MY ARMS are wrapped tightly around the waist of a guy I just met and I’m fighting the urge to close my eyes as he weaves his Vespa through multiple lanes of traffic on the packed streets circling Piazza Venezia.
Italian drivers seem to think of road markings as suggestions rather than rules, which explains the five cars travelling through three lanes. It must also be why no one bats an eyelid as we suddenly zip out from behind a Fiat to balance in the narrow gap between a van and a Mercedes-Benz, all in the name of beating Rome’s notorious traffic.
Slowly, though, I learn to lean into the turn as we take a corner a little faster than the speed limit and my grip loosens as I get used to the bumpy rhythm of riding on cobblestone roads, so that by the end only one arm hangs on as the other takes photos. It seems as though the cavalier Italian attitude to road rules is contagious.
The Vespa belongs to Michele Bartolini, a born-and-bred Roman who’s showing me the sights on a Scooteroma food tour of the Eternal City.
A decade after first coming to Rome, I’m back and want to see the city from a new vantage point. As a backpacker who once stood dazed before the pedestrian crossings at Piazza Venezia, too scared to step out in front of cars that didn’t slow…