome, it’s by Vespa. Not only does it make you think of the classic scenes in Roman Holiday, where Audrey Hepburn is shown around the city by a very dashing Gregory Peck, but it also lets you see the streets as today’s Romans do, often choosing this as their mode of transport over the packed buses and the Metro.
I booked a Vespa tour with Scooteroma as the company seemed personal, friendly and a bit quirky, with good reviews from customers. Run by Annie Ojile Nerone and her husband Giovanni, they offer a range of options (including longer trips and Tuscany excursions), but I went for the three hour Motorino tour.
Having never driven before, I was riding as a passenger along with my sister, but you can opt to drive if you have relevant experience. However, as a tourist, I would recommend letting someone do the hard work for you, so you can make the most of the views and not have to worry about what lane you’re in!
Time passed quickly as we zipped through the city, driving up past the Colosseum and the Forum, the church of Santa Maria Maggiore (where the new Pope, Papa Francesco, had prayed just a couple of hours before) and the streets of Testaccio.
Pit stops were well timed to make sure we got the lowdown on the important and less well known sights, such as the Circus Maximus, Gianicolo Hill and Trastevere (my favourite district – think classic Italian village in the middle of a bustling city). Despite my skinny jeans, I was soon hopping on and off the scooter in no time, albeit with a karate-style leg move that could have floored a passer by if they happened to stand too close.
We got to taste fresh water from the fountains and silky smooth espresso from a coffee shop in Testaccio, as well as finding the best panoramic views for postcard-worthy photos. What’s more, we learned much more than we ever could have done from general guidebooks, finding out where Mussolini announced Italy’s involvement in WWII, why there’s a road between the two sections of the Forum, and why the Circus Maximus doesn’t have any of its stone and marble left over. I won’t spoil it by telling you the answers.
At the end of the tour, Annie gave me and my sister a great list of personalised recommendations for the rest of our trip, and she was totally spot-on. That evening we wandered around the Monti district, which Annie had promised we would love for its foodie hotspots and vintage stores, and we found it hard to choose between the restaurants she’d picked out for us to try.
Peering into the windows along one of the main streets, we saw a crowd form to watch a live art performance, whilst customers spilled out onto the pavement outside the lively hub of Ai Tre Scallini. Without her recommendations, we’d never have even known that this district lay just a five minute walk from our hotel.
I’d thoroughly recommend Scooteroma to anyone who’s thinking about going to Rome, whether that’s as part of a wider tour or as a city break. Set aside just a few hours of your time and get to see the city in a whole new light. Just be prepared for serious Vespa envy afterwards, as you’ll be wishing you had one to take home…