How to Rent a Vespa: Everything You Need to Know

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


Credit or Debit Card

Reserve your Vespa in Rome here.

For Scooters or motorcycles above 125 cc:

Motorcycle license


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

  1. 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.
  2. Sit down on the bike. If you are short, you can lean on your foot to keep your balance.
  3. Make sure your helmet is on, and adjust your mirrors so you can see just to the sides and behind you.
  4. Turn the key to the ON position.
  5. 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! 
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. 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? 1

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