This isn't exactly about getting around on a bike, and it's only connected to riding a bike in Italy by a stretch of the imagination.
But there is a lot of urban sprawl, even in Italy (especially in Rome!) and there were days of biking the Appian way where all I saw was a bunch of run-down homes and industrial stuff along a lonely road through the Italian countryside
That's why this documentary on urban sprawl is relevant. I'm hoping for a future time when enough people are willing to ride their bikes as their primary transportation, there's good public transportation in place, and cities become communities where people want to live, instead of the wasteland that so many of them are now (especially LA!).
So if you're interested in biking as a way of transforming the world, you may want to check this out.
I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here, but many of the people who've answered my survey have asked about advice on buying bikes and equipment.
Anything I could tell you has already been said, so here are a few non-commercial, unbiased sites that will help you get started. I've added these to the blogroll, below, but I made a post out of this so you would see it.
Good luck! The only advice I'm going to give you about selecting a bike is just do it. Don't waste your life analyzing everything down to perfection when you could be out there riding. A bike that's 75% perfect will be fine for most riders, msot of the time. Go for it!
If you've done this already, I congratulate you--and I have a little bit of envy too.
It feels like every aspect of life--your work, your family, your health, your dreams, your passions are strong wires pulling you in different directions, competing for your time and energy. There's a tug of war going on, and usually when you try to enhance one part of your life there's a sacrifice or a trade-off somewhere else.
But what if your life could be a wheel? You're the hub, the different things that pull on you are the spokes, and if you get them integrated you have a perfect, smooth-spinning wheel?
This isn't just vague theory, I'm finding ways of making it happen. I'll share some of these if there's an interest. But what about you? Leave a comment if you've found ways that biking can enhance other parts of your life, and that life can enhance your biking.