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Somewhere between Terracina and Formia, you'll find it. There's a stark pillar along the side of a winding mountain road. I assume it's either a milestone or the remains of one of the many monuments that line the Appian way.

Italy bike tour Appia milestone ItriThe bike ride to this pillar is phenomenal, and there are at least three good reasons to make the trip. First is the "Tomb of Cicero" at one end of the bike route. Most experts agree that this isn't the really the tomb of Cicero, but it's near the spot where he died and that's enough for most people.

Better than Cicero's tomb, the bike ride from Terracina to Formia passes through a park which includes the original remains of the via Appia, as well as several ancient Roman and Medieval buildings.

In fact, if you're riding your bike on the main road, you'll pass through the park several times. The road winds up the mountain in endless switchbacks, while the Appian Way shoots up in the classical straight line, defying gravity just as easily as she defied the Pontine marshes. You can ride your bike up this way if you choose to. I didnt.

But my favorite thing about this section of the Appian bike tour is the town of Itri. I hadn't meant to stay there, but I was intrigued by the scenery, the friendly locals, and the castle. After taking a long hot shower and stuffing my gullet with fresh pizza, I spent hours wandering around the dark, twisting alleys of the immense fortress on the hill overlooking Itri.

I can't tell you much about the history of the castle, but I'll introduce you to someone who can. On our next bike tour through southern Italy, one of my local contacts has offered to hook us up with an archeologist in Itri who can give a tour of the place. I asked him how much something like that would cost and he said, "some cafe in a bar, I assume, but not more..."

So if you're up for an expert tour of Itri for the price of a cup of coffee, not to mention a zillion other great experiences that you can read about all over my blog, get in touch with me and join us on this trip. The dates are May 15th-June 1st 2010, approximate cost is $1500 plus airfare and bike (rental, purchase, or transportation of your own rig), and I'll be happy to answer your other questions by phone or email.


"I'm doing everything I can to make this happen for you. I've even found a way you can pay for it. Here's how it works."


You weren't put on this earth to be a worker bee.

To be human is to continuously learn and grow, face new challenges, seek out new experiences and help other people. If you're not getting a taste of this true life every once in a while then you're doing yourself a disservice. You can't spend your entire life sitting behind a desk.Italy bike tour Appia Cicero tomb

When I wrote my first draft of this post I spend an hour deleting entire paragraphs because I was trying to find the one single event that would capture the essence of my trip. But the truth is, there isn't a single time or place that can cover it. If there was, you could just take a bus to that particular spot and be a tourist. You'd have no need to bike the entire via Appia.

It's not about huffing up to the Piazza dei Paladini at the Temple of Jove Anxur, sitting among the wildflowers while the waves of the Mediterranean sea crash among the rocks a thousand feet below you. It's not about crossing an old bridge guarded by stone lions made of lava that erupted from Mount Vesuvius.

This isn't just something you do for the random friends you meet in a tavern in the middle of the Apennines, drinking local wine while an old soldier tells you stories of parachuting into Montecasino at the end of the Second World War.

When you've found the nearly invisible "Strada Vecchia" though sheer persistence and hints from the locals, and you cross a dark swamp to come upon a legendary ancient bridge, you still haven't completed your quest.

And if you arrive intact at the port of Brindisi, where one of the ancient marble columns still stands in defiance of graffiti and the elements, looking east towards Greece and Turkey, you celebrate at bar where the locals mysteriously warn you that "even the walls have ears" and enjoy a lively dinner at a hostel with fellow travelers speaking Italian, French, Spanish and Greek-that's still not the end.

If you've really lived this journey as you were meant to, then you'll be at a total loss for words whenever somebody asks you, "How was it?"

There's no quick fix here, no shortcut. You have to ride the whole thing, from Rome to Brindisi, to get the real experience. We can't do this halfway.

That's why I'm doing everything I can to make this happen for you. I've even found a way you can pay for it. Here's how it works.

This ride is going to be an informal fundraiser for the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA). I'm asking that everyone on this trip make a contribution to ACA, but there's no fixed amount.

This trip is going to cost roughly $1400, depending on the exchange rates next year, so I recommend a goal of raising $2000 in donations and giving the extra $600 to Adventure Cycling.

This means you can solicit sponsors and tell your donors that 30% of their donation will support the Adventure Cycling Association while the rest will go to cover the costs of your trip. I'm putting together a fund raising packet with tips and ideas for raising money, letter templates you can send to local businesses to ask for funding, and other resources to help you out.

One thing to keep in mind: Your enthusiasm can be contagious. When I told the lead architect at the Via Appia Regional Park about my plans, he shook his head and declared, it was impossibile.  He asked me why I would ever want to do such a thing. My answer won him over, and I even surprised myself a little bit.

If you're determined to make this journey, your excitement and passion will open doors which didn't even seem to exist before. If you can cross a famous subcontinent on your own physical power, what else might you be able to do?

I had an extra long lunch break today, and took a quick ride in a part of LA that I pass through a lot. But I never saw this before!

I was out for maybe a hour, and didn't ride more than a couple of miles, but I took all the side streets and discovered a new park, a bunch of old mansions,  and some gingerbread houses. I was stalked by a giant Ewok in a Porsche (Halloween is near), and I even found a narrow twisty road that smelled like a redwood forest. In L.A.!

If you're not using your bike to explore the places you think you already know, you're in for a treat. I bet every city has quirky houses and yards, not to mention those random freak encounters with weird (ahem, interesting) people.

You'll come away from these discovery rides with a new sense of wonder at the world, quite possibly enhanced by the extra load of oxygen and endorphins.

This is at least as entertaining as any movie you'll see all year, and it's free. Not to mention the exercise.

Bike across Italy next year, if you dare to.

A lot of the people I've been talking to are into the idea. My High School reunion last week put me over the edge.

via Appia RomeI'll be putting up a lot of information on the Bike tour of southern Italy FAQs page, including the long answers to all of your questions.

In the meantime, here are the short answers to most of the things people are asking me:

How much will this bike tour cost?

Less than you think. 😉

How long will the journey last?

Between 7 and 10 days each way (but you don't have to ride your bike both ways), with some optional site seeing days at each end.

Where are we going?

[tag-tec]Southern Italy[/tag-tec], far off the beaten path for most tourists.

When is this epic bicycle voyage going to take place?

May, 2008

If you want to know more about the trip, check out the Bike tour of Southern Italy FAQs (click here).

I shopped the idea around at my High School reunion this past weekend, and was surprised at how many people were into the idea of [tag-tec]touring Italy by bicycle[/tag-tec]. (Thanks to all of you who trust me to guide you through a foreign land, when the last time you saw me I couldn't even get a license to drive my date to the prom.)

I've done this route before, as well as several other [tag-tec]bike trips[/tag-tec] all over [tag-tec]Italy[/tag-tec], and I speak Italian fluently, so there shouldn't be any serious logistical/navigational problems. My goal is to organize and write about these tours for a living within a few years, so I'm doing whatever it takes to make sure everyone is comfortable and happy.

That said, this is Italy, so you can expect a few mishaps and surprises, just enough to make a good story when you get back home.

There are more details posted on the FAQs page, or you can leave a comment if you have any questions.