by Julia Roberts, Greenheart Travel Language Exchange Homestay participant in Italy
This afternoon Beppe asked if I wanted to go see some “Buddha relics” that were on display downtown. I said sure, not knowing what that entailed but sticking to my “yes” policy. We go by bike, he said. Be careful, because I don’t have insurance for you, and it’s dangerous. Yup, I said, attempting to suppress the death-visions that popped into my head at the thought of riding one of his vintage bikes over Roman-era cobblestones alongside Italian drivers.
I got the bright red bike from Amsterdam which I’d date around 1975–a single-speed with questionable brakes, complete with red basket and a bell that rings like a church. It rattled and groaned as we careened through throngs of people. I was holding on to the handlebars for dear life. Think my bones are still faintly vibrating, actually. I was already lightheaded from a long run this morning, so I still don’t understand how I didn’t hit anyone, or how that bus didn’t hit me, but we’re all okay so I’m not complaining. Almost all of us, that is…
Didn’t get the specifics, but Beppe said it was imperative that I careen around Piazza Maggiore for a minute. Maybe something along the lines of: if you haven’t made yourself ridiculous and chased pigeons around in the center of Bologna, you haven’t really lived. I’ll take it. Felt like I was eight years old again, doing giddy circles around the piazza and getting plenty of amused stares on our second and third runs through. Was very proud of my clattering, badass bike.