Scooters - Vespas, Rome
Scooter city - OK, no more jokes about how Italian drive - I have to say that they drive quite well - I have been "missed" by more motorcyclists than I could ever count!
Note that this is classified as "Other Adventure/Outdoor"
The motorcycle (motorino/scooter) rules are simple in Rome - NO RULES! People who rent a scooter to see Rome must have a death wish or sorts!
For people who live here – and who have been ”taught” this system of NO RULES – this can be a great advantage. For everyone else, it can be downright frightening! Motorini follow their own path, weaving through cars, driving on the opposite side of the center line, (against oncoming traffic), not stopping a red lights (That was for me?), driving on the sidewalks, driving through crosswalks along with the pedestrians, parking anywhere (including the sidewalks), with the primarily goal of getting from point A to point B as fast as humanly possible. There’s always that age-old question in the US… if you come to a red light at 2 AM and you can see for miles in all directions, do you stop and wait for the light to change or just roll through it… In Rome, they think this question is ridiculous as many motorini drivers are not stopping at 12 noon – much less 2 AM!
*Note that this tip is also on my Warnings/Dangers group.
“Sembra una vespa!” (“It resembles a wasp!”)
— Enrico Piaggio (1905-1965), his reaction to the buzzing sound of the engine of a Vespa prototype
Romans love their Vespas. And so does the rest of the world; this icon of post-World War II Italian industrial design is the most successful motor scooter ever made. Throughout the capital large parts of the cityscape are given over the Vespa, as this line of parked vehicles near the Spanish Steps illustrates.
Emerging from the Second World War with an industrial and transportation infrastructure that lay in ruins, Italy needed a vehicle that could navigate the country’s bombed-out roads. Another consequence of the War that contributed to the Vespa’s development was Italy’s agreement with the Allies to limit its military production. The vehicle’s manufacturer, Piaggio & Co. S.p.A, turned from making fighter planes to Vespas.
It is possible to rent a Vespa while in Rome; plenty of web sites can help you find the model and terms that will suit your comfort level. You can imagine that you are Gregory Peck or Audrey Hepburn from that fabulous 1953, Academy Award-winning motion picture, “Roman Holiday” (see photo #2 the edge of the Coliseum can be seen to the right. This story was filmed on location).
At first glance, traffic in Rome seems crazy, but it's amazing how it works out so well. Horn is probably the first part that wears out in Italian cars, they use it more than braking pedal :)
I'm sure there are traffic rules in Italy, but unwritten rules are the ones to obey. Police don't bother drivers or pedestrians unless they do something extraordinarily stupid.
Crossing streets in Rome is easy once you get hang of it (it takes just a couple of crossings). Drivers don't stop but they won't hit you unless you step on the street totally unexpected (or when there's red traffic light for you). Just use your intuition and common sense.
Traffic lights are green for pedestrians for short time in Rome, but once it gets yellow, you have about half a minute left to cross the street. If it's red, expect to wait a couple of minutes, traffic light cycles are long. Traffic lights are mostly accepted by drivers, but not pedestrians.
There are lots of cars in Rome, and, naturally, many scooters, too. Cars are mostly 10+ years in age and some 25 per cent have a dent or two, but it probably doesn't bother drivers at all. I really like this attitude!
And last but not least, you really don't want to drive in Rome, choose rails and buses!
It's a well known fact (and true!) that Rome's favourite means of transportation is the scooter. I picked up a brochure from the hotel which gives an indication of prices and how it works.
This rental company is located in station Roma Termini, between the main entrance and the bus station. Open 7 days a week.
Price indication (2007) for a 50 cc Scooter:
Per hour € 8
Per day (9.30-19hrs) € 35
Per 24 hrs € 37
Weekends € 25 (per day)
For a week € 25 (per day)
Note: you need a drivers license.
There are also 125 cc and 125 cc Comfort Scooters for rent.
And bicycles at € 10 per 24 hrs.
They take creditcard payments.
if you rent a car in rome just DON'T rent your car by maggiore rent-a-car company. they cheated us. we got a car with a half-full tank. as we returned our car we filled the tank 3/4 full (means paid 20 EUR extra) and wrote a notice that we had received half-full tank in the beginning. never the less they charged our credit card with 50 EUR extra. So we paid 70 EUR more than we thought. we protested by mail, but they just said, they won't pay us anything back.
This company is crap. If you want to get know Italian inefficiency and bureaucracy - go to maggiore.
As anyone who has been to Rome knows, scooters rule! If you can drive a scooter and have a Class C drivers license , scooters are THE BEST way to get around! You can come and go as you please, and park conveniently. Rent one at a reasonable rate, and shop around - prices vary. You can reserve scooters in advance online, and there are rental places everywhere, including the Termini Station. Helmets (mandatory) and locks are included in the rental price.
Be careful: they may want a $1000 available credit line before they'll let you actually take the scooters. I didn't even know that until I showed up at the shop! I don't know if every company does this.
