It’s early May and the cycling world has gone pink. The Giro D’Italia starts today. Not only that, it’s the one hundredth running of the race, hence the retro photo tribute to the golden age of Italian cycling.
One hundred trips across Italy adds up to a lot of country criss-crossed. There are few corners of the peninsula which have not been visited by the race at some time, even if some are visited more often than others. For us, watching the TV coverage, getting to see the beautiful Italian scenery is one of the pleasures of the race experience. Sometimes (most often during the mountain stages) we will see a place where we have been. Often it will be somewhere we have never been but the idea is stored to visit it one day.
Historically, the south of the country has seen less of the race than the north. That is even more so for the island provinces. This year, though, the race will visit both Sardinia and Sicily during its first week.
It is no secret that we love Sicily. We have also, though, been lucky enough to cycle in Sardinia in the past. It too is a beautiful place, with quiet and wonderfully surfaced roads. It is well worth a trip. We will be glued to the TV over the next few days to look at it all again.
One of the big highlights of the race for us this year will be on stage 4, on 9th May. The race will be in Sicily and has a mountain finish at Rifugio Sapienza on Mount Etna. Many years ago, before we met, Helen worked for several summers on Mount Etna doing survey work for a party of vulcanologists. For most of the time her accommodation was in the very same Rifugio Sapienza. We visited there together during a trip for our tenth wedding anniversary and ended up watching Giro coverage on TV while waiting for a bus. If only we were there in person next week – but being hostel owners means that holidays in May are not feasible.
On the other hand, most people don’t have a chance to watch the Giro live during the afternoons. So maybe we are the lucky ones after all. We will certainly be busy for the next three weeks watching the beauty of Italy roll by and wishing the Giro a very happy hundredth birthday.