7 Unique Tours of Rome

Posted by Elissa Garay on June 11, 2014 at 11:00:00 AM EDT | Post a Comment

Just because all roads lead to Rome doesn't mean they converge into a single route once they get there. When in Rome, forgo the well-trodden tourist path altogether in favor of some offbeat adventuring, courtesy of these seven unique tours, each guaranteed to show you a different side of this ancient city. Plus, all of these distinctive options offers a welcome reprieve from walking by putting your sightseeing on wheels. So go ahead and see Rome in one-of-a-kind style—your (modern-day) chariot awaits.

Slide Behind the Wheel of a Vintage Fiat 500

Italian auto designers gave the world top-notch supercars with Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Alfa Romeo, but the feel-good Fiat 500 does its part to capture the hearts and imaginations of the masses. Get behind the wheel of this happy little car—or be chauffeured, if you prefer—courtesy of ROME 500 EXP, which operates a fleet of six of the vintage vehicles within Rome proper. Choose your favorite classic '60s or '70s model, pop open the sunroof, and head out on a guided convoy-style tour featuring piped-in commentary from the tour leader as you circuit Rome, incorporating short stops at key sights. Several tour variations are possible, but we like the four-hour option that wraps up with a wine-and-food pairing at a sophisticated wine bar, set just steps from the Colosseum. $200/person, two-passenger minimum; for self-drive tours, note vehicles are manual and an international license is required

Pedal Past History on the Ancient Appian Way

Travel paths once paved for chariots as you weave past ancient Roman statues, tombs, and aqueducts, and alongside the ruins of a circus and imperial palace. Some 2,300 years since this commercial route was first built, the transporting Appian Way still beckons travelers. The pros at TopBike lead guided, six-hour, 18.5-mile-long bike tours here that are suitable for intermediate riders, following mostly flat terrain (though some is off-road), and offering plenty of breaks for commentary and rest. Tours also include a guided visit of the fascinating Christian burial site, the Catacombs of San Callisto, as well as a stop for cheese and wine at a local sheep farm. $108/person

Cruise the City by Night on a Vintage Vespa

See Rome in a new light, by night, with ageless monuments set softly aglow as you navigate the chaotic whirl of Roman traffic, traversing narrow alleyways and sweeping squares on the back of a vintage Vespa. Nerone Tours Italy offers the ultimate cinematic tour of the Eternal City— à la Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday—via Vespa (or Lambretta) scooters. Drivers stand in as informal guides, though you'll only half-catch their commentary as the wind sweeps through your hair and as each twist and turn reveals a dramatically lit facade vying for your attention. Three-hour nighttime tours kick off from your hotel around dusk (at 8 p.m.), and can be customized based on guests' interests, or left up to the drivers for some broad-stroke highlights; if the thrill of the ride isn't enough to keep your adrenaline up, a coffee stop is also included. $218/person

Set Out on Segway to the Hidden Hill of Trastevere

Segways are just plain fun, and this modern mode of transport makes for an interesting juxtaposition while exploring Roman antiquity. Make the run with Rex Tours, who rank top for their pleasant, insightful guides; thorough coaching on operating the Segways; and diverse tour options. We especially like their 3.5-hour, small group Trastevere tour, which rolls through this charming historic hilltop neighborhood, where lost-in-time alleyways, flanked by medieval architecture, lead to impressive, less-trodden points of interest and panoramic vistas over Rome. $108/person

Whiz About Town in an Electric Car

The nifty electric, two-seater cars of Buzz4Tours, packaged as "personal commuters," are compact enough to skirt traffic and to park just about anywhere (bonus: parking for electric cars in Rome is free). Sign up for caravan-style, four-hour tours for a discovery of Rome's must-sees—you'll follow a lead car, helmed by a professional guide, who offers up commentary via walkie-talkie transmission. Or, you can opt in for an independent half- or full-day circuit, swapping out the tour guide for an iPad that comes preloaded with GPS-led itineraries, Internet access, and Skype. $89/person for guided tours; an international license is required

Get Your Groove on in a Historic Tram

Pair ancient sites with classic tunes on this one-of-a-kind tour of Roma. Dreamt up by an American expat musician and his Roman girlfriend, these lively evening tours transform one of Rome's few remaining historic street trams into a mobile, music-themed party fueled by free-flowing Italian wine and aperitivo-style small plates. A live band turns out a mix of classic rock (à la the Beatles and Elvis), Italian favorites (like Antonello Venditti and Lucio Battisti), and Italian-American legends (Sinatra, Dean Martin), while the backdrop of Roman monuments flashes by (commentary is provided), including a pit stop at the Colosseum for an atmospheric alfresco dance party. Tram Tracks run most Monday nights, and last 90 minutes. $55/person

Zoom on a Golf Cart for Family Fun

Hop aboard an electric golf cart for some guaranteed family fun. Especially well-suited for kids, seniors, and the mobility impaired, these easy-breezy tours were designed by the Irish expat owner of Angel Tours, who was seeking a comfortable way of showing his elderly out-of-town mom the sights. It was a hit with mom, and customers soon agreed. Plus, the carts are eco-friendly and can be driven and parked almost anywhere, for four hours of chauffeured hop-on, hop-off access to the major sites, including the Pantheon, St. Peter's Square, and more, along with a break for ice cream or coffee. $109/adults; reduced rates for kids (under 6 are free); an international driving permit is required for driving

Elissa Richard is a contributor to numerous American travel publications, including Fodor's, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, and more. Based in Brooklyn, NY, she has traveled to and reported on some 55 countries and 20 cruise lines around the globe, and has resided in Argentina, France, England, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Follow her @TravelSpiritNYC.  

Photo Credit: (c) Niccolo De Masi (Fiat 500 Rome Tour); (c) John Garay (Appian Way Bike Tour, Vespa Tour); (c) Rex Tours (Segway Tour); (c) John Garay (Electric Car Tour); (c) Giuliano Del Gatto (Tram Tracks); (c) John Garay (Golf Cart Tour)

Posted in Trip Ideas Tagged: Rome, Tours, Italy, Europe

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