Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vespa Road Trip: Italy

We celebrated our 1-year anniversary this month. It was last summer that we flew to Italy for our honeymoon, rented a Vespa LX500 in Rome, bought a map, and picked a direction. We decided to go south towards Naples not really knowing the area, but we were sure we'd find stuff we liked - it's Italy! The road trip down the Tyrrhenian Sea about 5 days. It was wonderful and a great lesson on teamwork and relying on each other.

So where did this idea come from? The husband has owned a scooter for years and rides daily. The previous summer we took our Vespa on a road trip from our house in Bay View to our friend's house in Chicago. That mini-road trip taught us how to pack and got us ready for the Italy road trip. However, Rome is nothing like Milwaukee or Chicago when it comes to Vespa riding. There are seemingly no traffic rules. Or speed limits. And incredibly loud. So we developed hand signals, he drove, I directed and watched out for traffic. Working together like that was a perfect start to a marriage. And we couldn't have picked a better location.....

For packing, we left our big suitcases at the Hotel in Rome and only brought our packing bags (a must for any travel!) with just a few changes of clothes and stuffed those in the top case and hung one under the seat. I carried a tote bag. In retrospect, I should have had a cross-body bag, but it worked. We took our travel books just in case but barely needed them.

We left Rome heading east towards Fiumicino. We just followed the shoreline roads south along the coast. We hit Ostia, Anzio, Nettuno, Latina, Saubaudia - all small sleepy towns in wooded farmland areas.

After we reached Punta Rossa, a large rock formation and bend in the landscape, the terrain turned into more rocks, cliffs, towns built into the cliffs, and the sea was more green. It was beautiful. Terracina, Sperlonga, Gaeta, and Formia were all amazing. By this point in the trip we were getting tired. We relied on Matt's driving skills, not mine. We passed a million beach clubs. Next time we'll stop and relax for a few hours on the drive.

We stayed a night in Formia at the Grande Albergo Miramare, swam in their private beach, and walked in the seaside gardens. It was very homey- that is if your home is a seaside castle.

We were a little worn from the road, but Gaeta was the highlight of my trip. It's a small town carved into a small cape. The buildings were from the 1400's, the town was mentioned in the Illiad, the olives are world famous. The streets were all cobbled and yachts lined the shoreline. I could have lived there. Really.

Some tips if you do this type of road trip: Riding on the back for long periods tends to lead to charlie horses and muscle cramps because of the position, so stop and walk around when you can. Bring sunscreen, scarves, hats; Italy in July was a scorcher. Remember, with the sea on one side of you, it's pretty hard to get lost, so venture out....if the road looks nice, take it. Learn the language (or at least a few phrases) because you'll need to find a bathroom, ask for directions, or check into a hotel. English is not commonly spoken outside of the major cities. And lastly, just enjoy it. It sounds simple, but when you work long weeks and are comfortable in your life it's hard to let go. But just do it.


  1. Oh my goodness, SWOON! What an amazing trip. I lived in Milan for about 6 months right after college. I'd spend every vacation penny I have just to go back to Italy again and again. I am sure you have incredible memories. Happy Anniversary!

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