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The freshly painted cycle path on Ponte Settimia Spizzichino, Garbatella’s new bridge

Ci-emm-ona. The letters C and M, spelled phonetically in Italian – plus that slightly elusive ona, the augmentative which basically means “the big one”. This weekend, Rome’s Critical Mass movement – which meets on a monthly basis to remind Rome’s motorists that they’re not the only road users in town – organises three days of collective cycling in the city. Part protest, part social event, and above all a celebration of the joy of riding a bike, the event starts on Friday May 31st and culminates on Sunday June 2nd with a great cycle ride to the sea.

Friday May 31st  Rome’s Critical Mass movement celebrates its 11th birthday with the “usual” outing from Piazza Vittorio. The last Friday of every month in fact CM meets at 18.30 in Piazza Vittorio for a group ride, but this one promises to be something a little special, with decorated bikes and balloons, and a fair spattering of fancy dress. Bikes, tricycles, skates, skateboards, unicycles, recumbents and tall bikes are all welcome, as are pedestrians – plus any means of transport without a motor.

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Saturday June 1st the party continues marking the official occasion of the 10th Ciemmona, meeting at the Auditorium in north Rome at 16.00 for a coordinated ride through the city’s greener spaces.

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Sunday June 2nd the appointment is at 11.30 in Piazzale Ostiense on the edge of Testaccio for a ride en masse to the sea. The only way to get from the city to the port of Ostia is along the great Cristoforo Colombo road – just a 30km stretch – but a feat tackled by very few under ordinary circumstances, due to the high volumes of traffic. This, then, is a rare chance to ride all the way to the sea in ebullient company. Expect picnics and parties on the beach at the end of it all – but don’t forget your bike chain.

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Words and photos © Isobel Lee