On occasion, Rome is trashed as hell for the two wheelers. Those who actually live in the Eternal City know that, although built on seven hills, Rome’s city center has always been the urban biker’s paradise. Flat ground, car limitations and a never-ending beautiful cityscape make the cobblestones and motorini traffic more than bearable.
Bicycles have been coursing through the city since the late 1800s where biking is less a sport and more of a social life. Romans have no qualms about dressing up for a bike ride—from high heels and skirts to three-piece suits. As Roman residents’ preferred method of transportation, ATAC (Rome’s public transport group) recently upgraded its Bike Sharing initiative—conceived to get residents off smog producing scooters and around the city in a far more environmental manner. Now anyone, resident or not, can sign up for a 5 euro subscription fee and 5 euro rechargeable card.
A more cost-efficient alternative, since Bike Sharing is designed for brief rides and charges per half-hour, is bike rental. Bici & Baci, Via del Viminale, 5, 06 489861620 near Termini have a large volume of bikes and offer bike tours. Newcomer to the Bike Roma scene is the very cute Brompton bike tour from Roma Bike Tour Think: gangs of colorful, foldable bikes group pedaling from the Vatican to Ponte Milvio and back. A historic favorite is Campo de’ Fiori shop Collati (via del Pellegrino 82; tel: 06 68801084), as recently and rightfully praised by Robert Collins, Toronto Star.
Riding in Rome isn’t just about the streets. Take a look down on the south bank of the Tiber river, where a 4.5km ride from Ponte Cavour to Ponte Milvio (Milvain Bridge) is the ride of choice. Every staircase (usually located next to a bridge) has a bike rail to place wheels, instead of a cumbersome carry down stairs. Ponte Matteoti, connecting Prati and Popolo, has a wide ramp (west side) for easy ascents and descents. Rule of thumb for biking the banks: keep your eyes on the road and look out for mud, trash and lip-locked lovers.
Note: Biking along the Tiber isn’t limited to the Cavour-Milvio trail. Bicycle paths come from the north of the city and wind down south to EUR and Ostia—on the Tiber banks and city roads, which means riders must pay attention.
Photo from Glenys Rome and Beyond: great safety tips, too!