Friends of Scooteroma !!

Leslie & Greg from NYC, USA on a honyemoon scooter tour

Erik, Naketha & Corinna from Hollywood, USA

Giovanni, Giulia & Maria (their Italian names) from Holland

The 1st Scooteroma tour ever…Gabrielle, Monica, Brooke & Kristen from California, USA !!

Ben & Laura from Seattle, Washington

*They got engaged after the Scooter tour !!

The boys from Philly !!

Jan & Heike from Germany scootering around Roma

on a Vintage Vespa – oh ya !!

Kathy & Rick from California, USA

Sandy & Bryon from Australia

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Published in: on 23/01/2011 at 23:08  Comments (3)  

Valentino & Motorino

Valentino & Motorino.small

Photo taken of Scooter Guide Niki after a pool party ‘aperitivo’ in Roma filling up her SH 125 cc with gas and not sacrificing fashion while doing it….note the pink Valentino shoes.

If I wrote about Scooter Fashion properly I would need an entire blog not just a single entry.  I will say that most women in Roma don’t let the obstacles of two wheels stop their burgeoning fashion desires.  Now that summertime is in full bloom in the Eternal City you will see an array of fashions & outfits scootering around town.

With temperatures reaching plus 30 degrees Celsius jeans & long pants are not very ‘cool’ options.  Typically Italian women don’t wear shorts including this Italian-American so that leaves us with long skirts, sundresses and other chic & flowy delights to ponder.

It can be complicated wearing these summer items on the motorino because you can be caught between the speed of your scooter and the right catch of the hot summer’s wind.  With in moments you find yourself re-enacting the famous subway scene from Monroe’s ‘The Seven Year Itch’.

You have three choices:

1.) Sacrifice your fashion desires and wear pants which just sounds hot & ghastly to me.

2.) Every time the wind blows you frantically take steps to keep your dress from flying high above the ‘safety zone’ with the risk of killing yourself while doing it.

OR the third option which I choose almost every day:

Wear the dress, stay cool & feminine and don’t bother at all if the outfit flies, catches an eye and turns you into the perfect image of the Roman Holiday.

Published in: on 20/06/2009 at 13:54  Comments (1)  

Burnt Bikes

 

Burnt Scooters.small

I was leading a Scooter Tour last month on a Saturday and it just happened to be a national holiday so many of the streets of Rome were blocked off for parades & demonstrations.  I opted for a different route for this 1/2 day Scooter Tour and escorted my clients to the San Giovanni neighborhood of Rome.  We had a very Roman breakfast at the cafe’ famous for having the best Tiramisu in the world.  We stood at the bar while we downed our coffee & enjoyed our sweets.  Not shortly after we had arrived, we set off again on the scooters heading towards Porta Latina one of the ancient main gates of the Aurelian wall. 

Unexpectedly we came along this image photographed above.  An entire row of scooters, bicycles and even a Harley Davidson burnt to a crisp from a fire.  It was one of the most shocking things I have seen in Rome….as far as two wheels are concerned.  You can see in the background of the photograph that the people passing by are in the same shock as my clients and myself were.

Who knows what happened the night before.  I tend to be naive and look for the good in the world so I immediately said there must have been an accidental gasoline fire.  My client on the other hand who is a lawyer, father and definitely more worldly than me said….or maybe arson.

Oddio!! Who would do that? Who would intentionally set these beautiful scooters & bikes on fire.   Not only are they beyond cool but they are our only reliable mode of transportation.  Without your bike you can be lost in the Eternal City.

I snapped some photos with the intention of posting a photo and this story here.  Soon after the light turned green we continued along with the tour.  We passed thru Porta Latina and scootered down one of my favorite Roman roads. 

The image of the burnt scooters stayed with me the entire tour and the whole day to follow.  Weeks after I found myself on the same street.  To much of my surprise I found the same burnt scooters in the same spot.  No one had come to claim them, take them away or clean up the mess.

I said a little prayer for the scooter’s souls and wished their owners would have done differently with their remains.

Published in: on 04/06/2009 at 11:35  Comments (2)  

Nameless Vespa

crack-red-vespa-via-merulana1

I love how I encountered this red Vespa.  It was at the beginning of my official photo search in Rome.  I was actually driving not far from my house and the quintessential Roman Vespa rider toting a tea cup style helmet scooted right pass me.  I was just hopping on my Fly and I thought I gotta get a photo of that guy wearing that ridiculous yet pretty cool helmet & his red vintage Vespa.  By the time I caught up to him he was already parked and getting ready to walk away.  I drove up and said “Posso fare una foto con te e la tua Vespa?”  Who could say no to a fellow scooterer wearing a stars & stripes helmet…well he kindly replied ‘I am in a hurry but you can take photos of my Vespa without me.” I squealed “Siiiii, grazie!!”.  So I parked my motorino, grabbed my digital and started shooting away. 

