When in Rome…Don’t Rent Bikes

While touring around Europe, my sister and I found that renting bikes was the easiest way to sightsee, as they gave us freedom and speed to meander around each city. Unfortunately, no one warned us about Italian drivers. You truly take your life in your own hands when just crossing the street; it’s rather similar to Los Angeles or New York. In Rome, a red light means “Keep going if you want. Or stop. What do I know? I’m just a traffic signal”. However, as we arrived in Rome at night and blearily fumbled the two steps it took to reach our lodgings, we didn’t realize until the morning. Despite it all, during our last day in Rome, we rented bikes in order to see places like the Colosseum and the Pantheon. In between dodging motorists and large clumps of tourists taking pictures with street-entertainers dressed as Roman soldiers, we eventually found our way around. It is decidedly much easier to point to a location on a map and say, “Here it is,” versus battling with narrow one-way streets and dead-ends.

Regardless, my sister and I agree that we made the right decision. It was a beautiful day and the architecture was stunning. One moment we’d be cycling past a modern block of apartments and the next we were practically ramping off of ruins from the Roman Empire. Where once there were fierce gladiatorial fights for entertainment, there is now a neighboring pizzeria, so you can stand outside the Colosseum and picture said battles while grease runs down the side of your hand and bits of authentic Italian sausage drop around your feet.

With bikes it was easy to chain them up in designated areas and explore inside of places on foot, so we could take pictures and document our trip without trying to multitask – which is later did in Berlin that ended in a few near misses. The one thing we did wrong, however, was time-keeping. We had to catch a train around midday in order to travel to Venice and we also had to check out of our accommodations, not to mention return the rented bikes. Unfortunately, biking is much harder when the entire route back is uphill.

We returned to our hotel with minutes to spare, but upon racing upstairs, they’d already changed the keycode to our room, so we had to sprint all the way back down in order to sweet-talk the gentleman at the front desk in order to get our backpacks. Luckily, the man in question had helped us during our entire stay in Rome and had no issues with giving us a hand and making sure we made it on our way safely. We are definitely in his debt!

After that, we had to bike through Rome traffic with our packs on in order to drop the bikes back, which was another mission and a half. To be honest, we were thankful for the long train journey, so we could finally sit down and have a well deserved break!