Biciclette

Italians love their bicycles and inside the walls of Lucca there are probably more per capita than anywhere. It is near impossible to drive on the narrow streets full of people, so a bike is the fastest way to get around. Man, if I could ride a bike here, I would have it made!

ImageEvery morning, streams of biking moms and dads go by my apartment taking their kids to school. Some folks have more than one youngin’ on the bike and some have little ones riding little bikes beside them. Some of the kids are pretty big to be still on the back of mom or dad’s bike but I am struck by the “closeness” of the arrangement. And I mean physically close. The child has to practically be hugging the back of his parent to fit on the bike.

I don’t think that is unusual – it is just typically Italian. Families are very close – emotionally and physically. And to me it starts young – with the parent hauling the kid around on a bike. They’re like kangaroos with their offspring kept touching in a pouch. I think it must prolong the bonding process for a while. So no wonder Italian kids live at home while going to college, and usually until – or even after – they’re married.

ImageI’ve seen so many things on bikes… doggies in the basket, couples riding together, young people standing up on a friend’s bike, boy and girl – holding hands while one rides the bike and one walks beside, friends riding slowly side by side chatting. And one day, while I was sitting in da Felice having a slice of pizza for lunch, a young woman in very high-heeled boots parked her bike, ran in for a slice, ran back out and balanced the pizza on the handlebars and took off while eating the pizza – high heels and all!

ImageNow this cracks me up… I think of this little bike with a high rise seat and handlebars as a sporty little pre-teen boy bike. But almost always, when you see one like this, an older person is riding it. I’m wondering if that is the answer to my problem? Maybe I just needed a smaller bike that I could control more easily and where my feet could touch the ground without too much trouble. Hmmm….

Of course, if I DID have a bike, I would want it to be like one of these…

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well, maybe not pink…

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but definitely a flowered basket…

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absolutely, flowers…

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and then I would have to ride somewhere and buy some flowers…

But other styles are nice as well. Maybe you need two baskets…

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The baskets are lined!

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or some custom leather…

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or a great color…

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but it would be flowers for me.

ImageAnd finally, here’s a bike I saw in Rome. Not sure what the parking requirements are, but it was rather fascinating to see. Evidently, biking Italians have a great sense of humor as well. Gotta love it!

And I just read that in 2011, Italians bought more bikes than they did cars. Italians love their cars, too, but in this small country where the economy has tanked like everywhere else, a bike is a practical solution. And if you have less than 5 km to commute – it is probably faster.

Not to mention that the price of petrol is about 2 euros a liter – the highest in Europe.

So I am going to miss this culture where everyone is walking or riding a bike to get around. And yes, you can’t go too far without a car or public transport. I just like the fact that life here is very active. You take the train, you ride the bus, you get on your bike – or you just go out the front door and go. The weather is rarely a deterrent. I saw one man riding his bike and holding an umbrella over him and his little dog cradled in his arm!

Ahh, Italy.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jean Miller Ader
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 10:39:26

    You really would need a bell on your bicycle. Definitely a bell along with flowers. Do they rent bikes there? I think you should at least try one before you leave. (I’m back to reading .. lots to catch up on. We’ll see how far I get!) Have I mentioned how incredibly jealous I am of you getting to spend all of this time having “bentures?” -Jeanie Beanie

    Reply

  2. Billy D
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 06:33:08

    That little bike looks like one of those fold up jobs, easy to stow away. I like how may customize their ride!

    Reply

  3. Paula
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 16:17:38

    Well, I’m with you. Flowers! Definitely flowers. I think I like the wire basket with flowers bike. Wish you could’ve got a pic of the man, umbrella ,cradleing his little dog. Yep! Ahhhh EEEEtaly!!

    Reply

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