Cycling around Rome, especially after the tranquility of your cycling vacation in the UK, can be tricky, but if you know which routes to take, it can be a fantastic way to discover some of Rome’s lesser-known areas. Rome’s infamously aggressive drivers, traffic jams, unpredictably gestural pedestrians and cobblestone-infested hills make cycling seem unlikely, if not impossible.
Do not be surprised if you find a bike path that stops after a hundred yards: this happens all the time and is an example of vain attempts of cyclists to make the city more bike friendly. The rows of potholes, where until recently there were poles with rental bikes attached, are silent witness to this too.
Yet, in recent years there have been more cyclists in the city. Rome is built on several hills, so not every district is easily accessible on a bici. But many highlights in the historic center are on flat terrain, such as the neighborhoods around the Vatican, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Piazza del Popolo, Trevi Fountain, Campo de’ Fiori, and the ghetto.
There are relatively few bike paths in Rome, especially in the center. On www.piste-ciclabili.com you’ll find an overview of all the paths (green lines). Want to go for a proper bike ride in the heart of the city without constantly having to navigate the busy traffic? Go down to the riverside and ride the lungotevere—a long path running along the river bank. In the rest of the city, you have to be vigilant. The average Roman driver is not very attentive to people on bikes. And in case your bell doesn’t work, shout attenzione! (“watch out!”). There are basically two rules to follow: wear a helmet and don’t be in a hurry.
For bike rentals and tours, try Topbike Rental & Tours in Via Labicana 49. This is an organization of enthusiastic Dutch people who love to show you Rome and its rich history. Have a look at their website at www.topbikerental.com or call them for more information, (39) 06-4882893. On the Internet you’ll find many alternatives, such as Bici & Baci (www.bicibaci.com) and Roma rent bike (www.romarentbike.it).
Bici Roma (www.biciroma.it) is one of the organizations that wants to push the political agenda for more new bike paths. Once a year, a large bike tour is held in the city in collaboration with the Dutch embassy in Rome.
Italy is one of the top five countries in the world with the most cars, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to chain your bike to a drainpipe in front of the Pantheon?