Highlights of Rome on 2 wheels
Rome is a city that is unique for its rich tradition. The city offers you an almost inexhaustible source of traditions, old Roman ruins, churches and monuments that are of great historic value. The city is visited every year again by millions of tourists and travelers, and is therefore one of the most visited cities worldwide.
But besides all that, Rome is a city that one must experience: the breathtaking sunsets, the delicious food, and the fantastic wine. Because Rome is such a busy, and a big city, one of the best ways to get around is by bicycle. It gives you the chance to move around the busy traffic fast, it gives you the freedom to stop wherever you want, and you can enjoy the fine Mediterranean weather at the same time you immerse yourself in the highlights the city has to offer! We took a guided bicycle tour at BICI & BACI, and this is our review.
The tour in a nutshell
It’s a sunny October afternoon when we arrive in the Bici & Baci building on Via Cavour 302, just minutes walking from the Colosseum. The bikes, some scooters and two classic Fiat 500’s standing outside welcome us. After a brief introduction at the reception desk, we are ready to go on the “Rome Highlights”-tour. The tour promises the best attractions from beautiful Renaissance squares and wonderful Baroque palaces, to Roman ruins, picturesque fountains and elegant shopping streets. Since we are not really professional bikers, we took this easy tour that is accessible to all, even to those who are not in a pro sports condition. The tour will last 3 hours, and runs over almost an entirely flat ground route.
The Colosseum and Forum Romanum
After a short (and only) climb, the guide brings us to a good viewpoint, where we have a great view on both the Colosseum and the Forum Romanum.
The “Amphitheatrum Flavium”, better known as the Colosseum, was built in the first century after Christ, and was the biggest amphitheatre in the Roma history. Consequently it is named in our list “The new 7 wonders of the world”. It was built on the site of the Stagnum, an artificial lake of Emperor Nero’s Domus Aurea. The Flavian emperors tried to erase the memory of the hated Emperor Nero, and regain the favor of the people by building this Amphitheatre. Vespasian’s amphitheater was the most famous in the existence of the Roman Empire. It was known as “Amphitheatrum Flavium”, derived from Flavius, the surname of Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. Nowadays, the theater is better known as the Colosseum. Probably it derived its current name from the 35 meter high statue, the Colossus of Nero, which stood next to the amphitheater and not the size of the building, as it is often claimed.
THE FORUM ROMANUM
Right next to the Colosseum, we also have a good view on the Forum Romanum and the Palatine Hill. The Palatine hill is one of the seven hills of Rome, and is the first one that was inhabited. It has been the hill where the emperors had their palaces. Next to the hill lies the Forum Romanum, Latin for Roman Market Square. It was the center of Rome in ancient times. The forum was the political, legal, religious and commercial center of the city in the glorious days of the Roman Empire. We can see the leftovers of the Temple of Venus and Roma (Templum Veneris et Romae), just next to the Colosseum, a temple that is thought to have been the largest temple in Ancient Rome. The architect was the emperor Hadrian and construction began in 121 AD.
Altare della Patria and Piazza Venezia
We continue our way by bike, taking the Via dei Fori Imperiali, leading to the Piazza Venezia. The street thanks its name to the Fori Imperiali, that it crosses. We arrive at the Piazza Venezia, with the astonishing white building Altare della Patria.
ALTARE DELLA PATRIA
Also known as the “Victor Emanuel II Monument”, or in English the “Altar of the Fatherland” or “Il Vittoriano”, is a stately white monument in Rome. The monument is a museum devoted to the unification of Italy (Museo del Risorgimento). The building was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi and was built between 1895 and 1911 in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a united Italy. Most of the Italians don’t really like the monument, due to the great amount of money it cost.
The Piazza Venezia or Venice Square, is a big and busy square in the center. The square derives its name from the Palazzo Venezia, that is located on the edge of the square. On this rectangular square are some of Rome’s main traffic routes: Via del Corso, Via Quattro Novembre, Via del Plebiscito and Via dei Fori Imperiali. The Piazza Venezia therefore has an important role as a traffic place. There are no traffic lights, and the traffic flow is often controlled by agents.
The Trevi Fountain
Continuing by bike, of course, we start crossing some smaller streets, that brings us to one of the most visited fountains in Italy, and probably in the world: the Trevi fountain! The fountain is approximately 26 meters high and about 22 meters wide. It is located on a square named the Piazza di Trevi. The fountain was built on behalf of Pope Clemens XII. It was designed by the famous Bernini, in the style of late Baroque. The fountain is built against the rear of the Palazzo Poli. The name “Trevi” comes from the”three roads”, since there were three roads coming together in the square.
