Giro d’Italia, The Beatiful Race (Part Two)

The heart of Italy: hidden culture, history and nature.

Italics Magazine continues to take you on the two wheels throughout the Giro d’Italia and its magic places.

May 11, Pizzo – Praia a Mare (Calabria, 159 km)

After Sicily, the Giro d’Italia approaches Italy’s mainland, continuing from Calabria northwards, as the Allies did during the Second World War. The stage begins in Pizzo Calabro, a quaint village on a headland in the Gulf of Sant’Eufemia. Very popular for its ice cream, it is regarded worldwide as the ‘city of ice cream’. The house speciality is ‘tartufo‘, a large ball of ice cream filled with molten chocolate. Then, the race will run along the Tyrrenian coast of Calabria, on a state road full of suggestive landscapes, until the town of Praia a Mare, well-known holiday town in the northern part of the region. Here, beyond the long beaches, there is the beatiful sanctuary of Madonna della Grotta, a church hidden into a natural cave.

Praia a Mare, Calabria

May 12, Praia a Mare – Montevergine di Mercogliano (Calabria – Campania, 209 km)

The following stage is more than two hundred kilometers and continues along the Tyrrenian coast of Southern Italy, across Basilicata region and the famous city of Maratea, where it is possible to admire the statue of Christ the Redeemer, the highest Italian statue with its twenty-two meters, built atop Mountain San Biagio. Then, entering Campania region, the cyclists will head to the subregion of Cilento. This is another World Heritage Unesco site, thanks to the namesake, gorgeous national park, and to the historical and mythologic towns of Velia and Paestum, ancient Greek colonies known as Elea and Poseidonia, whose ruins are something unique and magic.

Temples in Paestum, Campania

The Giro d’Italia will also cross Agropoli, the biggest populated area in the Cilentian coast, with the wonderful Aragonese Castle on the top of a promontory, built during the age of the Byzantin Empire. The race will continue in the important provincial capital of Salerno, the second biggest city and harbour in Campania region, famous for hosting a beatiful exhibition of Christmas lights in December, and will finish uphill, on the Partenio Mountains, more specifically in Montevergine of Mercogliano (Avellino), where the 1270 meters above the sea sanctuary of Montevergine is worshipped by the residents and, at least this time, by the racers as well!

The statue of Chirst the Redeemer, Maratea

May 13, Pesco Sannita – Gran Sasso d’Italia/Campo Imperatore (Campania – Abruzzo, 225 km)

This is one of the hardest and most mountainous stages of Giro d’Italia. Indeed, it will start from the town of Pesco Sannita in the province of Benevento, famous for one of the most delicious Italian red wines, the ‘Aglianico’. Later, it will continue on the central Apennines, in Isernia (Molise), to finally cross into Abruzzo, through the city of Castel di Sangro and the mountain village of Roccaraso, at 1252 meters high. This town was completely destroyed by the bombings during the Second World War and its citizens fighted with the Partisans against the Nazis, so much to get the badge of honor. Nowadays, Roccaraso is a popular ski resort hosting many ski competitions.

Gran Sasso, Abruzzo

The stage ends with a challenging, long climb of forty-five kilometres on the highest mountain of the Italian Apennines, called Gran Sasso d’Italia. Its two horns, one big, one little, are its highest peaks, from where it is possible to see both the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic seas! The finish line is at 2135 meters high, in the heart of Gran Sasso, on the Campo Imperatore highland, also known as ‘Little Tibet’ for its wonderful mountain landscapes.

Horses in Campo Imperatore, Abruzzo

May 15, Penne – Gualdo Tadino (Abruzzo – Umbria, 239 km)

After a one day break, the Giro D’Italia resumes with its longest stage. From the town of Penne, considered to be among the most beautiful villages in Italy and natural front door of the Gran Sasso National Park, the race will pass by Rigopiano, sadly become famous in January 2017, when an avalanche buried the luxury resort Hotel Rigopiano, killing twenty-nine people and injuring another eleven. The rescue workers and the Italian firefighters faced a bordeline impossibile operation, due to the extremely difficult climatic conditions and the impossibility to identify the location of the hotel. Eventually, they saved nine people trapped under the snow, including four children, thus deserving a badge of honor and the commotion of people from all over the world.

Ascoli Piceno, Marche

While crossing the central Apennines, the Giro d’Italia will then touch the cities of Teramo and Ascoli Piceno, trespassing Marche region on the Sibillini Mountains, an area that was badly affected by the earthquake of August 2016. The finish line is in Gualdo Tadino, Umbria, an historical and important city for the production of high-quality ceramic, but also for its mineral water sources and its cultural and traditional events.

Gualdo Tadino, Umbria

May 16, Assisi – Osimo (Umbria – Marche, 156 km)

On May 16, the stage will start in the heart of Italy, from the native city of the Italian patron Saint Francis (San Francesco, in Italian) and Saint Clare (Santa Chiara): Assisi. The Basilica of Saint Francis, where the patron’s tomb lies, was built in the year 1253 in Italian gothic style. Together with its annex convent, it is one of the most sacred and visited Italian churches. Assisi is full of other historical monuments and work of arts, but is also popular all over the world for its folklore.

Basilica of Saint Francis, Assisi, Umbria

After Assisi, the cyclists will have to climb the mountains eastwards in the Ancona province, passing through Filottrano, residence of the cyclist Michele Scarponi, winner of the 2011 Giro d’Italia and tragically struck down by a van during a training session nearby his house. The finish line is situated in the medieval city of Osimo, rich of civil, religious and military architectures and popular for its craftsmanship.

Folklore in Osimo, Marche

May 17, Osimo – Imola (Marche – Emilia Romagna, 214 km)

The Giro D’Italia heads North along the Adriatic state road, across the coastal cities of Ancona, regional capital of Marche and one of the country’s biggest harbours, Fano and Pesaro, both important industrial centers but, at the same time, very attractive locations for summer tourism. Entering Emilia-Romagna, the race reaches the entertainment capital of Italy: Rimini. Despite for both national and international holidaymakers this town means fun and relax, for Italian cycling it is the place where the tragic death of the champion Marco Pantani took place under circumstances that even now still represent an unsolved mystery.

View on Ancona, Marche

The race continues on a level road, the so-called ‘Via Emilia’, passing through the cities of Cesena, Forlì, an old city founded during the Roman Empire and known to be the birthplace of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and Faenza. The city of Imola, final point of the stage, has the finish line in its former F1 Gran Prix circuit, now used for the Superbike MotoGP. The ‘Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari’ already hosted other cycling events, as the eleventh stage of the 2015 Giro d’Italia. For the cyclists, it will be surely the best scenario for their final sprint.

Panoramic view of the Imola circuit

Stay tuned for the next stages! The best of the Giro d’Italia is yet to come…