How to Drive a Vespa Scooter

Shortly after the end of the second world war, Enrico Piaggio designed a motorcycle with easy-to-change tires, that is comfortable to ride and does not get the driver dirty. Piaggio named the scooter Vespa because it looked like a wasp, which is what "vespa" means in English.

Whether you rent it to drive around Italy or you bought one for getting around town, learning how to properly drive your Vespa scooter is important.

Find the fuel tap on your Vespa. It is a switch beneath the front of your seat. Slide it from the far left position, which is closed, to the middle position, which is open. The far-right position on the switch is the gas reserve tank, which is where you switch it when you hit the point that you need to go to the petrol station.

Pull the lever on the left completely down to the handle bar to engage the clutch and rotate the left handle toward the front one position from the furthest it rotates toward the rear. The furthest position toward the rear is first gear, and one position forward from that is neutral. The gears are marked with a line on the handle and the handlebars. Let go of the clutch lever.

Slide the key into the ignition on top of the headlamp and turn it to the on position. Hold the right handle on the handlebars, which is the throttle, pulled just slightly toward you and kick the kickstarter pedal by the right side of the rear wheel, with your right foot.

Press the clutch lever down, and turn the left handlebar to first gear. Keep holding the clutch in as you turn the throttle on the right handlebar slightly. Let the clutch out slowly and the Vespa starts to move.

Shift when you hit the maximum speed you feel comfortable going in first gear. Let go of the throttle, pull the clutch in and shift the gears so the arrow on the gear lever lines up with the marking for second on the handlebar. Repeat this process lining up the arrow with third gear, and so on, to move up through the gears.

Apply the brake lever on the right handlebar, as well as the brake pedal on the right side of the floor to slow down, and downshift by pulling the clutch and moving down one gear. Repeat this process until you get to second gear. Hold down the clutch on the left handlebar and the brake on the right handlebar to stop the Vespa. Shift into neutral. If you come to a stop while in gear and the clutch is not engaged, your scooter stalls.