By Caitlin Frost.
If you've been warned by your mother never to get on the back of any man's motorbike, your first time breaking this rule you are thinking about safety. Which means absolutely no shorts. Which is fine because the zipper on those cheap hot pants you've been wearing all summer broke last weekend while dancing at Gazometro. So jeans it is. It's fall-ish weather anyway.
Leotards have made a come-back in recent years and you're up on fashion so you have a black one. Long sleeves and skin-tight. Perfect for under that years-old leather jacket you saw at a thrift store in Santa Cruz and just had to have even though it gets a little tight when around the elbows.
Jeans, leotard, leather jacket.
If those visions your mother has of you flying off the back of a scooter into traffic while circling Piazza Venezia do come true, at least you've been smart enough to cover-up. (Even if you have to ask the guy to buckle your helmet strap when you can't bend your elbows to do it yourself.)
Not the full Monti, but the Marilyn Monroe.
“If I'd observed all the rules, I'd never have got anywhere.” This look is for the impulsive, I'm-in-Italy-and-I'm-going-to-do-this, blonde in all of us.
So, you've been out all day enjoying the sights in your flowy mid-length, short sleeve t-shirt dress and ballerina flats. Your girlfriends decide they want to take the metro back to the airbnb flat, but you want to walk and see the city at night. You find yourself at the Fontana di Piazza della Madonna in Monti, watching the buzzing crowd of people get larger and larger, until you see that cute guy who works at the gelato place walking toward you. His English is not very good but you get the idea that he's leaving to meet his friends in another part of town. He invites you along. He says something about an extra helmet and you find yourself climbing on the back of his motorino. Isn't this city just so beautiful you're thinking as the streetlamps blur and the wind picks up. That's when you feel it. The air on your backside. Your dress blowing up behind you. And then the horns start because you're on Lungotevere on the back of a motorino with your underwear showing. Everyone is honking at you. Ask the gelato guy if you're almost there. Trying to stuff your dress back down is futile, and don't let go of the speeding scooter. Just embrace it; put on your best Marilyn smile to show the cars driving by that you're in on the joke too.
We can all dream that we are a lost princess being wooed by Gregory Peck, but frankly, the long skirt and neck scarf looks dangerous. First, helmet and neck scarf together equals catastrophe. Second, there's no way that a long skirt isn't getting caught under a tyre, or ignite and go up in flames from a hot pipe. Let's just leave this look to the Parisians and their bicycles.
Just some quick notes on Hair and shoes
Helmets will mess up your hair.
Try to avoid a large chignon. Braids might work.
Italians can wear high heels, somehow they make it look natural.
Never wear flip flops.
How do Italian girls casually text while riding? Seriously, how can they be so calm?
Just some quick notes on etiquette
Don't trust a man who uses one of those cover things for when it rains.
The man whose scooter you are mounting will most likely watch you get on. If they don't try and get a glimpse of your underwear, they are a true gentleman.
The man will try and make eye contact with you in the mirror. Sometimes it's nice to make eye contact back.
Watch where you put your head. Banging helmets can be annoying, and leaning too far to avoid that might be an invitation for a helmet kiss.
To hug or not to hug? Watch and see if the man speeds. If you find your body being thrown forward, they definitely want the hug.
Now get on that scooter and take that ride up Gianicolo.