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Bicycling in Italy and the Mediterranean

In this picture I'm with the beautiful Cristina Ottaviani in front of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. (Sorry guys, she's taken. And not by me).

This was at the end of a 2-week ride tracing via Appia, the Appian Way, ancient Rome's highway that crossed half the length of Italy from Rome to Brindisi.

I can't even tell you how much fun it was, the amazing food I ate, all the times I followed muddy trails through the forest to find old Roman ruins, the wonderful people I met, the food, the wildflowers sparkling on the meadows, lots of great food, all the things I learned about people and history and human nature, and all the amazing food, especially gelato.

Nothing beats Italy cycling tours. And did I mention the food?

Anyway, I'm not saying all this to make you jealous, but hopefully to inspire you to be part of a much bigger adventure.

One of my dreams was to bicycle around the entire Mediterranean on a bicycle before I turn 40. I've still got a couple years, but now I'm probably going to postpone the trip to take advantage of some new business opportunities, and wait for (hopefully) the current wave of violence in the Levant to blow over.

But in the meantime, I'm bicycling across Italy again in the spring of 2008. If you've ever thought about taking a bicycling tour of southern Italy, this is going to be a blast! I'll be posting more information as the date gets closer, or you can leave a comment and I'll email you if you just can't wait to hear more.

As far as the Mediterranean bike tour, we've got a few more years to plan, organize, get in shape, and above all dream.

I say "we" because if you're actually reading this blog you may have some interest in coming along. Either for the whole ride or any part of it that fits your dreams and your calendar. Leave a comment if you want to ride.

Any takers?

3 thoughts on “Bicycling in Italy and the Mediterranean

  1. Jeff

    Interesting piece. I would like to hike the Appian Way from Rome to Brindisi in March/April next year. Can you recommend good websites for reference or more importantly good sources for a specific map of the region? I assume from your blog that the road is still navigable for it's entire length.

  2. Jacob

    So you plan to hike, not bike, the via Appia? You're ambitious, Jeff!

    Your best bet is probably to think of this as a series of several hikes. You'll find occasional stretches of the original road, lots other bits of interesting/scenic hikes, separated by miles of paved road going through industrial/agricultural areas.

    On a bike, you can get through the boring stuff in a few hours, but if you literally walk from Rome to Brindisi you'll either want to take a lot of detours or else suffer entire days of monotony and frustration.

    I would recommend either renting a car or taking a train to some of the best areas, and then spend a day or two hiking and exploring each one. Most of the resources/websites I use are in Italian, but I'll send you more info by e-mail, and I also plan to post a lot more on this blog.

    A few interesting places to get you started:

    Rome--the first 10 miles of the Appian Way are a protected park for hikers/bikers, with lots of ruins, tombs, villas, catacombs and aqueducts to keep you busy. (You may have to pay a few dollars to enter some of these places)

    Terracina-Monte San Biagio-Fondi-Itri--This route covers a lot of beautiful countryside, and includes a large park where you can leave the paved road and hike a decently-preserved section of the original Via Appia. Terracina was an important stopping point along the via Appia (be sure to visit Piazza dei Paladini), and Itri is a medieval town up in the mountains where you can walk around the old fortress for free, 24/7.

    Mintorno--This city borders Lazio/Campagna and you cross over via a bridge featuring sculptures made of lava from Vesuvius. There's an important archeological site here. A few miles east is the Ponte dei Aurunci--you'll really have to explore and dig through the underbrush to find it.

    I'll post more later on. Meanwhile you can google some of the place names.

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