If Rome were a person, she’d be that wise old relative who oozes wisdom and life experience. In essence, Rome is a well preserved senior citizen. At nearly 3,000 years old… she looks pretty darn good! A great way to explore Rome is via the Appian Way bike tour!
While the city’s sights draw crowds year-round, the Appian Way is tucked outside the city. Dotted with historic remnants, catacombs, waterways and springs, Appia Antica is not to be missed on your Roman holiday.
Gear up and get ready for an adventurous outing; we’re exploring Rome by bicycle!
There is so much to do and see in Rome that it would be nearly impossible to summarize the Eternal City in one post. In this article, I’m focusing solely on a unique experience in Rome: sightseeing by bicycle!
This first segment is for the adventurers who seek a unique view of Rome seen from the lush countryside, full of rich history and sprawling landscapes; an intimate exploration of Christian heritage and Roman engineering. Tickle that adrenalin itch and abandon concern for anything other than just enjoying yourself in the true tradition of fun.
Can’t get enough of Rome? Here’s my guide for walking Rome and seeing the city’s highlights!
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “All roads lead to Rome.” In 312 B.C. the Appian Way was one of these roads constructed to connect people to Rome.
It was one of the several enormously long roads that extended from Rome to the corners of its domain and were traveled by military troops, merchants, and peasants alike.
The Appian Way has survived bloody wars, the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, and the evolution of time. The remains of this stoned path are still intact for people to traverse and enjoy the glorious country landscape in the outskirts of the city. The Appian Way bike tour also stops at ancient Christian tombs scattered along the road.
Before leaving the U.S. I did my research to find the company and tour that best suited my travel aspirations. The tour I chose was The Red Bicycle’s Appian Way bike tour: a four hour, 15-mile tour of the Roman countryside including Appia Antica Park, Christian Catacombs, Aqueduct Park and the local water springs of Santa Egeria.
Although The Red Bicycle offers six enticing tours, the fusion of history and nature sold me on the Appian Way Bike Tour.
Bear in mind, you don’t have to be an athlete for this adventure, while it does exact physical effort, you take breaks and make stops at lovely sights along the way to regenerate while your tour guide fills you in on rich Roman history.
Riding on uneven terrain, cobblestone streets, and the rugged Appian Way takes a minute to adjust to, but you’re supplied with a mountain bike with hearty tires so utilize those gears and adjust accordingly, put a little thrust into the peddle and you’re on your way!
Traveling can easily intercept physical activity and when you’re exploring Italy and your diet consists of bread and pasta three times a day (ok, maybe 4 or 5, I won’t even mention the gelato…), this is a fun and rejuvenating exercise to balance all the tantalizing consumption. It just so happens to be accompanied by ancient remains, catacombs, aqueducts and so much more… revert back to your child-like ambitions and let your legs lead the way on this fun adventure!
Another great aspect of taking the Appian Way bike tour is that you get to visit several sights that you otherwise might have had to plan separately. If you’re visiting Rome, Christian catacombs are a really cool experience that I recommend you have.
This bike tour and post are all about a unique perspective of Rome. While you’ll naturally be drawn to the tourist hotspots like the Colosseum and Vatican City, which will be included in the 2nd and 3rd installations I’m writing on Rome, the Catacombs are a breath of fresh air as they’re not extremely crowded, relatively quick to explore (about 45-60 minutes) and provide an intimate experience.
When visiting a big city like Rome, I’ve found that the places you have the lowest expectations for end up being incredibly memorable. That’s because you get to take your time exploring, and don’t have to battle crowds of tourists for “the shot.”
The Appian Way bike tour takes you to the Catacombs of San Callisto, an underground sanctuary featuring four floors with tunnels of burial tombs. Dating back to the 2nd century, you’ll find crypts of Popes, martyrs, and Christians with family tombs and frescos of antiquity.
Many Christians died while hiding from the Romans underground and as a result, there are a massive amount of tombs.
If you’re going in the summertime as we did, the Catacombs are underground offering cool refreshments from the hot Italian climate. Now I didn’t do any research on finding Catacombs prior to our trip, but my boyfriend did and he found the one that he wanted to go to most was actually the Catacombs of St. Domitilla.
After being pleasantly surprised at how awesome the Catacombs of San Callisto were, he was underwhelmed by St. Domitilla because much of it was blocked off to the public making the tour extremely short and lacking the depth we experienced at San Callisto.
Not that I’m trying to catacomb-bash here as it’s a personal preference that dictates your enjoyment of any sight, but the Catacombs of San Callisto provided a more thorough and bountiful experience to him than the Catacombs of St. Domitilla.
Also included on the itinerary is a ride through Aqueduct Park and local springs. It’s fun to take a pit stop and learn about Rome’s historic and brilliant water system.
The Romans built the Aqueduct to retrieve clean water from distant sources. This enabled people to hydrate and bathe, but also sourced the cities myriad of fountains.
However, enemy forces cut off some of the water channels. Ultimately, this led to the decline of the Roman Empire in the Medieval era.
Today you can see the remains of monumental constructs of great ancient Roman engineering. Although these structures are as ancient as Rome, they are still used in the modern city.
This tour legitimately provided me with a heartwarming and authentic experience. In fact, I blab about it anytime the word Rome peaks in conversation.
Part of what makes an amazing tour is an amazing tour guide. Musa, at the Red Bicycle, migrated from Senegal in 2007. Since then, he’s become an expert on the Roman countryside and made our tour truly memorable.
Don’t forget that when in Rome, do as the Romans do and savor every single experience. Speaking from personal mistakes, don’t get caught up in the tourist mindset of seeing it all.
Focus on seeing what speaks to you most, be open-minded about new or unfamiliar things. Allow yourself to be carried by the culture of your location. Enjoy the presence of the moment and ability to let go and wander.
Christina Lyon is a coffee-sipping, word-obsessed business blogger, content writer, and blog consultant. She’s on fire for helping creative entrepreneurs and small biz owners build thriving blogs that enhance online visibility and convert to sales. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves to play music and explore the beaches and wild trails along the California coast with her husband Steve and rescue pup, Clio.
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