Most noteworthy, there is a myth connected to the fountain. When you stand with your back towards it, close your eyes, think of Rome and throw a coin into the water with your right hand over the left shoulder. One coin means you will return to Rome. Throwing two coins means you will meet your true love in the ‘Eternal City’. Throwing three coins would lead you to a marriage or divorce.
Piazza di Spagna
It’s not so much Piazza di Spagna, but especially the Spanish stairs that are famous in this square. Just like the stairs, the square shaped square tanks its name due to the Spanish embassy that was located in this square during the 17th century. Piazza di Spagna is not only a nice attraction for culture enthusiasts, but also for those who like shopping: several shopping streets with exclusive shops are located near the square. There are also various restaurants and cafes for a snack and a drink.
FONTANA DELLA BARCACCIA
In front of the stairs lies a small fountain, made in Travetine-stone: the Fontana della Barcaccia This fountain was designed by Pietro Bernini, and is a monument to the great flood of Christmas in 1598. Therefore the fountain proposes a rowboat where water flows out. The boat is half below street level.
TRINITA DEI MONTI
This French church was built on behalf of Louis XII. The church was built between 1502 and 1587. The Spanish Steps lead to this church. At the front of the church you can see an obelisk, Obelisco Sallustiano. It was in fact the French that had the “Spanish” stairs made, but despite this, people started to name it “Spanish Stairs”, due to the square below.
Biking through the streets of Rome is not only very relaxing, but highly interesting. It’s perfect to soak up the atmosphere of the city, and to feel the vibe of Rome. We pass many smaller streets, all of them very pretty and picturesque. It’s not only the highlights and the big squares and buildings that make this trip interesting, it is also the journey in between. However, arriving in those city squares, and having the ancient statues and monuments revealed in this actual moment, is quite impressive. In one of the oldest neighborhoods of Rome, the Campus Martius, we arrive at the Piazza Navona.
Emperor Domitian had made him a big stadium for athletics in this square on day. After the fall of the Roman empire, Roman citizens built houses in the former stands, and the place evolved into a large square over the centuries.
SANT AGNESE CHURCH
In the 17th century, Pope Innocentius X gave the present form to Piazza Navona: he built the Sant’Agnese church in Agone, a palace and a big fountain. The impressive church is built by Francesco Borromini, the great rival of Bernini in 17th century Rome.
FONTANA DEI QUATTRO FIUMI
The fountain was built by Bernini, rival of Borromini. The four images refer to four major rivers, the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile and the Rio de la Plata, and are at the foot of the obelisk that rises in the middle.
The square is busting with tourists, and surrounded by restaurants and souvenir stalls. Due to it, people say it is one of the most touristic, and therefore expensive squares to eat in Rome.
Very close to the Piazza Navona is the Pantheon. For me thé most breathtaking building in Rome. It rises up from the ground, and is amazingly well preserved. The Pantheon was rebuilt between 118 and 125 AD. It is used as Roman Catholic basilica and dedicated to Saint Mary and the Martyrs. Pantheon means “dedicated to all gods”. You can visit it for free, and inside you van feel the greatness of the building. From the Renaissance on the Pantheon was used as a cemetery for leading Italians, of whom Rafael Santi and Victor Emmanuel II (Altare della Patria) are the most known.
In the small streets surrounding the square, there are two more “must-visit” places: the Tazza d’oro Caffé, where you can find the best coffee in Rome, and Venchi, the best place in Rome for chocolate and ice cream!
Flower market in Campo de’ Fiori
Before returning to the very place where we started the tour, we continue to cross saller streets and squares, all equally romantic. We pass the Campo de ‘Fiori, where the weekly flower market takes place since the nineteenth century. Amongst some other smaller places, again a true must-visit place in the city of Rome. Probably, I could write a lot more about this tour by bike, but you could also just book the tour yourself, and see and feel the magic of Rome by bike.
Bici & Baci Vespa Museum
Last but not least: before you decide to continue discovering the city on your own, don’t forget to visit the Vespa Museum in the basement of the Bici & Baci store! You’ll find some very interesting models, and some additional info on Vespa right there!
The “Rome Highlight” tour in numbers
- Duration of the tour : 3 hours
- Distance : 10 kilometers
- Level : Easy, everyone
- Maximum climb or descent : 30 meters
- Includes : Guide and bicycle (and a helmet if you want)
- Price : 30 euro per person
- Departure : Every day
- Starting point : Via Cavour 302 (near Underground B, Colosseo station)
- Available Languages : English, Dutch (German/French/Spanish/Italian on request)
If you want to follow this tour, or if you are interested to follow one of the other tours, either by bike, scooter or in an authentic fiat 500, surf to www.bicibaci.com/en
Furthermore, if you want to organize a tour with a customized itinerary, you can also write to firstname.lastname@example.org.