This is by far the best tour I have taken in all the tours I have taken so far – probably because cycling has been a childhood passion for me. Regardless, cycling through a new city is a unique way to tour and I would recommend you take the bike tour if you ever see it as an option! It’s absolutely worth it!
So , what did we do?
Crash Course in Roman History
The guide gave us headsets and we were free to ride at our pace while he gave us the 101. Although there were quite a few people using cycles as a mode of transport, the city center doesn’t really have bike lanes. And with the car drivers not being the most considerate, you have be a careful rider. But if you follow the instructions of the guide, then it’s safe to say you will not be run over.
Our first stop was the Roman Forum – although we toured the Roman Forum in detail in a different tour, cycling around it hearing about life in the city center of ancient Rome was much cooler. From there we moved on to see the Circus Maximus (I love the name!). This was a horse-racing track/stadium built a bazillion years ago (Old Kingdom era actually) for entertainment purposes, mostly horse races. This was fascinating because the entire city runs around it and they’ve still not touched it. It’s just there sitting like it was built last year. I saw a few people chilling in the grassy areas and a lot of graffiti on the walls but otherwise the Circus Maximus looked like a really old man sitting cross-legged on the dance floor of a nightclub.
We then rode our way to the temple of Hercules – also the cutest temple I saw in the whole of Italy. It’s not that big and quite intact for a structure that was built in the 2nd century BC! The Temple of Hercules is right in the middle of the city and can be covered in 15 minutes.
Through The Streets
Now that all the historic structures were done, we went on to the more exciting part of the tour – the streets! I cannot do justice to that experience by writing about it. It was awe-inspiring to see real people live in buildings hundreds of years old, exhilarating to ride through streets that are barely 15 feet wide and just…unbelievably fun.
Italian Cuisine on the Rocks (not really)
During our ride through the streets, we stopped at three places that were not historical; a cafe for breakfast, a bakery for lunch and a gelato bar for dessert.
The Gusto Massimo Cafe next to the Circus Maximus served everything you need to try in Italy – we tried their hot chocolate and plain croissants and I only have two more words to say about that – Morning made.
Lunch was an insightful affair. Somewhere behind the Piazza Navona, in one of the tiny streets, we stopped for a quick “lunch,” at a bakery where we tasted something I had never heard of before – a potato pizza! I wish I had taken a photo of the bakery or at least kept track of how far it is from Piazza Navona but I have no clue where it is. That bakery apparently sells the best potato pizzas in all of Italy. I will make it a mission to find that bakery if I ever go back.
I can’t remember the gelato bar’s name but the gelato they served was definitely more authentic than all the “authentic gelato” we get outside of Italy.
Rest of our tour is honestly a blur – I remember us getting off and returning our cycles at the starting point but I can’t be sure of what happened between that and the potato pizza. That is probably when I fantasized about my life as an aspiring gladiator and pizza maker in Rome a few hundred years ago.
So, why Rome on a bike?
In case I haven’t mentioned before, you absolutely have to take a bike tour of possibly every city you visit. But here’s a few reasons in case you are still not convinced:
- Cycling: It’s as interactive as a tour can get. You see Rome in totally different light when you’re zooming past it.
- Macro not micro: If you’re not a fan of history but still need to enjoy Rome, then flip through the pages on a bike. No long details, no information overload. Just some exercise and lots of cool breeze.
- Free food: The tour includes free breakfast and coffee, pizza tasting, and gelato. No other tour offered me that!
So yeah, bike tours all the way.