vespa in florence

hello have watched your show for years and love it. we are travelling to florence, italy and would love to participate in a guided vespa tour. do you have any comments on this? we are two couples in our late 50's and one member is 69 and active. if it is not such a good idea we would like to know now and not make any plans for this activity. we will be in florence from may 11th to may 19th, the rome from 19th o 27th. we assume a vespa tour is not recommended. thanks every so much bobbie
bkhofler@gmail.com

Posted by Ellen
Centennial, CO, USA
1396 posts

I did a quick google search and found this site for Vespa tours. However, you do need to heed the advise already given. If you do NOT have experience riding a motorcycle or Vespa, this is NOT the best way to start. http://www.tuscany-biketours.com/tour-vespa-tours/ Take some lessons at a local shop, or at least go test drive a Vesapa/scooter before you go to make sure you can handle it. This tour is NOT in Florence, but rather around the town....much more enjoyable than dodging pedestrians. This is a start, I recommend you do your own google search and then contact the companies for reservations.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

More important question is, "Do you know how to ride a Vespa?"

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3344 posts

I grew up on a Vespa...in Florence... since the age of 14, so these are my questions. Have you ever ridden on a motorcycle or motor-scooter before? And in particular have you ever ridden one in city with a lot of traffic like here in San Francisco (or better yet, like Manhattan) or with a hordes of tourists walking in the streets? If you have no prior experience riding motorcycles I'd be careful. Florence (or any Italian city for that matter) is no place to have your first start with motorcycles or anything with two wheels and an engine. I wouldn't want you to run into a bus or run over some tourists downtown Florence (although Florentines wouldn't mind if you could raze some tourists to the ground once in a while). If you have ridden motorcycles before, preferably in San Francisco. Then go for it.

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
5763 posts

Bobbie, you do realize that Rick Steves does not answer questions on this board, right?

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3344 posts

If it's out of Florence it will be a lot of fun. Although you'll have to battle the traffic before you reach out of town. Just test it here before you get there. The roads in the Chianti are narrow with a lot of curves, and the Via Chiantigiana (SS-222) has quite a bit of traffic too, especially on weekends. So you still need to be careful. Hitting an olive tree or a cypress is just as hard as hitting a bus.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

@Roberto, What are the licensing rules in Italy for riding a Vespa? Here in B.C., those with a regular Driver's License can operate motorcycles with an engine size of up to 50 cc. For larger engine sizes (on Vespa's or other), a full motorcycle license is needed. I rode a motorbike when I was younger but at this point don't have a motorcycle license. I've thought about getting one again, but it's such a darn nuisance these days (and expensive) because of the graduated licensing program and other requirements. Cheers!

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3344 posts

Ken, When I was a teenager all you needed in Italy to ride a motorcycle with a 50cc engine was to be at least 14 year old (unless you were in Naples, where the only requirement to drive anything, even a big rig, was to be alive and tall enough to see the road) At 16 you could ride a motorcycle up to 125cc, but you also needed a drivers' license type A (motorcycle DL). At 18, with the same license A you could ride more powerful motorcycles (for a car you needed a DL type B which you could get at 18y.o.). Nowadays things have changed and even for a 50cc you needed (besides being 14 y.o.) a driving certificate called "certificate all'idoneita' di guida ciclomotori (or CIGC). But Italians call it 'Patentino' (little drivers' license). Effective this past January however, Italy adopted the EU directive on drivers' licenses which requires a full blown drivers' license also for 50cc. It's called Drivers' License type AM. I don't know what the requirements are but I think it requires a multi question test and a practice test on a motorcycle. No matter which laws are now in effect, if you are in Naples you are exempt. The only rule in Naples remains the same: you have to be alive and tall enough to see the road in front of you. I've seen 10 year olds driving huge trucks in Naples, so I don't expect any changes there.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

@Roberto, Thanks for the info! I'll be back in Florence in a few months, but don't have any plans to rent a Vespa on this trip. However, I may take a Segway tour this time. This is good information to file for future reference. Thanks!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

RoninRome has article on vespas in Rome. Interesting reading.

Posted by bobbie
el sobrante, California, United States
2 posts

thank you everyone! all of this information is very helpful. we are planning to take a few lessons in san francisco http://www.scootnetworks.com/ we drive the city often, so this should help to acquaint ourselves with crazy traffic. any other information on rome and florence is most welcomed. we will be there the middle of may.
bobbie