by Melinda Gallo

Bike ride to Sesto Fiorentino

I love riding my bici (bike) and because the weather has been quite moderate, I decided to ride my bici to Sesto Fiorentino. I usually take the bus, but I figured it would be fun to take a ride out there. Alessandro told me that Sesto Fiorentino was given its name because it is six kilometers outside of Florence. It wasn't until I went on the Internet that I discovered that it is actually six miles from Florence.

I started by riding my bici to the train station which means that I have to ride it down a few streets that appear pedonali (pedestrian), but are not. I rang my bell at people walking in the street and try to ride slowly behind them because I never know which way they will go.

Crossing via Calzaiuoli when I'm in via Condotta is one of the intersections I don't like much. I try to keep close to anyone else who might be crossing it with me like a taxi, another bici, or a small bus.

Then, I swung past Piazza Repubblica toward via Tornabuoni and got past the buses that stop to pick up passengers on the corner where the street suddenly narrows. Once I made my way through that small intersection, I turned down a few one way streets. I squeeze myself past a car or two to get to the front of the intersection. The second the light turns green, I take off only to find a few pedestrians who want to walk right in front of me at the same time. I ring my bell and weave my way through them to cut across the intersection.

The big rotonda (roundabout) in front of the station is one of those places where I just stick to the right and look out for any car, motorino (scooter) or other bici coming straight at me. Anyone behind or next to me will have to look out for themselves because I can't spin my head around to see everything.

Once I made it past the train station, I arrived at the Fortezza where there was a bumpy bike path. As I ride past the fountain in the middle of the park, I am reminded why I like to ride my bici. The small park is quiet with only a few people sitting on the wooden benches far apart from one another.

I crossed the six-lane viale (large avenue) that circles the Fortezza when the crosswalk light turns green, and went down a bus lane to go through my old neighborhood.

When I finally got to the main road that leads to Sesto Fiorentino, I was sweating. Not just from the humidity and long distance I'd already ridden, but also from the stress of having so many cars, buses, and motorini that I had to keep my eye on.

It wasn't until I turned onto viale XX Settembre in Sesto Fiorentino that I noticed that I was going uphill. I had wondered why the last few minutes riding my bici were a little more difficult than when I started.

When I got within a block of my friend's house, I jumped off my bici so that I could cool myself off. The minute my friend let me in, I sat down and drank a liter of water.

To go back to Florence, I was a little more prepared. The first few kilometers were easy because I was going downhill. I was surprised by how much more traffic there was in the afternoon than when I left this morning.

When I got to the train station, I had to go down the sidewalk, which I hate, and then go on the street in the opposite direction. At one point, I had to cut across the main bus terminal, turn in front of the taxi station, and get back on the main road.

I followed via de' Cerretani from the train station to the Duomo because it seems that the streets of Florence are even more packed with tourists these days and it was just easier to deal with a few cars instead of hundreds of pedestrians.

I made it to my piazza, locked up my bici, and went up the stairs to my apartment. I plopped myself down on my couch and drank more water. My 21-kilometer (13-mile) bike ride was more than enough for one day. The next time I go to Sesto Fiorentino, I'll ride my bici to the train station and take the bus. It would take me about the same amount of time, bar the waiting at the bus stop, but I'd rather wait patiently on the sidewalk than take my life into my own hands on streets that certainly aren't made for bici.

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