Biciclette al mare/Bicycles by the sea

When things on the streets of the UK seem to be a bit tense, I hope to cheer everyone up  with some holiday snaps of some relaxed, simple, old-fashioned cycling…

Location: Marina Romea, a small family resort on the Adriatic coast of Italy, near beautiful Ravenna, in the Emilia-Romagna region (the Romagna bit).

Scene: an everyday occurrence between June and September, the vast majority of people staying in the village reach the beach by bicycle. On the beach you’ll find, one after the other (about every 100m), little cafes/restaurants. They are called ‘Bagni’, which should be translated as ‘Baths’, but also ‘Toilets’ (that still is a source of great fun for my mainly English-speaking children…). Bagni also manage the bit of sandy space in front of them (they put beds and parasols, clean the beach, and provide entertainment like playgrounds, table and beach tennis tournaments, etc.).  They all provide bike racks, which fill up quickly on weekdays and are definitely not enough at weekends, when bikes are really parked everywhere (in one of the busiest day I counted 296 bikes at our bagno). The one where my family have been going for years is Bagno Susy.

Characters: some pretty old, or rather vintagy, but very effective (for going from A to B) bicycles.

Same settings below, but a different day

The beach is separated from the village, and the main road, by a pine forest. There are small roads starting from the main avenue and reaching the different bagni through the forest.

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These roads are also used by few cars trying to reach the few parking spots next to the cafes, and some delivery vans, generally in the early morning. There are a lot of cars at the weekend squeezed in the tiny car parks, and the result is that every 5 minutes there is a call from the cafe for someone to move a car….(while if you find a bicycle right on yours, you can simply lift it and put it somewhere else).

The pace of cycling is slow and relaxed in the village itself, as you can see from this (not very high quality, sorry) video:

But the pace, as well as the types of bikes people use are very similar in nearby Ravenna, a very cycling friendly city, where 22% of all trips are made by bike; and that applies to many others cities in the region, like Ferrara (27%) and Reggio Emilia (23%), the city where I was born (more info about cycling in those cities here).

You do encounter cars in the streets like the one above, but drivers are generally very careful, especially when they see children (but no cargo bikes around, yet). Most drivers also have a bike and use it frequently in the same streets. That is not always the case of the people driving along the main road where the limit is 30kph; not always respected by those passing by, unless the Carabinieri from the local station are there. ..

So, there is a good separated cyclepath (shared with pedestrians) along the main road, that is part of that connecting Porto Corsini (where you can find the best Piadina of the area) in the South and Casal Borsetti to the North. It begins in Porto Corsini right from the middle of the sea. Here is a pic of it right outside of Marina Romea going South.

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And you can see a bit of the cyclepath in the centre of the village (where there is more separation between bicycles and pedestrians) in the following very short video, where we are riding a Riscio’ four-wheeler bike (that sits two adults and two children), very popular among tourists in the Riviera Romagnola [being almost local, and having a lot of family in Ravenna do not qualify me as a tourist, so I rented the Riscio’ purely for research purposes….]

Ahead of the location where we were with the Riscio’, the cyclepath stops for a bit, and then starts again right outside the village. Generally you can avoid the main road by using the small residential streets that run parallel to it. But it is difficult to avoid it completely when going to the beach. So most people cycling, and especially those doing so with children, use a tiny bit of the pavement, before reaching the road leading to their bagno. There is a sign painted on the pavement saying pedestrians only. However, the number of people cycling on it is way less than the number of drivers using it as a parking space at weekends (look at the beautiful view of the pine forest you could enjoy from the bench in the pic below…).

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So, the simple solution would be to build a separated cyclepath on that side of the road, in order to connect to the two other existing bits. That would also stop people parking their cars on the pavement (a free piece of advise for the City of Ravenna administration). And most people I have talked to also agree that cars should not be allowed to go up to the beach itself, as in most cases they have to get back to the village as there are not enough parking spots next to the bagni. They also often block access for disabled drivers and for emergency vehicles and, as I said above, they simply force the people working in the bagni to spend a lot of times at the microphone asking for people to move their cars out the way.

But I was supposed to cheer everyone up, so here is another pic of the beautiful pine forest, that was a bit of a refuge when temperature was around 40 degrees Celsius (the temperature under the trees was about 37…).

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On the other side of the village, there is a beautiful lagoon that is part of the River Po delta park. And that’s not all. In Marina Romea you can find very good food (the fried fish ‘fritto misto’ and ‘cappellacci con ricotta al ragu‘ served at the Bagno Susy, especially) but also very good pizza, and the best gelato you’ll ever try, that of the Gelateria Margherita in Piazza Torino.

That’s all. Thank you very much for reading. Comments or questions are very welcome. Please use the box below.

All the best

Alberto

4 September 2017

All opinions expressed in this post are my own and I have received no incentive whatsoever from any of the companies, organisations or businesses mentioned above

Here you can read about me, this is a bit about my research, and here you can see my publications. You can follow me on twitter here

 

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