Have you ever thought about renting a Vespa, but weren’t sure where to start? Here is an easy-to-follow guide that will get you on the road in no time. This article is perfect for first-time scooter riders, somebody that needs a refresher, or anybody thinking about renting a scooter in Italy. Lets get started! What documents do I need to rent a scooter in Italy? For Scooters 125 cc and Under: Standard Driver’s License Passport Credit or Debit Card Reserve your Vespa in Rome here. For Scooters or motorcycles above 125 cc: Motorcycle license Passport Credit or Debit Card The type of license you need depends on the size of the bike engine. Anything 125cc (cubic centimeters) and under is considered a small engine, so a standard license is perfect. Anything over 125cc, you need a motorcycle license. In addition, you’ll need to provide your passport and generally a credit or debit card. If you live outside the EU, we recommend an international drivers permit–which brings us to the next question… Do I really need an international drivers’ permit? The international drivers’ permit (IDP) basically translates your driver’s license into several languages, making it readable in different countries. The IDP is used by the police in case of a driving incident, and is not a required document from a rental company. Therefore, often you will find that you can rent a car without an IDP, but should you? If you are from a country outside the EU, in theory you should have one. They’re easy to get, inexpensive and they last a full year. Not having an International Drivers’ Permit means you could face a fine up to 400 euros, so we recommend just getting one. If you are from a country that is part of the EU, you do not need an international drivers’ permit. Related Article: “Unwritten Rules of the Road: How Italians Drive” What about the kids? In Italy, you must be at least 18 years of age to drive, with a valid license. As for the age of passengers, Italian Law states they must be over 5 years old and be big enough to sit in a stable, balanced way. Don’t do this… only two people allowed per vespa in Europe! Are vespas safe? Scooters are thought of as being a safer alternative to other vehicles since they are smaller, lighter, and easy to operate. While this is true, you are still sharing the road with cars and are more vulnerable to injury. The key to safely operating a scooter is to always be aware of other vehicles on the road! If you follow that one piece of advice, you will have a great and safe time on your scooter. Related Article: “Should I Rent a Scooter in Rome?” Pick out the right scooter With your phone, document any scratches or dings by making a quick video. Stay close to the bike, and focus on the front wheel, sides, and windshield. This will leave no question to the condition of the scooter prior to your rental. Check the locks on the seat and top box of the vespa, are they secure? Scooters are a popular target for thieves, so don’t leave anything of real value overnight. Is the scooter comfortable? Depending on the size, you may want a bigger or smaller scooter that fits you comfortably. Give the scooter the eye test. Are the tires full? Are the hand brakes springy and responsive? Are the lights damaged, or the seat ripped? How to ride a scooter Take the scooter off of the kickstand on the left side by blocking it with your right foot, then use your right hand to grip the handle on the back of the bike. You shouldn’t have to push too hard, just gently rock it forward and slightly upwards. Sit down on the bike. If you are short, you can lean on your foot to keep your balance. Make sure your helmet is on, and adjust your mirrors so you can see just to the sides and behind you. Turn the key to the ON position. In order to start the engine, the brake must be activated. So, using either your left or right hand, squeeze the brake, then push the starter button on the right side. The engine should fire right up! Let go of the brake, and slowly accelerate by turning the throttle slightly. Start slow until you get a feel for how your bike will respond. Keep your feet off to the side until you gain a little speed, and put them on the platform. How you turn the bike depends on how fast you are going. When going slow, use your hands and arms to turn the bike. Once you build up some speed, all you have to do is lean your hips in whatever direction you want to go. When going fast, you barely use your hands to turn, just your body weight! For braking, each handle controls either the front or back tire of the vespa. The front brake is operated with your right hand, and the left is for the back tire. The front brake will make you stop faster, and shift all of the weight from the front to the back. Try to get in the habit of using both brakes at the same time. When parking, bring the bike to a full stop and get off. Put your right foot on the kickstand, and push straight down. Turn the handlebars all the way to the left, then turn the keys to the left to lock them. If you have a chain, secure the scooter and you’re done! Related Article: “10 Essential Tips for the Newbie Scooter Driver in Rome” We hope this guide will help give you the confidence you need to ride a vespa, whether its your first time or just a refresher. Continue on with the second part of the guide: Should I Rent a Scooter in Rome?
Vespa in Rome
Driving a scooter in Rome is a lot of fun! In order to stay safe, we reveal the top 10 basic scooter rules to follow when in Rome.
