A Panoramic Bicycle Tour of the Vatican and Old Rome

But Roberto had given Ciro a call and within a few minutes Ciro arrived with a replacement bicycle for Alan. Meanwhile, this little break gave me a chance to check out the street market that was stretching along the left bank of the Tiber River to the Palace of Justice. Now we were ready to continue along the Ponte Sant’Angelo to the right bank of the Tiber River into Old Rome.

One of the Venetian masks for sale at the market next to the Castel Sant’Angelo

We cycled past the beautiful Piazza Navona into the Jewish Ghetto of Rome, the area where Jews were forced to live between the 16th and 19th centuries. Jews had lived in Rome from the 2nd century AD onwards, but they were systematically persecuted starting in 1556 when all Jews were forced to live inside an enclosed ghetto. There is not much left of the original buildings, but Rome’s main synagogue which dates to 1904 houses a Jewish museum that records the history of this area.

Cycling across the Ponte Sant’Angelo

Minutes away we stopped at the Teatro Marcello (the Theater of Marcellus), the outer wall of a former amphitheater that opened in 14 AD. The ruined amphitheater became the home of a place for the Orsini family in the 16th century and even holds some apartments on the upper levels today. In Rome antiquity and modernity are seamlessly intertwined.

The 2000-year old Teatro Marcello still holds some apartments today

From here we cycled across to the Piazza del Campidoglio, whose palaces and square were designed by Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarotti. This entire area is a popular spot for wedding photography, and sure enough, we came across three bridal couples that were having their pictures taken in the warm evening sun. One couple even used my bicycle as a prop!

My bicycle makes a great backdrop for this Roman wedding photo!

Just west of the square is the Piazza Venezia that holds the enormous white marble monument to Vittorio Emmanuele, the first king of a unified Italy. “Il Vittoriano” is often referred to as the “wedding cake” or “the typewriter”, and was derided when it was inaugurated in 1911. Even though the opinions about this monument are still divided.

The Vittorio Emmanuele Monument – typewriter or wedding cake?

The Capitoline Hill not only holds the Campidoglio with the Capitoline Museums, but behind one of the Renaissance palaces is one of Rome’s most spectacular views: a sprawling vista of the Ancient Roman Forum, all bathed in the warm golden sunlight of the setting sun. What an absolutely glorious glimpse of Antiquity – looking at the orange-tinted Roman Forum was like looking at a romantic 19th century painting. Rome literally takes your breath away…

The Roman Forum – Ancient Rome’s centre of power

Well, the evening sun was setting and we made our way back up the Esquiline Hill one more time and finished our bike tour after 8 pm. Quite tired and worn out from a long day of cycling and a million impressions, I grabbed an apple for dinner and collapsed on the bed of my Rome bed and breakfast and crashed for one final full day in Rome.

Our bicycling group on the Campidoglio – we enjoyed a great day of cycling in Rome.

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