Giro d’Italia, The Beautiful Race (Part Three)

The Alps: stunning lakes, contemporary art and unique food.

This time, on the route of the Giro d’Italia, we take you in Northern Italy, where you can find anything, from the most stunning landscapes to several famous artworks of great contemporary artists.

May 18, Ferrara – Nervesa della Battaglia (Emilia Romagna – Veneto, 180 km)

This stage of the Giro d’Italia will begin right next to the walls of Estense Castle in Ferrara, a green jewel city in Emilia Romagna, to then continue northwards, along the Po Valley. The longest Italian river will be crossed after few kilometres and the race will approach the southern part of Veneto, in the historical subregion of Polesine, whose centre is the city of Rovigo, popular for its rugby club. Finally, the cyclists will drive on a level road between the city of Padua and the stunning Venetian Lagoon.

Estense Castle, Ferrara

After reaching the city of Treviso, the Giro will meet the Piave River, called the ‘Sacred River of the Homeland’, due to the important and decisive battles the Italian soldiers fought against the Austro-Hungarian and German armies during the Great War. This watercourse became the main boundary and defensive line against the invaders until October 1918, when, in the near town of Vittorio Veneto, the Italian army won the final battle, contributing to the unravelling of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and to the end of the First World War.

The finish line lies over the ground where about 90 thousands Italian soldiers died during the Battle of Solstizio, four months before the final victory in Vittorio Veneto. The town of Nervesa della Battaglia leads to memory this epic event even in its name, and hosts the Montello Sacrarium, one of the main ossuaries of the Italian soldiers who died in the First World War, which came to an end exactly one hundred years ago, right few kilometres from here.

May 19, San Vito al Tagliamento – Monte Zoncolan (Friuli Venezia Giulia, 186 km)

This will be the first entirely mountainous stage, in the Friuli Venezia Giulia Alps, close to the northeastern border of Italy with Austria and Slovenia. Departing from the medieval city of San Vito al Tagliamento, famous for its beatiful Sanctuary of Virgin Mary from Rosa, the cyclists will climb Mount Ragogna. Then, getting across riverbed of Tagliamento, they will pass the mountain villages of Avaglio, Passo Duron and Sella Valcalda, to reach the arrive on top of Mount Zoncolan, at 1.730 meters high, where the road has a 22 percent gradient. For this reason, the Zoncolan, a big ski resort very popular among the racers, is known as the ‘Kaiser’. Gilberto Simoni, an Italian cyclist who won the first stage run here in the 2003 Giro d’Italia, remarked that the easiest part of this route equals to the hardest part of Tour de France.

Mount Zoncolan, Friuli Venezia Giulia

May 20, Tolmezzo – Sappada (Friuli Venezia Giulia – Veneto, 176 km)

The amazing tour proceeds in the Friuli Venezia Giulia Dolomites, from Tolmezzo, the most important city in the Carnia subregion. Tolmezzo, located on the main road leading to Austria, already existing during the Roman Empire, is closely related to the Alpine regiments, hosting here their main military camp. Going through the Mauria mountain pass, the Giro D’Italia will then cross into Veneto and reach the lovely villages of Cadore Valley. Then, the racers will get to the city known as the ‘Queen of Dolomites’, popular all-seasons Italian touristic destination, theater of many winter sporting events: Cortina d’Ampezzo. Cortina will greet the Giro with its several beatiful old churches and the breathtaking landscapes surrounding its area, a breathtaking view that inspired several domestic and foreign directors for their movies.

Mountain view in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Veneto

Pedaling eastwards in the Dolomites, the athletes will face the challenging Tre Croci, Sant’Antonio and Costalissoio passes, but can still admire on their left the beautiful ‘Three peaks of Lavaredo’, well-known symbols of this part of the Alps. The finish line is in Sappada, a border town between Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, where the peaceful nature and the huge variety of flowers and animals best represents the green frame of this wonderful country. Sappada is loved also for its typical houses (named Blockhaus), its several mountain huts, where you can eat great winter food, and, above all, for its folkloric, colored and busy carnival.

Carnival masks in Sappada, Veneto

May 22, Trento – Rovereto (Trentino Alto Adige, 34 km)

This individual time trial stage will cover the short distance between Trento and Rovereto, in the South of Trentino Alto Adige, the most peculiar Italian region, as it enjoys the status of autonomous province. Thanks to its age-old history beginning during the Roman Empire, until Italy’s annexation in 1919, after the end of the Great War, Trento still keeps many treasures and rocks a beatiful architecture, with several fortifications built under the Habsburg Empire, plus many archaeological sites dating from the Roman period.

Saint Vigilio Cathedral, Trento, Trentino Alto Adige

After 34 kilometers running southward and coasting the Adige River, the cyclists will arrive in the city of Rovereto. The town was heavily bombed at the end of the Second World War, as it was under the control of the German Nazi troops, during the period of the Italian Social Republic. However, its magnificient castle, known as Castel Veneto and built under the Venetian Republic in the 15th century, hosts the important ‘Italian War History Museum‘. Being an optimal stage for speedsters, maybe attendees will have the time to visit the castle before closing.

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto (MART)

May 23, Riva del Garda – Iseo (Trentino Alto Adige – Lombardy, 155 km)

This stage resembles a lake tour. Starting from the town located on the northernmost point of Lake Garda, Riva del Garda, the Giro d’Italia finally enters Lombardy, from the province of Brescia. Riva del Garda is a romantic and photogenic town, loved by summer tourists and also popular for its musical festivals and competitions, such as the ‘Filocorno d’oro‘.

Riva del Garda, Trentino Alto Adige

Then, the race will reach the small lakes of Ampola and Idro, continuing on the route of the wonderful Trompia Valley. Going southward, the athletes will meet Iseo Lake and the hilly subregion of Franciacorta, one of the Italian wine-growing areas par excellence. Indeed, this land is very famous all over the world for some of the country’s finest wines, especially for the sparkling ones.

Here, the speedsters can take an advantage, thanks to the level road allowing a final sprint in Iseo, the quaint town on the shore of the namesake lake. Iseo, in addition to the ‘Torbiere del Sebino’ natural reserve, is worldwide famous for having inspired and hosted the famed artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Their best legacy is an incredible artwork named ‘The Floating Piers’, a walkable surface on the water of Iseo Lake that in 2016 connected for two weeks the two shores and the little island of Saint Paul, located in the middle of the lake. In a few days, these yellow floating gangways of 3,5 kilometres and enjoyable for free, attracted to the Lake something like 1,2 million visitors.

Floating Piers, Iseo Lake, Lombardy

So that’s how, in Northern Italy, we are coming up to the end. Don’t miss the next article! It will be our last special about the hidden beauties of the 2018 Giro d’Italia.