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One of the best ways to see Italy is on a scooter. Also known as a vespa, which translates into "wasp" because of the noise it makes, a scooter should be driven with due consideration for local conditions. In large and crowded cities, Italian traffic can be chaotic at the best of times and for a visitor it can be downright dangerous. If you do decide to see Italy like a local and want to hire a scooter, you need to know the basic rules before you arrive in the country.
Scooters under 50cc generally require only a valid ID, although it is recommended you carry a valid driving licence if you have one. A valid car driving licence is required for all scooters between 50cc and 150cc. A motorcycle licence is not required. Anything over 150cc requires a valid motorcycle licence. Italian law requires that you either have a licence recognised by the European Union (including a UK licence) or an International Driver's Permit, which can be arranged through motoring organisations such as the Automobile Association. Take both your valid driving licence and your International Driver's Permit with you to Italy as the rental agency or Italian police may ask to see both.
Age limits for hiring a scooter will vary between rental agencies so check in advance. The minimum age for a 50cc scooter can be as low as 14 years of age, provided the person is supervised by another driver of at least 18 years of age. Similarly, for scooters between 50cc and 125cc, the minimum age can be as low as 16 years, again provided the person is supervised by another driver of at least 18 years of age. The minimum age for renting a scooter over 125cc ranges between 18 and 21 years of age.
Rules vary between the different rental agencies so check in advance. Normally, passengers are not allowed on scooters under 50cc but they are allowed on larger machines.
You will be required to take out insurance against third-party liability, and you may be offered the option to take out insurance to cover the driver and the passenger of the scooter. Check your own travel insurance to ensure that you are not invalidating it by riding a scooter. Finally, understand your exact liability in the event of an accident, damage or theft before you agree to rent.
You are normally required to pay by credit card, although you can pay cash if you provide a credit card as insurance against damage or theft. If you have an accident or the scooter is stolen and you are required to pay an excess, this amount will automatically be deducted from your credit card. If you hire a particularly expensive scooter, the rental agency may ask you to provide two credit cards to ensure they can recover any costs relating to damage or theft.
- Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images