Local Cycling Heroes: Gino Bartali and L'Eroica, Italy's Retro Bike Race
We're stepping into autumn at Torre di Sopra, preparing for olive picking, anticipating new wine just round the corner (in time and geography), and, with August's heat behind us, it's the perfect temperature for cycling.
Having recently turned my attention to this increasingly popular sport, it turns out we are nestled in the middle of bike territory. The legendary Italian cyclist Gino Bartali is commemorated in the eponymous, recently opened museum in Ponte a Ema, a ten minute drive from the house.
Meanwhile a little further down the road about forty-five minutes away, Gaiole in Chianti is preparing to host its annual and legendary, retro bicycle race, L'Eroica, on the 1st October.
A period cycle race where participators can only ride vintage bikes (made prior to 1987), dress in Merino wool jerseys, leather shoes, small peak caps, taking on any amount of the 38 to 205 km track mostly made up of crushed gravel "strade bianche", this is truly a race for anyone feeing heroic. Admittedly, the route traverses one of the most beautiful parts of the world, with succulent food and wine by the buffet-full on offer at every stop, but even so. And the best bit about it? You can ride it any time of the year and still get your certificate.
Back at the house we've been enjoying the contemporary version, hiring bikes from Florence, savouring the stunning countryside, tarmac roads and lycra on an only ever so slightly newer bike. Vintage or new, cycling is where it's at.