Beware of the Bicycle Thief

by Joseph Sutton (Syracuse University)

Are you looking for a faster way to hop around Florence? You’re in luck: Florence is a city full of bicycles.

It is self-evident to me that bicycles are a common and efficient way of transport. So, I decided to buy a new bicycle and it lifted my study abroad experience into a new dimension because it opened new roads for me to discover.

One chilly night, I tied my bicycle up to a bike post on the corner of Via dei Tosinghi. Through the metal frame, wheel, and pole, I weaved my rugged lock. Later the next morning, I approached the bike rack in confusion. My bicycle had been stolen. The lock was snipped and I was bike-less. What was I going to do next? I thought to myself. Walking is another healthy and enjoyable way to explore the city, but at times I just wanted to get to my destination faster. It was a traumatic moment of biting reality for me.

After speaking with local Florentine cyclists on the street, I was advised to buy a secondhand bike that looks used. New bikes are prone to getting stolen quite easily. During my hunt, I was sent to numerous different shops.

Scarpelli bicycle shop was my first stop. I found an abundant selection of bikes here ranging from €40 to €80. Later that day, I met a pizza delivery boy on the street and figured he would know where to find a cheap used bike in good condition. He sent me to a bike repair shop that sells used bicycles.

There was no way of knowing the function of the shop from the exterior, which made it difficult to find. It can be found – eventually – to the left of Bar Latteria (Via Giotto, 37, 50121 Firenze). If Scarpelli doesn’t work for you, this nameless shop has a good selection of used bicycles from €40 to €50.

Many shops sell new bicycles, for example, Cicli Sergio Bianchi (Via San Gallo, 42 r, 50129 Firenze). They offer a student deal for €129, which includes a new Bianchi bike, new lights, and a lock. When you leave Florence, the shop will buy back your bike for about less than half the price. Florence is relatively flat so a fixed-gear bicycle should be fine, especially since gears only raise the price.

When doing your lock shopping, keep in mind that you will want to buy the strongest and most durable lock. At times, the lock is almost as expensive as the bicycle.

Photo: Abus Ivera Chain 7210 Lock (most bicycle shops sell it)

Parking your bicycle and locking it is the most important part of the battle/game to keep your bike secured. Weave your lock through the wheel and frame. If you live somewhere where you can bring the bicycle inside, you won’t have to worry about the late-night lock clippers. Find a place to store your bicycle. One estimate I came across says that around 1,000 bicycles are stolen every year in Florence.

Other bike shops I visited were: Florence By Bike, Giramondo By Bike, LeKlèt Bicycle Store, and Mazzoni Marco.

Always be careful while riding, remember to wear a helmet, lock your bike, and follow the cyclist traffic laws. Click here for information on road safety and what to expect while riding in Italy. Purchasing a bicycle in Florence was life-changing for me because it allowed me to tour the city from multiple angles, as well as take responsibility of my two-wheeled friend. As I reflected on my bicycle odyssey, the classic film, Ladri di Biciclette (1948) came to my mind and I realized that some problems never leave us, namely theft. Fortunately, the solution is (the shop) just around the corner.

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