12 Ways to Fall in Love with Rome

THIS STORY WON 1ST PRIZE IN THE ‘MAGAZINE’ CATEGORY AT THE ITALIAN TOURIST BOARD TRAVEL WRITING AWARDS 2014. IT ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE SEPTEMBER 2014 EDITION OF LONELY PLANET TRAVELLER (lonelyplanet.com/magazine)

Vespas in Rome

Vespas in Rome

RIDE A VESPA

Ancient Rome may have been built on the principle of straight roads, but all that went out the window long ago. This is a city where alleyways zig-zag manically up the hillsides and where everything from the ice-cream van to the hearse gets driven like a dodgem. According to Claudio Serra, there is only one way to navigate this pandemonium.

‘In Rome our streets are crazy – the only way to reach everywhere is on a Vespa,’ he insists. ‘You can park a Vespa outside the Pantheon; you can drive it along the motorway. It means freedom.’

In addition to running a small Vespa museum, Claudio offers Vespa-back tours of Rome and private scooter hire from his store near the Colosseum. Riders whoosh through the many species of roads in Rome: the multi-lane highways that squeeze through gaps in ancient city walls; back streets where laundry lines flaps overhead; and the confusing roads that end at a piazza – before re-emerging on the other side, as if regaining a lost train of thought.

Vespa drivers stay eerily composed as they weave through the traffic – perhaps because, as Claudio points out, they are sitting, ‘as comfortably as if they are in their own living room’.

Rates for scooter hire at Bici & Baci begin at £12 per hour; bicibaci.com
Cycling along the Appian Way

Cycling along the Appian Way

CYCLE OVER ROMAN COBBLES ON THE APPIAN WAY