One of my greatest joys in adult life is doing what I did as a ten year old—ride a bike. And I do it every day. It’s the preferred mode of transportation around here, as far as I can see. Traffic is dense, parking is virtually impossible. Ergo: Drive a car? Why?
Additionally, the scale and topography of Milan are perfect for getting around on two wheels. And then there are the aesthetics of the vehicles themselves. I’m not knocking the bikes you get at the large sporting centers. I’ve had my share of transportation made in China. But there’s something deeply appealing about a velocipede that didn’t roll off the assembly line, one that adheres to a certain design sensibility, one that fits you like a well-tailored Milanese suit. Milan has its share of boutique bicycle manufacturers; in our household, we are enjoying the wares of two of them: Doniselli and Detto Pietro. It’s not my desire to crow about brands in this weblog, but these people deserve the credit they are due for their art as well as their craft.
While both makers churn out a full line of all types of biciclette, we tend to chose the “easy rider” varieties, the Dutch versions. And Doniselli does this bike beautifully. Ageless, gracefully proportioned. Just a perfect bike for cruising around town, in pants or skirts, heels or ballerina flats. Functional, fashionable. Flawless.
This Detto Pietro is a jazzier take on the same aesthetic, with fatter tubing and tires, luxurious leather and chrome appointments, and a front mounted basket rack. This bike “sits” like a Harley or an easy chair. No slumping forward over your handlebars. No dull ache between the shoulder blades. No stress. No bother. And equipped with a Shimano internal gear-shift, almost no sweat. Fashion accessory? Undoubtedly.
If you’re visiting Milan and lugging a bike back in the luggage wrack isn’t on your agenda, the Comune di Milano “rents” bikes for free. They are located around the city, near the major tourist destinations and train stations. If you see a row of light orange-yellow bikes, you’ve spotted them. Take one, and go!