It's very common for Italians to ride bikes on a daily basis-and not just the young people, even older folks commonly ride. When I moved to Italy in 1996 for my study abroad program at the Univesity of Padua, one of my first purchases upon recommendation from my Italian friend Edda (pictured here with me and my kids) was a bike. I don't remember how much I paid for it, but I know that it wasn't very expensive. It had oxidized green paint, a basket in front and a bell. It was one of the best purchases I made when I was there because it served me very well for the entire year. Also, it had a basket and a bell! I lived in a dormitory pretty far from where my classes were held, so each day I either rode my bike or walked to class. The walk took about 45 minutes, and so biking made the commute much shorter. Either on my daily walks or rides, I was always impressed to see people of all ages also riding or walking. People would ride into town to do their daily food shopping, or to run another errand. At night after dinner, many Italians 'fanno una passeggiata' (take a walk) to the downtown where they meet up with friends or have a a drink or 'un gelato' (ice cream). In the United States, we tend to use our cars more than we use these two healthier methods of transportation. Also, we tend to stay in our houses more than we tend to gather in the middle of town.
One important thing to be aware of when riding or walking in Italy, is that the pedestrian doesn't have the right of way. In the U.S. we cross streets knowing full well that the cars will stop for us. Don't count on this in Italy, instead wait until the road is clear or make eye contact with the motorist. Enjoy getting to know the city while riding or on foot! Andiamo in bicicletta! Let's ride bikes!