It was almost better my new friend had to run because the manner in which he parked his scooter was priceless.  If you look at the photo there is a green object in the back. Well that is the public garbage receptacle here in Rome.  It is actually a genius design.  I like to say that Italians 99% of the time are more concerned with ‘form over function’ but in this case of waste management  I think they scored on both accounts.  I rarely do not get excited about trash cans but these Italian ones have a long bar at the bottom – a pedal if you will – that you step on and the top opens up so you can throw in your trash. It is brillant – your hands never have to touch the nasty public trash can ever.  The one exception is when the garbage men go on strike and it hasn’t been picked up in days perhaps weeks such as in the case of  Naples last Spring.

So here we have a red vintage Vespa parked in front of this trash can with a very fitting sign plastered to it’s side.  CRACK!! It is an advertisement for a conference about the failing economy…well I am not even gonna go their folks because Scooter Maven isn’t much of a politco.  I will say this though that the Italians are very worried about what is happening with the economy in the US of A and all around the world for that matter.  The crisi or crisis we would say in English has been happening in Italy for years and now that it has also hit the United States they are not feeling very good about the situation at all.

Right, getting back to our red vintage Vespa.  Well I took several photos that you don’t see here but if you did you would notice that this Vespa has no manufacture markings.  The Vespa logo on the front panel was no where to be found along with the model name which is always on the back side.  I guess 4o years of scootin’ round Roma has taken it’s toll on the aesthetic features of this machine. I am pretty sure that this is a Vespa 50 Special from the size and design.  It is a true Vespa because if you look closely on floor board of the scooter you see…a pedal.  That is what controls the rear brake and the lever on the left handlebar is controlling the clutch.  If you read my blog from Wednesday you learned that what are considered to be true Vespas by Roman standards are the ones with a manual transmission.  Once the automatic transmission was introduced the brake pedal was removed and was instead controlled by the left hand.

Well after I had captured all the photos I needed and admired this fine red vintage Vespa I left my Scooter Tours of Rome business card under the seat strap.  I thought my fellow Roman might want to know that I do this kind of stuff for a living and I am not just another crazy American testing out “Roamin’ Holiday” for a few hours.

Or am I? Nah…make that for a lifetime.

Published in: on 13/03/2009 at 18:58  Comments (1)  

Vespa in Rione Monti

white-vespa-colosseum

I found this white Vespa S125 cc on Via dei Serpenti in my favorite neighborhood of Rome – Rione Monti.  This area of town is the most ancient & was the first neighborhood of Rome.  Many of the most important monuments including the Roman Forum & my beloved Colosseum call this quarter their home. 

Literally a few steps from the Colosseum, in ancient times this area was called the Ancient Roman Suburra which literally means ‘inhabited area under the city’…we have adapted this Latin phrase to mean ‘inhabited area OUTSIDE the city’.  With that being said, Rione Monti is a quarter of the city which is ‘down’ under the main roads of Via Cavour & Via Nazionale.  It is best discovered on foot and as luck would have it it is FILLED with scooters since these small, one-way, characteristal Roman roads are not car-friendly at all. 

In the past this was the quarter where mostly poor people, unlawful locals and brothels were found.  Obviously it has had a makeover since these days of the past if Scooter Maven is hanging out there.

Now Rione Monti is what I call the NOLITA of Rome.  NOLITA is the acronym for North of Little Italy which can be found in my 2nd favorite town in the world – New York City. I love Rione Monti because you feel the pulse of the city. Like I already mentioned it is just steps away from the Colosseum with the coolest view of my most adored monument of Rome – just a sliver, a glimpse, a tiny yet very cool snapshot at what 1st century AD looked like.

If you look closely at the photo above you can see this image behind the windshield of the scooter…that is what inspired me to take the photo and post it on the blog.  Yes, the scooter is cool but the fact that it was right there on my favorite street in my favorite town in the world it didn’t really matter to me how the scooter looked as long as it was a Vespa.

This stomping ground for the young, hip and in-the-know reminds me of NOLITA because you have the history of the city and the sense of modern at the same moment.  I always describe it this way to my clients:  you have an traditional butcher shop that has been around for generations next to a very cool wine bar that serves up delicious wine by the 4 euro glass and both of these businesses have their signs hanging side by side on the green ivy covered 16th century facade.

Then you find a yummy sushi restaurant or Indian for that matter next to a leather artisan shop run by a 90 year old signora who makes the most gorgeous belts in the world – by hand.  Then on Via del Boschetto, you bump into the up and coming Dutch clothing designer that makes all her one of a kind pieces right there in her shop.