Take a look online and you’ll notice there are more than a few articles out there that advise against riding a scooter in Rome. Maybe one of your friends, or your aunt Karen warned you against driving, period! The reputation Rome has for crazy driving is a tad bit undeserved. Sure, there is a bit of chaos– but once you ride around for just a few minutes, you realize there is a definite order and flow to the perceived madness. Now, clearly we are biased. I mean, you’re reading this article on a scooter rental website, what do you expect? But hear us out–its not as bad as you’ve read! So without further adieu, here are the reasons you definitely should rent a scooter in Rome! They are incredibly fun This one is fairly obvious, but worth pointing out. Easy to drive, lightweight, comfortable. Plus, I challenge you to find something more Italian than the iconic red Vespa. You can’t! Even your typical morning commute to work can be fun. This is why there are more vespas in Rome than any other city in the world! The Romans are on to something, living their best Dolce Vita! Need a driving refresher? Read our article “How to Ride a Scooter” for a quick recap. You save a ton of time Rome is unfortunately saddled with heavy traffic, especially in the morning. How rude that ancient Romans designed civilization’s first roads without cars in mind, right? This means the best way to be on time reliably is on a scooter. Rome is huge, with something ancient and breathtaking seemingly in every corner of the city. Save yourself some time and plot out an efficient vespa route so you can experience it comfortably, without spending half the time walking or waiting forever on public transport. Or, just download one of our free google map routes here. You can park anywhere Ok, you can’t park anywhere but compared to a car, you practically have an infinite amount of options. Rome has free designated parking spots for scooters all throughout the city. Look for spots with white stripes the size of a vespa. On a scooter you can also park for free in the blue striped area, just make sure you don’t hog an entire space. You will quickly see that Italians follow a very different set of unwritten driving and parking rules from the rest of the world. We advise you NOT to do what they do! For the full, uncensored list, see our guide here. You can drive in the city center Another little known advantage over renting a car is that you can drive in the restricted areas of the historical city center. These areas are reserved strictly for taxis, buses, local traffic and scooters. You’ll notice the slightly confusing signs that say “VARCO NON ATTIVO”(cars allowed) or “VARCO ATTIVO” (cars not allowed). These areas are heavily monitored by cameras, so if you are in a car keep your eyes peeled! With a vespa, don’t worry about it. They are allowed everywhere, at any time. So what are you waiting for? Get on that vespa and have fun! For many people, it becomes a highlight of their trip to Rome on the back of a vespa, especially if you drive it to the beach! Have a good story? Comment below! Also, check back next week when we publish 10 Tips for Driving a Scooter in Rome.
Driving in Italy is different than driving anywhere else in the world. Sure, Italy has all the traffic laws you’d expect; red means stop, green means go, you drive on the right-hand side of the road. That is pretty much where the similarities end! Don’t worry though, after you’ve been on the road for a little bit you quickly see there is a defined method and flow to the perceived madness; despite how different it is to your home country. Please keep in mind, these are just observations of the way of the road in Italy…these rules should not be followed by anyone…except for maybe Italians! Create your own lane This is the most important rule for you to master while driving in Italy. Essentially, if there is space on the road for a car, that space must be filled. Marked lanes are merely suggestions–it doesn’t matter if it says left turn only, straight only, double line, etc–if there is room, then go! Create your own parking space Parking is incredibly scarce in Italy, especially in bigger cities. You’ll rarely see an SUV or big truck in the city center. In order to cope with this problem, just create your own space! The catch is, you gotta put on your hazard lights, and you really shouldn’t take any longer than a couple minutes wherever you’re going. Just keep your ears open for somebody laying on the horn if you blocked them in. Create your own space–for parking Parallel parking is hard, especially at night on a narrow street. And lets face it, theres no bigger spot than one thats the precise size of your car, so don’t be afraid to ram into the car behind or in front of you as you park. If you don’t believe me, look at any car bumper in Rome and you’ll see them completely scuffed up due to this common practice. Stop in the middle of the street If you see someone in the street you know, you’re obligated to stop and talk to them. It doesn’t matter if the road is only as wide as one car, with a lineup behind you…stop to chat and ignore the crescendo of honks coming from behind. Invite them out for dinner! Be prepared with our guide, “Italian Food Rules Explained” Honk for every occasion Honking is very appropriate in Italy. It can mean anything from “Get the hell out of my way!” to “ciao bella” to “the light is green!” Have fun with it, the horn is an extension of your voice in Italy. Overtake other cars–at any point in the street It doesn’t matter where you are on the street, whether its a roundabout, square, intersection, turning left or right, in heavy traffic or no traffic at all. The main goal is to pass the guy in front of you. Turn signals optional Certainly everybody can relate to people not using their turn signals while driving, regardless of what country you are from. In Italy, it is taken to a whole new level. It is incredibly rare to see anybody using a turn signal, so try to blend in and forget about the blinkers. Roundabout etiquette At a roundabout in Italy, the unwritten rule is the first person in the roundabout has the right of way. Also, its not exactly shocking to see people parked on a roundabout. Tailgating Roads are smaller and narrower in Italy, and getting stuck at a red light could really add to your commute. Therefore, you have to get comfortable tailgating. In most countries, this is very rude but here it is just how people drive, so try not to take offense. Highway on-ramps The on ramps are unique because they are much shorter than most countries. Therefore, many people use the on ramps to simply get on the highway, and utilize the shoulder to build up enough speed to merge! Scooters own the streets Scooter drivers seem to have their own set of rules. They weave in and out of traffic, drive on the opposite side of the road to bypass congested traffic, and jockey for position at the front of traffic lights. You’ll see them parked on sidewalks, bus areas, grass, just about everywhere. You remember how to drive them, right? Obviously, following any of these unwritten rules will be the fastest way to get a hefty fine, or worse; you could get in an accident… so in this case do not do as the Romans do! In order to keep your sanity, just realize that this is how you drive in Italy. They are not being jerks, or cutting you off because they think you are a bad driver. Its just how it works here! Try it out their way, who knows maybe you will like it! Want more Italian rules? Read “Italian Food Rules Explained”