I recently spent a week and a half in the Tuscany region of central Italy. My visit began with a stay in the oldest part of Florence, the section of town most amenable to tourists on foot and residents on bicycles.
I saw a 24-hour clock that runs from right to left, watched as the man who sold me a lithograph went on to paint the Ponte Vecchio on the business card he handed me, and chased down a massive gelato melt in front of Santa Maria Novella, which features a facade completed in 1470.
I also saw more than a few bicycles.
Kickstand on this side, massive stone building on the other. Obviously, the owner decided only the weight of history could provide the proper amount of stability for a parked bicycle.
He or she wasn’t the only one.
I’ve never been in a city so dominated by hardscape. Vegetation was largely reserved for private interior courtyards. As a result, the softest thing in this and other pictures is the bicycle’s air-filled tires.
Of course it’s not all single speeds in Florence. There are plenty of bikes with derailleurs. After all, there are the bridges over the Arno to contend with.
Roadsters are transportation bikes. Durable and absolutely real–just like the operable and substantial window shutters on virtually every building I saw. Both shutters and bicycles may look attractive, but they were designed first for functionality.
Another derailleur-equipped bike that shares the general roadster silhouette, save for this one’s remarkably low stand-over height, parked, like so many others, on the most substantial sidewalks in Christendom.
More bicycles to come…