i>“Quant’é bello andare in giro con le ali sotto piedi.” Little compares with the thrill of a ride on a motorino. Instead of chasing erratic bus and subway schedules, fighting traffic in a car, or watching a taxi meter tick away, riding a motorino is undoubtedly the most efficient mode of transportation in any Italian city.
Here are some tips on how to purchase a new scooter.
First, you’ll need the necessary documents (this is Italy!) for the purchase of any motorbike. Bring your permesso di soggiorno as well as proof of residency (Italian identity card) and a codice fiscale (fiscal code.)
Where to shop? Your choices are concessionari (official dealers), sub-concessionari (licensed dealers), and venditori autorizzati (authorized vendors). Though prices at official dealerships are higher, they provide repair service with original parts and longer warrantees and maintenance promises. Most brands offer a two-year assistance plan that may include 24 hour road side assistance from ACI (Italian Automobile Club). If in doubt, ask.
Despite what people say, size matters. An Italian (not international) driver’s license is necessary to drive a bike larger than 50cc. The 50cc models provide plenty of zip, have good gas mileage and are easier to maneuver. Go for a bike with larger wheels (16 inches) as they are easier to handle. Piaggio’s Liberty and Aprilia’s Scarabeo are two 50cc scooters that fit the bill.
Style matters in this country but be practical about add-ons. Don’t forget accessories such as side mirrors, a windshield and a storage compartment; these costs are additional but will make life easier.
Keep your body and your bike safe and secure. Besides putting padding between your head and the road, a helmet is required by law and riding without one comes with a heavy fine. In addition, a good quality chain lock for the frame, separate wheel lock, and an alarm are highly recommended to prevent theft.
Insurance is required by law to purchase any motorbike. Some dealers can arrange this, or you can get a policy on your own.
Start out slow, but go with the flow. First-time drivers should experiment with short trips during off-peak traffic hours. Get a friend who knows the Italian rules of the road to teach you the basics.
After a month with your new motorino, you’ll wonder how you survived without it. In bocca al lupo!