Off the beaten path of Rome: seeing the Appian Way & Aqueducts by bike!

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off the beaten path of Rome

We went on a family trip to Italy last spring. It was delightful, and you can read more about how the trip got started here, all our Italian trips and tips here and here. A bunch of time has passed since the trip, and to say we have been busy since is an understatement. So now, in November, I’m reflecting on how grateful I am for all the experiences of the past year with this set of recaps.

There is so much of Rome to see. But if you’re like us, sometimes you need a break from the fast-paced city. 

Enter a bike tour to the Appian Way. We can’t imagine any other way to see it!

We met at 10:30 in the morning for a lengthy day of biking. Once we got outfitted with our bikes, helmets, and rain ponchos (which were thankfully never needed!), we were off.

  Checking out our eco-assist bikes for the day.

Checking out our eco-assist bikes for the day.

Our tour guide was Fabio, who not only was a wealth of knowledge, spitting out information about everything we saw throughout the day, but he could also probably compete in the Tour de France. Fabio carefully led us through the streets of Rome, stopping traffic for us as needed. For this first short segment, it was all about getting accustomed to our new bikes.

  Our bike tour group.

Our bike tour group.

We happened to get the eco-assist bikes for our day-long tour. With the push of a button, we received a little extra power which was great when biking over tricky terrain, or up some of the steady inclines. Could we have done the whole thing without the assistance? Yeah. Did we enjoy having the ability to turn it on as we wished? Yup!

We rode over the cobblestones and up a bit of a hill — the first time I was thankful for the assistance the bike provided!

Our first stop was at one of the seven hills of Rome. It was a remarkably well preserved part of the wall surrounding the city in ancient days. We rode on a bit further and saw the Basilica of Paul and John, which had a very rare tower attached to it. There were loads of details that I could never properly retell, but Fabio told us all about it, and it was fascinating! 

  First stop on the bike tour: one of the seven hills of Rome.

First stop on the bike tour: one of the seven hills of Rome.

We rode down a beautiful cobblestone street with walls, grass, and flowers on either side the whole way. We soon came to the double arches, marking the edge of the city. It was crazy seeing modern cars and buses driving under the ancient arches. We stopped for some pics and continued on our way, seeing fewer and fewer cars as we got further from Rome.

  Arches outside of Rome.

Arches outside of Rome.

Soon we came to the Appian Way, and cruised up a beautiful tree-lined and freshly paved road to the catacombs. With a man cutting grass nearby, it was the idyllic country setting; it was hard to believe we were just moments from the busy city-center! This was probably the moment that we appreciated our “high” assistance on our bikes the most…we hardly broke a sweat while taking in the scenery and biking up a steady incline. 

We reached the the catacombs in time for our 12 pm tour. We had the chance to hear a little about the oldest catacombs in the world, and understood what this meant to the Christians centuries ago. It was a very spiritual place, and chilly, too! We spent time deep in the catacombs, admiring the archaeological finds from long ago. (No photos were allowed inside, though!)

  A stop, tour, and snack at the ancient catacombs outside of Rome.

A stop, tour, and snack at the ancient catacombs outside of Rome.

Soon we were on our way again…luckily we had packed a snack and ate that first…we had no idea that lunch wouldn’t be until 3pm!

Now was when the fun really started. We cruised along the ancient roadway called the Appian Way. It was beautiful, and the history was truly amazing. It was built as a faster way for the Roman troops to march south, and was named after the man who commissioned it, Appia. 

  A stop along the Appian Way.

A stop along the Appian Way.

One of the coolest sights of the day had to be the ancient aqueducts. It’s crazy to think about the sheer ingenuity required to plan and build these ancient waterways. They now stand so stately in the farmland, with a biking and running trail, plus a golf course, peacefully coexisting with the remaining ruins. 

  A ride along the Roman Aqueducts on a warm May day.

A ride along the Roman Aqueducts on a warm May day.

On our ride home, we stopped at a sheep farm.

  Sheepdog on the sheep farm just outside of Rome.

Sheepdog on the sheep farm just outside of Rome.

We enjoyed some local wine and got to try the farm fresh cheese. It was a well-earned end to our day!

  Fresh sheep cheese and local wine at the sheep farm on our way home.

Fresh sheep cheese and local wine at the sheep farm on our way home.

We pulled back into the bike shop around 4:30pm, tired, but feeling well-accomplished. It was a really cool and efficient way to see a part of Rome that’s a bit off the beaten path. We would recommend this tour for anyone who has already seen the main sights and is looking for a day of exercise in yet another ancient part of Rome!

If you’re ever looking for something a bit off the beaten path, check out this tour: Ancient Appian Way, Catacombs and Roman Aqueducts Electric-assist Bicycle Tour (affiliate link). We can’t recommend it highly enough!

It was a great day! And we couldn’t beat out walk home along the Colosseum and Forum!
Bella Roma!

  Tired and happy after a long day of biking outside of Rome!

Tired and happy after a long day of biking outside of Rome!