It was a pleasant January morning (yes, in January it was sunny and warm enough to do this) when the #winterinrome2018 group and I were getting ready for a scooter tour in Rome. The lovely Alexandra of exploreflorence, taking me by the arm, asked: “How do you feel?”. Since I’m never ashamed to admit my flaws, I told her that I was a bit nervous. You know, Rome traffic, a vespa… She reassured me. She had already joined a tour with Scooteroma, it was awesome, nothing to fear, the drivers were super cautious. She really convinced me. I had just met her, but I trusted her. Why? First of all, because she had that very “decent person” air. I mean it as a compliment, just to be clear. Secondly, she told me I had lipstick on my teeth. Who does that? I do, normally. But many people don’t. And you end up realizing it only when you get home and see you horrible self on the mirror. So I stopped worrying. Thank you, Alexandra!
The Scooteroma tour started at The Beehive hostel, where we stayed the winter in Rome days. Annie, the tour leader, was there: leather jacket, USA flag scooter helmet, red lipstick and a load of enthusiasm, together with her squad of vespisti. The vespista is of course the vespa driver. They are all vespa experts, owners of vespas of different colours and periods. Even if the black ones were the more popular.
My vespista Valerio’s vespa was black too. I had a great time with him. He was very easy going, a keen driver, and enthusiast singer and an historian. So I spent my tour listening to his brief history facts about Rome and his popular Roman songs. Moreover, as an history and art lover, he travels each year to a different Italian city. And I think this is very admirable. He visited Padua (my city) too. And he spoke highly of her. And that’s definitely a way to conquer my approval. 😀
Vespa Tour in Rome
First we moved away from the Termini station area. After a few minutes, we were chatting, we past a curve, and… the Colosseum was there, right in front of us. We drove along it, and then away from the city centre and towards the Terme di Caracalla. Before that, I had only seen the Terme in the Concert of Pavarotti, Carreras and Domingo (go, Plàcido!).
Another ride and we stopped at the Druso Arch, just at the beginning of the Appian way. Place were only a few tourist arrive, since it is very difficult to reach by public transportation. In the close Porta di San Sebastiano there’s the City Walls Museum. The Aureliane Walls were built around 270 by emperor Aureliano to defend Rome by Barbarians. They are nowadays still well preserved and about 12km long.
Did you know that… from the Museum you can access a 350 meters long walkway on the walls?
We took via Appia, along the Caffarella Park. As Valerio told me, many people get surprised by how much green there is in Rome, just outside the centre. I was surprised too.
A walk along the Appian way
To be honest, even more surprising was to drive along the ancient Appian way. We stopped near the Cecilia Metella Mausoleo and had a taste by foot of the “regina viarum” (the queen of the streets). Built at the end of IV century before Christ, via Appia is considered one of the greatest engineering works of the ancient world. And, as is easily deducible by my experience, many stretches are still passable.
The thing that hit me the most was something Annie said: the signs of the passage of ancient Rome wagons are still visible. Isn’t it amazing?
And off to another destination: rione San Saba, a lovely neighbourhood made of stairways, sloping towards the walls or towards the Testaccio area, houses with gardens and courtyards, small piazzas with trees and shops. One of those was Il pane di San Saba, a bakery/café were we enjoyed a tasteful pause enjoying the sunrays.
The leafy piazza, with groups of people chatting here and there, the newspapers kiosk, the very café where we stopped, did not feel like Rome at all. I felt like I was in a yesteryear village. I expected to see a street gelato vendor at any minute. Or a kid playing with a wooden spinning top toy, like in my father’s youth tales. Once working-class neighbourhood, it is now one of the most valued area where to buy an apartment. It is green, quiet and it has all kind of services. I really liked its vibes.
Along the river
Finally, we enjoyed a ride to the along the Tiber river, with clear blue sky and people staring at our rumbling motley vespa group. It was so beautiful to see Sain Peter’s dome and Castel Sant’Angelo passing by. I felt so special.
I was really thrilled in the end and I liked it so much that I decided to write this post expressly to recommend this experience to you all. I hope you will enjoy it as I did. 🙂