When in Rome, ride a Vespa

By George Hobica in Chicago | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-11 07:58

There are many ways to see a city when we travel. Some of us take guided tours by bus, some set off on our own by public transit, and some of us just walk aimlessly, discovering new things. No matter which way we go, we risk looking like that currently-out-of-fashion word, a "tourist".

But here's an idea: When in Rome, see the city as the Romans do - on a Vespa.

I stayed not long ago in a hotel in Rome, where the concierge handed me a brochure for a company called My Vespa. In addition to renting Vespas they offer several tours, with clients scooted around Rome with an experienced driver.

The hotel lies a short distance from Vatican City, the Villa Borghese, the National Gallery of Modern Art, and the Trevi Fountain, among other wonders.

I did some research online before booking and a 90 percent "excellent" rating on TripAdvisor sold me on My Vespa.

I took the "Panoramic Rome by Vespa" tour with a driver although it's also possible to drive oneself for less. Because you're on a Vespa, Rome's challenging traffic is more navigable. So in a half day you see all the major sites plus a lot of little-visited ones that even some Romans might not know about. And because you're on a Vespa, you can snap photos at will, like a paparazzi, weaving in and out of traffic like a local.

The drivers love what they do and have a wealth of knowledge. They're also patient whenever you'd like to stop and snap a picture or ask a question and they all speak good English if that's your language preference.

Back at the hotel, the concierge asked how I liked the adventure. By the smile on my face he could tell that the answer would be "molto bene!" The best part? I felt like I had seen Rome not as a tourist but as a local, driven around by a friend and not a tour guide, and I found myself thinking that all cities should offer this experience, although what is more synonymous with Rome than a Vespa.

Tribune News Service

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