10 Essential Tips for the Newbie Scooter Driver in Rome

If you’re new to scooter riding, or want to learn about Roman scooter etiquette, here are some essential tips to help get you started on the right foot.

Avoid getting a traffic fine

By a long shot, the most common fine received on a vespa is for driving in the bus/taxi lane. These parts of the road are monitored by cameras, rather than police.

These lanes are painted on the road itself, in yellow or white letters that say TAXI/BUS. Sometimes you will see a small sign on the side of the road, but those are rare.

The other thing that never fails to get a Roman meter maid’s heart pumping is when they see a rental scooter parked on the sidewalk. Sure, hundreds of locals park theirs on the sidewalk, but in this case don’t do as the Romans do, you’ll probably get a ticket!

Helmets are Mandatory

Its against the law to not wear a helmet in Rome. And you already know that wearing a helmet greatly increases your safety, and could save your life. So come on, just wear it.

Know your scooter’s limits

Most vespas are not meant to be driven super fast, especially the ones you rent in Rome. The real key is to learn how to go slow.

Keeping your balance during heavy traffic is the best bike skill to master first. Going fast is the easy part!

Related article: “How to Ride a Scooter in Italy + EU

Look out for the exhaust pipe

A common accident for someone sitting on the back of the bike is to burn their leg on the exhaust pipe of the scooter.

Obviously this doesn’t feel good, and could earn you a trip to the hospital! Even though it is pretty tucked away, always be aware of the tailpipe as you get off the scooter.

Keep your bag or purse under your seat

This will help you keep your balance as you ride.  Hang your stuff on the little hidden clip under the bike seat.

This tip is especially helpful if you are going to ride out to one of the dozens of beaches or pools around Rome!

Avoid highway driving

At this time, you cannot drive on the GRA or the Est motorway (Tangenziale est) by a scooter 125cc or below. Really, you probably wouldn’t even want to due to the smaller wheels of a vespa. Everywhere else is good to go, unless marked.

Want maps to all our favorite parts of Rome? Go here to download a free google map route.

Watch out for potholes

The scooter rider’s biggest nemesis–the pothole. Unfortunately, Rome is plagued with the things, so you have to be on the lookout.

Areas with long stretches of cobblestones are especially prone to them. If you hit one going too fast, you will definitely feel it!

Drive defensively

Always stay focused and aware of your surroundings!

If a car is in front of you, and starts to merge over into your lane or is tailgating you closely, be ready to change course.

Remember, you are the best defense against other drivers, and it should be your top priority to stay focused all the time.

Use the right gear

Covering your arms, hands and legs and feet is always a good idea.

Long sleeved shirts, gloves, jeans and close toed shoes (not flip-flops) will help protect your skin in case of an accident.

Bright colors will help visibility on the road and keep you safe.

Sunglasses help against the wind as well as any bugs that may fly across your path.

Depending on the season, you may want to stash a small raincoat and little cloth in the seat to be prepared!

If you are driving around in the summer, follow our guide “Roman Heatwave: Ways to Beat the Heat (that actually work)

Never drink and drive

You slow down your reaction time and put yourself at greater of a risk of having an accident.

More than half of all accidents on scooters and motorcycles involve alcohol. Don’t become a statistic!

That being said, always be prepared when ordering a meal with our guide “Italian Food Rules Explained

Next, read about the Unwritten Rules of the Italian Road.

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