Friday, Aug. 07, 2009

Verona, Italy

Route: City Center loop
Distance: 5 miles (8 km)

The historic center of Verona is almost completely encircled by a sharp curve in the wide Adige River, which makes it easy to pedal around these ancient streets and alleyways without fear of straying too far. Bikes can be rented at stalls on the corner of Piazza Bra and Via Roma, which should serve as the southern border of this free-form trip. Since cars are prohibited in parts of Verona's city center — it's not friendly to traffic at any rate — your ride will be relatively stress-free. The Arena, Verona's famous — and enormous — Roman amphitheater, is here; so is the Museo di Castelvecchio, housed in a 14th century castle on the riverbank. Also not to miss: the Porta dei Borsari, an ancient Roman gate; the Arche Scaligere, a walled cemetery whose gates are an outstanding example of Gothic architecture; and Via Leoni, where you can peer into excavated Roman ruins. The heart of the city is the lovely Piazza delle Erbe, which was the former home of the Roman Forum and is less touristy than Piazza Bra. As always in Italy, there is excellent food and drink in all directions.