Virtual Tour: Rome, Italy

Hello, world. Are you ready for an exciting virtual trip to Roma, Italy? Yes, that's right, a tour of one of the most wonderful cities in existence. Of course we won't simply tell you about the beautiful sites -- and there are thousands of them -- we'll let you have a look around Roma from a motorcyclist's perspective.

First, you've surely heard about the Colosseo.

The Colosseo is a 2000 year-old architectural masterpiece that was used as an opera. The ancient Romans used to go there to see Gladiators fighting against wild animals. And this heritage may be one of the reasons for current Roman bikers' aggressive way of riding -- we always seem to be 'fighting' terrible traffic everyday. Just beside the Colosseo stands the Foro Romano. It's what remains of ancient Roma, and contains many monuments and works of art.

You will also read about how Roma was founded: Legend says that it was founded by two brothers: Romulus and Remus, descendants of Trojan prince Aeneas. Just like most cities of the past Roma was built around the nearest river, the Tevere.

Another neat characteristic of Roma is that it stands on seven hills: I S ette Colli. Their names are: Colle Celio, Colle Palatino, Colle Av entino,Colle Esquilino, Colle Quirinale,Colle Viminale, Colle Campidoglio ; this makes Roma's roads quite nice to ride (of course only between 2:00 am and 5:00 am, otherwise traffic is terrible!). As you can guess, the biggest problem in modern day Rome is traffic. The government is trying to better this situation with many projects: Building new parking garages, new tubes (subways), preferential lanes, and so on. But in the meantime the Roman people -- and all Italians, for that matter -- have found a solution: Scooters and bikes. They're everywhere! Especially in Roma -- about 40 percent of all the scooters sold in Italy were bought in Rome (about 400,000 units).

Effectively, scooter riders are not really bikers -- they are more an odd phenomenon than a political power in the two-wheeled world.

To one side of the Colosseo stands Colle Oppio. Two old buildings are there, first is the Colle Oppio: Basilica di S. Pietro in V incoli inside of which there is the 'Mose,' one of the most beautiful sculptures by Michelangelo.

Immediately beside it stands the Faculty of Engineering. This building is important for two reasons: Obviously for its great artistic and historic value, -- in fact, in the past it was a monastery and its front face and internal gardens are really beautiful. It is also one of the places in Roma where you can find "real" bike enthusiasts. Of course the Faculty of Engineering is not the only place where you can find bikers in Roma, but it's a good place to start if your looking for fun. In Roma, there are also many groups of people that go out of town for the weekend to do some nice "sightseeing," except they don't really go sightseeing. Instead, they're looking to make their own GP race on the roads to a favored shop or pub, with all the disastrous consequences that you can imagine.

Fontana di Trevi Coming back to the description of Roma, you need to know that it is split into 'QUARTIERI' (suburbs) and all around the center of the city runs the so-called 'Grande Raccordo Anulare,' an overcrowded freeway surrounding Roma. The most beautiful quartieri are the Parioli and the Prati Tries te. Among the many beautiful monuments standing in Rome are the:

Young people living in Roma have some really strange motorcycling traditions. They choose a place and spend most Saturday evenings there racing each other with their bikes or scooters, though many often crash. So the police come and shut it down and the whole scene moves else where. Of course it is not really a healthy way to spend your Saturday, but it happens.

Scalinata di Trinita dei Monti. Naturally people living near the roads chosen for these games are not really happy... so our local heroes periodically change the place where we go. Through the years, as sites come and go, one road stands out in my memory: A twisty stretch of pavement called Via Gregorio VII. It winds around one of the four big parks of Roma, the Villa doria Phanfili, and became so famous that many riders used to stay there on Saturday evening. So you could see wheelies and racing all night, all the while smelling a fantastic panino con porchetta (it's a special treat of Roma: bread with pork meat). Unfortunately these games were really dangerous, with some really stupid riders cruising around -- I remember watching four boys all together on the same bike, a Honda CB400N, doing a wheelie for a kilometer or so. After some mortal accidents, the police decided to stop these games and everything ended. Luckily not all Romans are young people and not all young people are so crazy, but Italians are well know for their disregard for personal safety.

In all, though, motorcycling is very popular in Roma, and there are many responsible riders and fans alike, many of whom like to congregate at the circuit of Vallelunga. Located just 50 km from Roma, it's not difficult to get there. Max Biaggi, the reigning 250cc World Grand Prix Champion, tested his awesome talents there for the first time.

Well, it's time to end this brief introduction to Roma -- of course we could go on talking about Roma for days, but it's time to go ride!

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