In some countries, Vespas were traditionally the stuff of 1950s Mods – particularly in Britain, where this fashion made a brief 1980s comeback. However, in Italy Vespas are not simply a niche fashion for those who can’t ride as fast as Bradley Wiggins without an engine to help them. Instead, they are an everyday item that is popular with the population at large in major cities across the country. For those staying in luxury hotels in the city, that means Vespas speeding by will be a commonplace sight as they visit the various sights of the city. But the tourists themselves can have a go, and indeed there are several companies offering Vespa tours of this historic city.
There are two ways of going about this. One is to get on the back and be taken around by a guide. The other is to ride solo and take a self-guided trip. The first of these does mean you are hanging on to a stranger for an afternoon, but it also means you are in the hands of someone with plenty of knowledge of how to handle the idiosyncrasies of Roman traffic. Also, it means that as you do not need to navigate or negotiate the traffic, you are more free to look around.
These tours can also include special treats like being taken to breakfast with the locals. However, a self-guided tour will mean you can take things at your own pace, go off-route if you like and enjoy the feeling of independence. It will help, however, if you have some idea of what traffic conditions will be like. Whichever way you do it, riding around on a Vespa is an authentically Roman experience and will beat getting about by bus or Metro. You can still see all the great sights: the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Vatican, Coliseum and more, but afterwards you can say you really did take the advice about what to do “when in Rome”.