Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

25 July 2017

If "F" Is For "Firenze", "M" Is For...

I am going to make yet another confession.  This one may shock, surprise or even appall those of you who know anything about me.

You see...I once took a Gender Studies course.  Now that might seem like a confession in and of itself.   The real "dim dark secret", though, is that I didn't complete it.  

The instructor wasn't the problem:  She was actually very good.  For me, it was this:  The readings seemed very trite.  That is, once I translated them.  No, I wasn't reading French or German theorists.  Rather, I was rendering them from the abstruse, abstract terminology and the tortured sentence structure in which they were written--only to find that the authors were saying things I already knew or that were opinions masquerading as principles.  To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, "There was no there there."

So why was I thinking about that today, as I wound my way through the rooms of the Uffizi Gallery?  Well, one Michelangelo Buonarroti (yes, that Michelangelo) could have taught that class a good part of what they need to know about gender with this painting

The Holy Family with the Infant St. John The Baptist, also known as the Doni Tondo, is Michelangelo's only known panel painting.  Forget about all the little nude boys in the background:  Il Maestro definitely knew a thing or two about women

You guys all know, deep down, that no matter how strong or fast you are, nothing you do compares with the strength women exhibit in giving birth, raising children or doing any number of other things.  I find it humbling, to say the least:  Today, I cannot match the feats of strength or endurance, on my bicycle or otherwise, I could muster in my younger years.  Moreover, I have not given, and cannot give, birth.

So this is a country where a woman can have an arm muscle like Popeye's, after he's eaten his spinach

That, in a country where real men once wore skirts:

Image result for how ancient Roman men dressed

24 July 2017

Side Trip

Yesterday I mentioned that I'm taking a side trip.  I had planned it before I arrived in Rome.  This morning I will be on a train to Florence and will return to Rome tomorrow night.  Since I don't want to carry my laptop with me, I am writing this post before I leaving.  Fear not: I'll be back soon!

23 July 2017

Seven Hills--And There Are More!

You have no doubt heard that Rome is built on seven hills.  Trust me:  It isn't hype.  You become very, very aware of that fact when you cycle in this city!

I can now honestly claim that I've climbed all seven by bicyce.  Yesterday I climbed the  with Roberto:  the Aventine, Capitoline, Caelian and Esquiline.  I climbed them all again today, on a bike I rented from Bici & Baci.  I also pedaled up the Palatine, which I have to ascend, at least most of the way, to reach my hotel:  Today I scaled it bike. And I got to the Quirinal and Viminal.  

A view from Janiculum Hill.  Yes, I pedaled to see it!

Oh--the hills on which the Vatican is located, as well as the Janiculum and Pincium hills, are not counted among the seven because they are on the right bank of the Tiber, which, at the time Rome was founded, was inhabited by the Etruscans .  The "seven hills" all lie within the area that was surrounded by the Servian Wall, which enclosed the original settlement founded, according to tradition, by Romulus.

Anyway, today I rode mainly for the sake of riding and seeing more of Rome's streets and alleyways close-up. I did stop at the Castel Sant'Angelo and the Vatican, though I didn't wait on the long line to go into the museum.  I will do that later this week, when the weekday crowds--I assume--should be at least somewhat smaller than they were today.

I have to admit that the hills aren't the only challenge of cycling in Rome.  (There are other, smaller, ones in addition to the famous ones I've mentioned.)  Everything you've heard about Roman drivers is true though, to be fair, a few stopped or slowed down to let me go by.  And Roman traffic circles make their Parisian counterparts seem like elements of a Mondrian painting.  

And then there is the heat and sun.  The former, at least, is not accompanied by humidity.  So, by the end of the day, the T-shirt I wore looked like it was covered with white tie-dye swirls from the sweat that evaporated from it.  When I returned my bike, I saw Roberto again.  He, who rides in Rome every day, told me that on days like today, he can "drink five liters of water, easy."  I probably drank at least as much--at least some of it "like a Roman", as he taught me yesterday.  

But I didn't expect the sun to be as intense as it was, given that Rome lies at roughly the same latitude as New York.  (The part of Florida where my parents live lies about a dozen degrees closer to the Equator.)  Perhaps the dry air made it feel so.  Whatever the cause, I don't think I ever before used as much sunscreen as I used today!

I'll be taking a side trip tomorrow and will be back in Rome on Tuesday night.  Then I'll rent the bike again and check out the Pantheon as well as a few other places.