You might find yourself on the street where there is the old run-down antique jewelry shop that should have gone out of business ages ago neighboring the one of the best vintage clothing haunts in town named Pulp.

Need I say more?

Rione Monti is my NOLITA of Rome but more importantly a great place to stroll up & down the streets where the real suburban Romans lived.  Not to mention some great Vespa watching and a lesson on how beautifully Ancient Rome collides with the modern city.

Published in: on 12/03/2009 at 10:28  Leave a Comment  

Vespas in the Eternal City…

red-vespa-in-piazza

By now Vespas are synonymous with Italian culture along with pizza, the Trevi Fountain and Julius Cesar. The term Vespa is often misused.  Many Americans or I should say non-Italians refer to all scooters as Vespas which isn’t very correct.  A Vespa is a type of scooter made by Piaggio.  The funny truth is if you would ask an Italian about them they would say, “Well the old Vespa models are the true Vespas. These ones you see on the street today are posers.”  Why do they say that? Well, vintage Vespas weren’t automatic like the ones today.  You had to shift the gears and somehow this makes the new ones not as original – true and I guess for these image consciousness & motocentric precise Italians…less cool.

Well with that being said, you can find many original Vespas in Rome and all over Italy and I have taken a collection of photos of each type. True vintage Vespas and the newer flashier ones. 

It was hard to choose the first photo to post but I have gone with this red one.  It really doesn’t get any more Roman than this one.  A red vintage Vespa Special 50 cc.  The smallest of the Vespa scooters and scooters in general. For example, I drive a Piaggio Fly 50 cc.  It is made by the same manufacturer as a Vespa but I would NEVER call it a Vespa because it is the Fly model. 

I see this red Vespa 3-4 times a week.  It is always parked in the same piazza in Trastevere. A neighborhood in Rome which I often refer to as a cleaned up East Village where many artists, actors and of late many young American students call their home.  Historically it is a true Roman neighborhood located on the west bank of  the Tiber river and due to it’s location was primarily untouched by the Ancient Romans.  It has always been an area of town filled with working class families and churches nearly on every corner.  So it would make sense that you would find a true Vespa in a historically authentic Roman neighborhood.

I chose this red scooter to be the first photo of many to come because it is vintage and it is missing one of it’s mirrors which is unbelievably common for all scooters in general in this town.  I would categorize an authentic Roman scooter by saying it MUST have one of the mirrors missing.  Why is that? Because us scooterers weave in & out of traffic like little wasps…hence the name Vespa. It means wasp in Italian. The owner of Vespa chose this name because of the sound the Vespa scooter makes…that buzzing noise.  Plus you add the fact that it is flying all around town and what seems like over traffic I think there couldn’t be more of a fitting name for this type of scooter.

So we have the fact that it is vintage, parked in a piazza in Trastevere, has only one mirror in true Roman scootering tradition and lastly that on the front body of the Vespa there is a sticker.  Of what you ask? Of the Roma soccer team’s fan club’s location in Testacchio…another true Roman hangout not to mention Italy’s favorite past time – soccer. 

Whomever owns this scooter must be Italian and I would go as far to say a true Roman.

Published in: on 11/03/2009 at 14:14  Comments (1)  

Vespa across the pond…

Vespa in Italy

Vespa in Italy

Published in: on 11/02/2009 at 18:08  Comments (2)  

Manhattan Vespa

Vespa in NYC

Vespa in NYC

 

Published in: on 11/02/2009 at 17:50  Leave a Comment  

Annie’s Scooter Rules of the Road

1.) Never be afraid to use your horn.

2.) Always use your blinker.

3.) When scootering pass parked cars be careful of car doors opening.

And lastly the most important rule of them all:

4.) ‘Go slow to hurry up.’

Safe Scootering!!

Published in: on 10/02/2009 at 15:56  Leave a Comment  

Scooter Maven

ME

ME

“Minnesotan Mad about Italy” Annie’s love affair with Italy is in her blood. Born into an Italian-American family, she first experienced Italy over 10 years ago as a student in the University of Minnesota’s study abroad program. Her passion for the country was ignited immediately and she was determined to make Italia her permanent residence. It took a few years, but now Annie can proudly call Rome her home. Her love for everything Italian has turned into her career.

Leading private tours throughout all of the country, Annie owns and operates Rome and Tuscany Tours which specializes in private and customized tours.  Her specialty is her unique and exhilarating Scooter Tours of Rome!! With this blog Annie will share and showcase the beautiful, exciting & sometimes outrageous daily happenings of Rome on 2 wheels.

 

 

Published in: on 26/01/2009 at 05:42  Comments (2)