Exploring the Eternal City with Scooteroma

Our friend Jim wins the “coolest dad” award of 2017.  Not only did he bring his 14 year-old daughter Tess to Rome for Holy Week (with a close-up sighting of Pope Francis!), but he decided to give her something she’ll never forget: seeing the Eternal City from the back of a Vespa! Our friends Annie and Giovanni at Scooteroma set everything up for us.

We told Tess we were taking a special tour.  At the appointed hour, four scooters arrived in front of our apartment, ready to go.

Our knights on shining scooters arrive!

Tess was perhaps expecting a boring car or a dorky minivan to take us around. But when she saw the scooters, her face absolutely lit up! And, a few minutes later, we were off.

How to make your teenager smile — a ride on a Vespa! (Although now she wants one of her own.)

Led by the affable Jacopo, we first zipped to one of Rome’s oldest churches, San Giorgio in Velabro. Jacopo explained how this ancient church, like many in Rome, was built by re-using materials of ancient Roman (i.e., pagan) temples.  We also discussed the Arch of Janus, which practically stands next to the church.

The interior of San Giorgio in Velabro.

Jacopo then pointed out something we’d never noticed before, just across from the church…

A mystery, explained to us by Jacopo

This was an entrance to the Cloaca Maxima, the massive ancient sewer that enabled Rome to become… Rome.  It was insights like this, which happened several times during the tour, that made the day so interesting, even for those of us who know Rome pretty well.

A short scoot later, we found ourselves admiring the Circus Maximus, with that beautiful view of the Palatine Hill in the distance.

At the Circus Maximus

Next up was a stop to see the Baths of Caracalla, where Jacopo talked about how critical water supply was to Rome, and what happened when that supply was cut off when Rome was attacked. He explained how the water supply later affected how Renaissance-era Rome developed.

At the Baths of Caracalla, amidst the magnificent umbrella pines of Rome

We scooted up the Aventine, where we were treated to terrific views from the beautiful Orange Garden:

The Orange Garden


The beautiful view from the Orange Garden

After a pit stop for gelato at one of our favs, we headed out to ride on bit of the Via Appia to the Arch of Drusus.  Jacopo discussed the importance of the ancient road systems, and the rise of the ancient walls surrounding the Eternal City.

The Arch of Drusus, on the Appian Way

We ended our tour on the Gianicolo, with another amazing view, before being dropped off to explore Trastevere.

We cannot recommend Scooteroma highly enough. Tess declared it the favorite part of her trip (sorry, Pope Francis!), both fun and interesting. The non-teenagers in our group were a bit apprehensive about riding scooters through Rome, but our guides (pictured at the top of this post — from left to right: Simone, Jacopo, Mimmo, and Michele) ensured our absolute safety.  Soon we all felt comfortable zipping through the Eternal City (although my wife Laura insisted upon holding tightly onto her driver the entire time, perhaps because, as she later admitted, he was “quite bello”). Our guides were all charming and provided an interesting, running commentary on the various sights and neighborhoods we visited and drove through. We toured on a Sunday, when traffic is the quietest, so we suggest trying to do a tour that day. It was simply terrific when we did it, and we look forward to more tours in the future! In the meantime, enjoy my little video of our wonderful day with Scooteroma: