Exploring Rome on a Vespa Tour

Rome is called the Eternal City for a good reason – there are ruins and ancient history around every corner and you could never see it all in one weekend but I was going to give it a good go anyway on my perfect weekend in Rome!

One of the most fun ways to see a lot in a short space of time was exploring the Italian capital on an iconic Vespa!  Rome in summer is really touristy and the main sights are pretty crowded, so I loved being able to get off the beaten track on a Vespa tour and to explore so much more of Rome than would be possible on foot.

Renting a vespa in Rome! Pretty Cool!
Renting a vespa in Rome! Pretty Cool!

We started out tour in style with a spin around the incredible icon of Rome – the Colosseum before heading out of Rome and discovering the huge Roman baths of Caracalla – the Terme di Caracalla. We saw no other tourists that had made it out this way and our knowledgeable LivItaly guide, Rachel explained the role of the bathhouse played in ancient Rome including all the sordid details!

The Roman Baths of Caracalla in Rome
The Roman Baths of Caracalla in Rome

Next we drove through the city some before before stopping to overlook Circus Maximus and Palatine Hill. The Palatine Hill was where the Roman emperors used to live and Rachel bought to life how the Circus Maximus would have been when it was the main entertainment venue before the Colosseum.

By the Circus Maximus on a Vespa!
By the Circus Maximus on a Vespa!

Next we stopped on Aventino Hill where if you look through the keyhole in an unassuming courtyard you can see 3 countries at once (Rome, the Vatican City and the Embassy of Malta) I wonder if the did it on purpose!?

However, the word is out and this is no longer such a secret spot and we had to queue up behind a line of tourists all waiting for their look inside the keyhole.

Looking through the keyhole to St Peter's Basilica from Aventino Hill
Looking through the keyhole to St Peter’s Basilica from Aventino Hill

We drove through the cobbled streets of Rome, through authentic neighbourhoods where Romans were going to Sunday mass and the charismatic streets of Trastevere.

Then we breezed alongside the Lungotevere, the road that stretches alongside the Tiber River, stopped at the Ponte Fabricio (the oldest bridge in Rome, from 62 BC) and learned about the legends of the Isola Tiberina, an island in the middle of the Tiber in Rome that is famous for being the site of an ancient temple to Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine and healing.

Following our guide through the historic streets of Rome
Following our guide through the historic streets of Rome

Probably my favourite part of the whole tour was when we whizzed past St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican City (you could stop but I had been in already the day before) and then snaked up to Gianicolo Hill to Piazza Garibaldi.

Enjoying the views over Rome
Enjoying the views over Rome from Gianicolo Hill

From here you can see great views all over Rome on one side and the Vatican to the other. We arrived just at noon when the loud blast of the canon shot every day at midday nearly scared me half to death!

I could have easily spend more time up here taking in the views with an ice cream or a coffee but Rachel wanted to show us her favourite fountain in Rome and it was well worth it. Rome is a city of many beautiful fountains but I really loved this one, the Fontana dell Acqua Paola (or “Er Fontanone” which means “the big fountain”)

Whizzing past historic fountains on a vespa tour around Rome!
Whizzing past historic fountains on a vespa tour around Rome!

At the end of the tour we drove through the quaint and historic Monti neighbourhood and past the modern Vittoria Emmanuel building and the Piazza Venezia (this is the busiest/ scariest part of the driving saved for the end of the tour but on a Sunday it was not that busy and when you’ve driven through Mumbai, Rome is nothing!)

How to do a Vespa tour of Rome

We arranged the Vespa tour through local tour operator LivItaly who sorted out the Vespa hire and showed us around the Eternal City.

We took the Vespa tour on a Sunday morning which turned out to be a good choice as the traffic was less busy. As Kevin and I have ridden motorbikes a lot on Asia we felt confident at riding one through Rome but if you are not confident, then you can go on the back of your guide’s bike and just enjoy the ride.

Whizzing around Rome on a Vespa tour!
Whizzing around Rome on a Vespa tour!

You could just rent a bike and explore on your own but I would highly recommend getting a guide to show you around the highlights of Rome if you don’t want to get lost and actually want to know about the places you are seeing.

We were really impressed with our knowledgeable and super friendly LivItaly guide, Rachel it was almost like having a local friend (who is also an expert in Roman history!) showing you around and her knowledge really brought to life the amazing sights we saw. We also really enjoyed exploring the Colosseum and Ancient Rome with LivItaly.

The only downside of the tour was that it felt a little rushed at times and I would have preferred to have been able to go inside some of the places like the Baths of Caracalla and spend a bit more time chilling out and taking in the views but there wasn’t really time as we only had 3 hours for the tour – perhaps look into having a full day tour and taking more time.

By the way: I was a guest of LivItaly but all views and opinions are my own.

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