Last month, my wife and I went on a mini European tour for our honeymoon that comprised of stopovers in London, Paris and Rome. But this story starts a little earlier than that, roughly two weeks before we were scheduled to leave, when I suddenly got the itch to research Vespa tours in Italy. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, but for some reason, failed to include in our original plans. Thankfully, after trading a few emails with the wonderful couple that runs Scooteroma Tours, they graciously agreed to take us around Rome to experience what makes seeing the Eternal City from a motorino (that’s “scooter,” in Italian) so extraordinary.
Annie, the self-titled Scooter Maven, was unfortunately unable to join us on the tour due to a bad case of bronchitis (though she stopped by the meeting point to introduce herself anyway), but her husband and business partner Giovanni arrived with one of their many other English-speaking tour guides, all of whom have years of professional experience in the tourism and hospitality industries. As a couple of Yanks with only a phrase book-sized knowledge of Italian, I can’t begin to explain how much of a relief it was to have tour guides who not only spoke English, but spoke it fluently. (Annie herself is American-born, but you can read all about how she came to live in Rome here.)
With the pleasantries and introductions out of the way, it was time to hop on the back of a Vespa and get to scootering. While Giovanni drove a newer Vespa model (red and shiny, and clearly the pride and joy of the Scooteroma family), his cohort Stefano arrived on a gorgeous vintage Vespa in order to give us a taste of what it would be like riding on both. That’s because Scooteroma offers a variety of different tours, as well as different ways to experience them. In addition to their half- and full-day tours, the company also does vintage Vespa and foodie tours, as well as a few other non-scooter variations. You can also either rent a scooter (up to two people per bike) or chose to ride on the back along with a guide, and although driving might sound like a lot of fun, it was actually much more enjoyable just to sit back and soak up the sights as Giovanni and Stefano zipped around the busy streets of Rome.
A typical half-day tour (which lasts approximately 4 hours) begins with a pick-up at your hotel or designated meeting spot within the city center. The guides then lead you on a motorized tour through Rome, with stops that include favorites like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Circus Maximus and Jewish Ghetto, as well as less travelled areas like the Caracalla Baths, Aventine Hill and the Garden of Oranges. One of the coolest stops on the tour is at Appian Way, where some of the original cobbled stone road still exists just a few yards away from remains of the ancient Roman aqueduct system. You’ll even drive through the charming neighborhood of Testaccio for a quick coffee or gelato before finally ending at Gianicolo Hill, which boasts some of the most breathtaking views of the city and the best photo op of your entire trip.
Of course, the Scooteroma team is more than happy to create a custom tour for you as well, and Giovanni even gave us with some great dining suggestions, whether you want to eat like a local or just looking for your favorite dish. Both guides were also very informative about the history surrounding the various landmarks, but more than anything else, they were incredibly friendly and accommodating. Giovanni even shared some of his own philosophies and opinions during the course of the tour, providing a first-hand account of how Romans actually view their city, and that’s something that, like many of the stops on the tour, you simply won’t find in your average guidebook.
Though I would suggest going on a Scooteroma tour early in your visit so that you can take advantage of the information and tips that you’ll receive along the way, I was actually glad that we didn’t go until our final day in Rome (at least for the purposes of this piece), because it only further emphasized just how much we would have missed if we had stuck to our original plans. You may have heard that some people actually “do Rome” in a day, and while that’s technically possible, getting around on a scooter is much easier, more relaxing and a ton of fun. It may seem a bit naïve to speak so highly of Scooteroma Tours having never ridden with any of their competitors, but it’s hard to imagine a more perfect afternoon in the Eternal City, and frankly, I can’t wait to go back.