Renting a motorcycle isn't really necessary if you plan on staying within the city. Yes, the Ducatis are hot, but a scooter can get between some pretty tight spots, and can be parked in an even smaller spot. You don't need speed in Rome, you need small size. You can also get pretty far outside the walls in a short amount of time, even on a small scooter. And you can safely put your kid on the back of a larger scooter, but do think about daily physical comfort if you're going to double up.
CAVEAT EMPTOR (Buyer Beware): If you do not have previous scooter or motorcycle experience, please do not think it would be romantic or cute to learn to ride in Rome (unless you are from Manhattan - you might be okay). California drivers seem to be generally frightened by the hyper-urban driving style in other places, so I think that scootering in Rome will not be a positive experience for timid folk. Roman traffic is much more organic and flows continuously, regardless of the "rules." But since the Carabinieri seem more interested in combing their hair and checking out the hot chicks than stopping you for a traffic citation, just go with the flow, and have a great time!
I would think this would be the most fun and convenient mode of transport to use in the city - getting through the traffic easily, no parking hassles etc.... But it is also probably the most dangerous too! Easy to get knocked down... and Rome drivers did seem to be quite erratic!
We didn't hire any scooters, so I couldn't recommend any companies, but there do seem to be a few ones around.
The most dangerous things on the roman roads are scooters. The larger these are, the more treacherous they are, since their drivers tend to consider them as bicycles, but they have the size of a small lorry.
The second most dangerous things are Smart cars (those ugly two-seaters made by Mercedes and Swatch, which tend to be driven by bimbos and teenagers with more gel on the head than brain inside).
The third most dangerous things are pedestrians who don't follow my previous tip on walking rules and do one of the following: suddenly start crossing very fast, then stop two metres away from the pavement; start crossing then back off; start crossing slowly without looking; then start running when they see a car approaching; start crossing outside the zebras (they are indeed very important); start crossing, then answer the mobile phone or (even worse) start texting their friends, looking for their lost mates, search a lipstick in their bag, and so on.
Laugh at the car drivers and dash through between the cars during (constant) traffic jam.
Only, it takes some guts not only to mount one these speedsters but to actually drive them, for once you are being sucked up by the flow you may not pace down, THAT would be dangerous.
However, these vehicles are undisputedly a good alternative to four-wheeld transportation.
Sandi (my traveling partner) began to feel her fingers tighten on the steering wheel, and her body tense, as we approached the city center of Rome. We had received very specific instructions on how and where to find the rental office. Unfortunately, the instructions did not know about road construction and detours. By the time I (the navigator) found where we were on the Hertz map...we were 10 streets away. Luckily, they had told us we could return the car to any of their convenient locations in Rome. After an hour of being honked and sworn at, we decided we were close to an alternate drop off location. Sandi being the good trooper that she was, stayed calm, cool and collected. Following my directions to the alternate location, we suddenly found ourselves right back at Villa Borghese...the original drop off spot! Go figure!
Note: We would have never known in a million years that the drop off spot was here, had we not been told by our previous hotel. There is not a single sign to indicate the Hertz drop off spot is located under Villa Borghese. You will finally see a sign for Hertz when you pull in the underground city center parking garage.
Check out my Florence page for Part I, the rental pick up.
as tourists, my friend convinced me to rent a vespa for an afternoon. as a young, terrible driver in a foreign city with chaotic traffic, i was apprehensive. but i bit the bullet, and subsequently crashed into a curb, sending me and the vespa flying...as my friend sped off, having the time of her life!! So, yes they are cool and very italian, be aware of your driving skills before embarking! Enjoy!
Via Dei Fori Imperiali brings from Piazza Venezia to the Colossium...Mussolini built it to have a road on wich celebrate italians army (italian what?!),it is said he crushed a beatiful medioeval zone in order of doing it....well,every tourist that comes in Rome pass through this road.It's really impressive and here I just wanna say do not be scared or disgusted by the car traffic and noise,try to take two step on it during the deep night time,then tell how does it looks.The city must live,over the ruins and the glories of the past,under the gas clouds and noise of the present.
You know the saying "when in Rome..." Well to do as the Romans do you MUST rent a scooter, or find a resident with one willing to let you hop on the back. One of my most beautiful moments in Rome occured at 4AM whipping by the Roman forum all lit up at night on the back of a scooter.
Be careful though, I have seen more accidents since I have been here. And, you must wear a helmet. A friend of mine has a very funny story. She was getting a ride on a scooter but the owner only had one helmet. They got pulled over and her friend ended up talking his way out of a ticket by saying that he had this opportunity to sleep with an american girl so he had to take the risk of riding without a helmet!!! The officer let him go. Now only in Italy would that be a significant excuse!!!!!
You could buy one of these! I wonder if they sell it by the pound? My friend Victoria is only about 5'2' so you can tell how small this car is!
If anyone knows what the make and model is, I'd love to know.
We went there by car. But we left our car outside of Rome. We bought a ticket for one day for the busses, train and the metro. I wondered a lot, there are only two metro lines!!! And then we took the train to the centre. It was rather easy to use public transport and rather cheap.