Family Travel, General

Biking Rome: The Appian Way

Biking Tour Along Rome’s Appian Way

My reasons for going to Rome had nothing to do with biking the Appian Way. Heck, before I read about it in Monogram‘s  list of excursions for our tour,  I don’t think I’d ever even heard about the route.  But biking? That I knew.

Biking The Appian Way

Preparing to begin our full day tour of The Appian Way in Rome

Given the choices of tours where we are hoofing it on our own two feet, hopping into the back of a bus or slipping on to a two-wheeled cruiser, my gang will choose bicycle every time.

Bikes  offer the best of both of the other options: A quick way to get around but not so quick that you can’t stop and take a photo or have a picnic when the whim strikes. It suits our motley crew of speedsters and cruisers perfectly.

And so, although we knew little about the Appian Way, we signed up for the excursion and hoped for the best.

It was a smart choice.

Biking| The Appian Way

As it turns out, The Appian Way – via Antica Appia to the Italians –  is pretty cool no matter how you explore it. The Appian Way was built in 312 B.C.  The road was once the main thoroughfare of its time, referred to as both the “Queen of Roads” and thought to be the road that the phrase “All roads lead to Rome” pays homage to.  It once stretched from Rome to Italy’s “heel” in the Southeast. Originally built for troops to use to get to and from the city, it quickly became the road in the country.  Prominent Romans would ensure they had their tombs set alongside the road because they figured the constant flow of traffic would mean that they’d never be forgotten. Impressive monuments were built here, the Roman circus is one one  of its flanks and when it came time to crucify Spartacus along with about 6000 other slaves – yup, right along the roadside.  If it was important to Rome it lived (or died) alongside this road.

Biking The Appian Way

A photo illustrates what the Appian Way looked like during its heyday.

Eventually the road fell into disrepair but the giant, weathered stones that were once marched on by ancient Romans remain. It’s a beautiful route surrounded by incredible ruins, catacombs and aqueducts well worth seeing.

Biking | The Appian Way with a Guide

Our tour started at the offices of Top Bike Rentals.  Our small group of 7 included both Monograms and non-Monograms patrons. The group size was perfect. It meant there was no standing around waiting for people to catch up or racing to make sure you weren’t at the back of the troop.Our guide, Bruno Crema, was the perfect host. Jovial, full of information and fun facts for the kids.

The tour is six-hours (30 kms) long which had me worried at first, but it was so interesting that we were surprised when it was over. With plenty of stops, side-of-the road explanations and even an opportunity to sit, sip wine (or juice) and nibble on local cheese at a gorgeous farmstead later in the day, it felt more like a leisurely ride than a grueling trek.

Biking The Appian Way

Our guide, Bruno, was full of great information and seemed to have a photo or map in every pocket. :)

Biking | The Perfect family excursion

One of the best things about this biking tour? The boys loved it. One of the toughest things when trying to pick activities for a family is trying to keep everyone happy. My boys are teens now and they move at their own speeds: One loves to zoom through life’s experiences and the other prefers to take it easy. Biking – especially on a route like the Appian Way where traffic is minimal – allowed them the independence to go at their own pace. While they may have enjoyed the scenery, the guided commentary and stops to wander through underground tunnels lined with ancient tombs kept them engaged.

Biking The Appian Way

Stops along the way served as a chance to step off the bikes, stretch our legs and get a closer look at the buildings along the route.

Biking | Body built for Gelato

Listen, I’m known for a lot of things but fitness fanatic is not one of them. I enjoy a casual ride around my neighbourhood, but on an unknown and potentially hilly route for six hours? That makes me nervous. When I learned that our outing included the use of an electric bike – pedal when you want to, flip it into e-mode when you don’t – I was thrilled. So were my athletic boys who got a kick out of zooming past their parents. (Note: Younger kids might not be able to ride e-bikes as they are motorized vehicles so definitely check ahead if you’re considering this.) The e-bike option meant tougher hills weren’t a problem and we could focus our concentration on what we were seeing rather than how hard we were peddling.

Biking The Appian Way

Those giant cobblestones are pretty to look at but can be tough on your posterior after a few hours. The stops – and a path that took us onto smoother roads at times – helped.

Biking| Beyond the Appian Way

What I also loved about having a guide was that he knew when to veer off the ancient route and show us what lay beyond it.  My  well-cushioned cruiser seat was appreciated as we made our way up and down the cobblestone street, but veering off onto the softer dirt road was welcomed. Plus, it offered us a closer look at those gorgeous rolling fields and ancient aqueducts that were as much a part of the early Roman life as the main road. I couldn’t stop thinking how unlike Rome – or at least the one I’d known – this felt. It was serene.

Biking The Appian Way

The ruins of ancient aqueducts made for picturesque landscapes as we rolled past.

Biking the Appian Way |The Verdict

Do it. Seriously, I can’t recommend the outing enough. Had we had more time to spare in Rome, we likely would have gone on to rent bikes on our own to venture even further afield or returned to the spots we loved from the tour, but I’m glad we took the tour first. It gave us some Italian road confidence (Tip: Always make eye contact with drivers when crossing the road, whether the light is green or not!), gave us some background into what we were seeing and allowed us to enjoy the ride without worrying about where we were going and whether we were lost. I also loved that unlike excursions you find on a lot of tour offerings, the price for our excursion was the same whether we bought it through Monograms or not. Doing it through Monograms just meant that it was seamless and we weren’t worried about figuring out whether the company was reputable, etc. It was like having a friend vouch for the experience before we did it.

The day was one of my favourites of our time in Italy. I’d head back in an instant.

Biking The Appian Way

Serenity found. Biking allowed for as much introspection or casual conversation as we liked. Perfect for both the introverts and extroverts in our group.

 

This post was the result of  the #MonogramsInsider project managed by iAmbassador in partnership with Monograms Travel and other sponsors. As always I retain full editorial control of the content published on this site.

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