Riding Bikes in Rovigo
One of the first things I noticed about Rovigo, Italy, was the number of people riding bikes to get around town.
They expertly weave in and out of traffic and around roundabouts. Bikes are complete with cute baskets and riders of all ages. Sometimes you see dogs in the baskets, wind blowing their ears and tongues hanging out.
Sometimes loaves of bread.
Italians park their bikes anywhere. I mean that. I see them … just in front the store, not bothering to use a bike rack most of the time. Precious. And convenient.
I get warm fuzzies when I see the bikes out front, reaffirming this slower paced life, complete with no reliance on cars.
I especially love it when I see senior citizens effortlessly cruising around on their bikes. Makes me wish I saw that more often in America — it would solve so many problems. It’s clearly another feather in Italy’s longevity cap.
La Dolce Vita
I can’t help but notice how the Italians ride at such a leisurely rate. It’s conducive to that desired slower pace of life here in Italy. There is simply no rush. Families ride three to a bike sometimes (a baby sitting in front and an older sibling riding on the back — the bikes are outfitted for this). Interestingly, I don’t see people wear helmets.
I even once saw a dad riding his bike, balancing his toddler… on his hip with one arm (not in a designated seat!)… while steering the bike with the other hand. I was so nervous watching this precarious scene that I wanted to tear my eyes away in fear of an ugly crash, but I couldn’t. As far as I know, they survived.
Then, there was the time I saw a middle-aged Italian man riding his bike down the street, without holding onto the handle bars, because one hand was holding his cigarette, while the other was holding his cell phone while he chatted.
Fuck – I love Italians!
Looking for a Used Bike
Our goal was to get a used bike for Greg as I wrote previously, but we couldn’t find any stores selling used bikes locally. When Google was of no help, I asked the legal team helping us with out Italian dual citizenship if they knew where we could get a used bike.
Turns out they did. :) As is the case so often in Italy, word of mouth will get you much farther than Google.
Let’s Go Bike Shopping!
I visit the store on my own to see what the options are, because it’s about a mile walk which is too far for Greg. Turns out, they have just one bike that looks decent both in form and price. After using Google Translate to get the specs of the bike from the shop owner, I take pictures and send them to Greg. Everything looks promising!
We want to go back later that day, but of course… Italy. They’re closed.
Shops and Their Hours in Italy
You just learn to roll with the fact that some stores have strange hours in Italy. Some are closed for long periods during the day, some are closed on Monday, some are closed on Sunday, and some are closed in the mornings or afternoons. You just never know. Google Maps is not always your friend in these cases.
I text the owner on WhatsApp and tell him my husband is interested! We’ll be in the next day.
Easier said than done. Getting there is no easy feat. We take a taxi since it’s too far for Greg to walk with his injured hip.
With the language barrier and the meter running, we’re dropped at the wrong corner. No big deal, it can’t be far… right? Turns out getting to the block we need, although nearby, proves dangerous as we’re rerouted on a walking path where there actually is no walking path.
We form a tight single-file line against traffic, in a roundabout, and around a construction zone.
Safe and Sound
We make it to the store intact. Greg tries the bike, and finds that it makes moving around easier than walking. Yay!
After Greg finishes his test ride, he pulls the bike up on the sidewalk next to a bike store employee, who is tightening something on another customer’s bike.
At the same time, a nice car pulls up.
The employee says out loud, “Cool ride, eh?” Greg replies, thinking the employee is referring to the used bike he just test rode, “Yeah, the bike is good!”
At this, I think it’s a bit weird for the guy to say “cool ride” about such a used bike, but I figure he’s being a proper salesman.
Turns out the guy is talking about the fancy car that just pulled up. Not the bike. We all have a good laugh after we tell him we thought he was talking about the bike.
And, of course, if Greg gets a bike, we know that Kamea wants a bike.
Turns out that one of the grocery stores I walk 1/2 mile to regularly also has bikes on sale. That means it’s easy to transport it home and doesn’t require a bus or taxi.
So, we buy her a bike. Now, it’s time for me to figure out how (and where) to teach her to ride it.
At this point, I’m confident that we’re in a country with good health care that won’t bankrupt people. Plus, we know more than just each other. We have neighbors, friends, and people on speed dial if needed.
But we still got her a helmet. :)