Having ridden multiple times on the backs of no less than two different motor scooters in the (and again, this is important) Italian context, I consider myself to be quite the accomplished American visitor. Ever since watching that Mary-Kate and Ashley film in Italy the desire to try this for myself was planted within me. Upon arriving to Italy and realizing that this desire was shared with an American friend of mine who had gotten the privilege of this tourist rite of passage before me and assured me it was worth it, I set out to experience this for myself.
Opportunity struck when I had to meet a student for English and we decided he should pick me up at a meeting point. I was woefully unprepared for a scooter ride, but after picking up a pair of 5€ pants from a street vendor and classily putting them on in the middle of the sidewalk, I was ready to ride. He went easy on me and didn't go too fast, and my first ride on a motor scooter in Italy finally happened! This student of mine went to the same cell group as me the year before, and so ride number two was to the train station after one of our Bible studies.
Rides number three to roughly six occurred in Loano, and here I had the experience of riding with an actual Italian (my student is Brazilian). Awesome, and much more frightening. We were chugging along on high mountainous roads with no railings and once the scooter swiveled and I freaked before bursting into hysterical frightened laughter. My Italian friend promptly responded with, "What's so funny?! We almost died!"
Ride number seven was an exhilarating dash through city streets on the way to a birthday party. That ride is by far my favorite. I had gotten abandoned by one car ride and had to abandon another because we were going to different destinations, when my student pulled up on his motor scooter. Yaaaaay. All ill will against the first ride who had abandoned me flew out the window as I hopped on the back of my super-hot-holds-my-wrist-too-long-in-public student's motor scooter while artfully hiding the hole in the crotch of my jeggings. Helmet in place and jacket secured against the eventual cold, we took off.
I realized there were six of us in total whizzing along, dipping and swerving and breaking suddenly, and at one point one of the other guys drove up behind us, then beside us, and his passenger held onto the back of the scooter I was on. After praying for our safety for what must have been the tenth time, I let the speed fiend in me enjoy the ride. It was fabulous. Here are some pics of the action.