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Bikes and Beaches - South of Rome, Circeo Park
The following is an easy cycling trip you can make from Rome to the seaside south of Rome and along some of the saltwater lakes. The route is completely flat. This is best during the week in July and August to avoid beach traffic, though a good deal of the route is along unpaved roads. There are seaside bars all long the beach if you need to stop for sandwiches or water. You can make the ride as long or short as you like by taking certain variations of the route.
An advantage to going to the beach by bike is that you can get to less accessible beaches, which tend to be much less crowded.
How to Get There
Take the train from Rome to Latina Scalo, just 3 stops and about 35 minutes. Unfortunately, the train station is a bit of a ride from the beach, about 15 km one way, and part of it along busy roads. If you can get there by car, all the better. Take the Pontina to Latina and follow the roads to Latina Lido. Park in the parking lot at the seaside and pick up the route at Lungomare below.
The Bike Route
From the train station, exit to your left, ignoring the "do not enter" signs. Curve around to the right and merge with the main road. This is a pine tree lined road that takes you straight to Latina Centro, roughly 8 km. There will be traffic and there is not much of a shoulder. Once you enter Latina, turn right at the traffic light at via XVIII Dicembre. After about 0.5 km, turn left on Corso della Repubblica.
At the main square, take the road that goes off to the right toward the soccer stadium, a large unattractive block of cement. The road ends after a few blocks at the stadium and you should turn left and then at the traffic light, turn right.
This is the road that will take you to the beach. The red brick sidewalk you see is actually a bike path, so you can hop on it to get out of the traffic. Follow this road for another 7 km to the beach. About halfway to the beach, you'll pass under the Pontina and the bike path will become a wide bike lane. You'll see the saltwater lake of Fogliano on your left. We will be riding along it later in the day.
At the seaside, turn left and follow the Lungomare. You'll have the beach on your right and Lago Fogliano on your left. After about 4 km the road will curve around to the left and you'll be following a canal, Rio Martino. After 2 km, turn right on the bridge over the canal and double back on the road parallel to the one we just came in on. You'll be traveling in the opposite direction on the other side of the canal. You will see and smell buffalo. This is mozzarella di bufala country.
After about 2 km the road ends. Or does it? No, this is the fun part! Walk your bike through the sand and lift it over the little cement wall (only about a foot high) or you can even walk around it. You are now on an unpaved path that goes along the top of the dunes, with the beach and sea down on your right and the saltwater lake Lago dei Monaci on your left.
Since you can't get here by car, after about 1 km, the beach becomes deserted, with just a few fishermen. This is a rarity in Italy. And I love an empty beach. In the photo you can see Monte Circeo in the background.
The only downside to this path is that sand blows across it and you will occasionally have to walk your bike through it. This is only for very short distances of about 3-5 meters, but it is a bit of a pain to get on and off the bike.
The path goes along the dunes for about 3 km and then connects back with the paved road along the seaside. You have 2 choices here. You can continue straight along the seaside, and in 16 km you are right under Monte Circeo. Of course you can turn back at any time. The beaches do get more crowded here, partly because it is accessible by car and partly because Sabaudia is the in place.
The other option is to turn left and follow the bike path along the right of the road. After about 1 km, there is an unpaved road to the left and a sign that says Parco del Circeo. This is a lovely tree lined road that is nice and shady in the summer.
The road is a bit rough and rocky at times. I have ridden it several times with my hybrid and skinny tires and had no problems. A mountain bike would probably be better, though. You'll see more buffalo along this road as it passes through the fields. After 3 km you'll be back at the canal, Rio Martino.
Cross over the bridge and head back toward the seaside. After less than 0.5 km you'll see another unpaved road off to the right. Take this road, which is much smoother than the last. You'll be passing through the fields again and most of the road is shady.
After 2 km, you come upon an unusual sight, Borgo di Villa Fogliano. An English villa in the middle of Southern Lazio. This is now the headquarters of the park and the forestali - forest rangers.
Continue past the villa, through the gate and follow the path off to the left. You'll see Lago di Folgiano ahead of you. Go through another gate and follow the path along the lake off to your right.
The path follows the lake and is wide at first and then becomes a narrow path. If you're lucky, you'll find the tall grass cut along this narrow path. After about 2.5 km, you'll come to another sort of gate. This is to keep the buffalo out (yes, they are here, too) but allow people to pass. It is narrow and you'll have to walk your bike upright through it. Just hold the brakes and pull the bike up vertically on the back tire and wheel it through the gate.
A few hundred meters ahead you'll find another gate. To the left there is a narrow opening that you can just get your bike through. Alternatively, you can use the narrow opening about 30 meters to the left of the gate to walk through.
Now you are on the Litoranea. This is not a very busy road but the cars fly. You'll want to hug the white line at the side of the road; there's not much of a shoulder. Follow this for 2.5 km and at the traffic light, turn right and you're back in the bike lane heading for Latina and then Latina Scalo.
If you can get here by car, the trip is only 30 km, not counting any optional pedaling along the road to Sabaudia. If you come by train, the kilometers double as it is 15 km one way from the train station at Latina Scalo. It is still a very easy ride, all flat, no hills.
www.slowtrav.com/italy/bike/: Biking in Italy, articles describing bike routes and taking bikes on trains.
www.trenitalia.com: TrenItalia, the Italian train system.
www.slowtrav.com/italy/trains/: Notes about using trains in Italy.
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