Richard has finished his stint at the Giro and is on his way home to Canada and so our man in Italy, Alessandro Federico, takes over for the next few days – Roadside. Ale leaves the race course and takes in the church of San Pietro, Tuscania and mozzarella. Ale’s ‘Roadside’ adventure day 1:
The longest stage of the Giro was set to run from Grosseto (Tuscany) to Fiuggi (Lazio). The Giro is heading south and there is much suspense caused by “Berto’s” shoulder condition. Today the stage has passed, but tomorrow the final climb to Campitello Matese (bad weather forecast) could be too much for him. Anyway, my friend Salvo and I have forgotten about the Giro’s thrills and are concentrating on our visit to a part of Italy we didn’t know. This is how the day went:
Tuscania, not Tuscany!
You should plan a visit in Tuscania; there is a clear reason to do it. On top of a hill, just out of the ancient town there is an old church, San Pietro, which is one of the most stunning constructions I have ever seen. It’s a hidden treasure I didn’t know and I will thank the Giro for a while, just because it gave me the opportunity to discover it.
As usual, the first day at the Giro is the most critical and difficult. Waken early, credentials to be collected and tune in with the event. The plan for today was to visit Tuscania and to catch the finish. If you look for Tuscania remember it has nothing to do with Tuscany! It’s located in another administrative region (Lazio) and it’s a town (while Tuscany is a region).
We are not far from Rome, and this explains the gigantic cathedral of San Pietro on the hill. But what I really liked more than anything else was the frescos inside the church. These are very old but they can transmit very modern messages; I was especially excited when I saw a fresco showing the Madonna with baby Jesus. The way she looks at the baby, the way the baby hugs her, it really captures the feelings you would get from any mother and child scene. That kind of love has no limits of religion or time.
And the race comes
The stage is very long and a strong wind was blowing in the face of the peloton from the very beginning of the race. Therefore the pace of the stage was pretty slow. The race was expected to be in Tuscania at 12:30 but it finally came at 13:10. So all the people were waiting for the race before going home for lunch. I asked a woman to help me with the photos and allow me to join her on the balcony. The position was simply perfect to shoot the passage of the race. My friend Salvo was positioned on the other side of the bend, and for a shot of the bunch passing I moved to another place for a more scenic view with San Pietro on the hill behind.
The Way to Fiuggi: the mozzarella affair
So, to the second part of our day. Across Rome, through the very outer ring and on to Fiuggi and the finish. In fact we didn’t want to be at the finish line: too much confusion and too many real journalists, so we preferred to find a good location for the pictures and possibly a bar to enjoy the race on TV. We had more than that!
Just off the highroad from Rome, on the way to Fiuggi, we found a cheese factory advertising the “vera mozzarella di bufala” (the original buffalo mozzarella). This is a boast you can read many times in Italy and most of the time it isn’t true (especially in the north). There are not many buffalo in Italy and most of them are located in centre of the country (Lazio and Campania). But when we entered the shop we understood immediately it was really the original buffalo mozzarella by the prevailing smell!
We ordered two big pieces of bread and half a kilogram of mozzarella, we started to eat and simply forgot about the race. However, because of our high professionalism, at a certain point we moved to the road and tried to do our best with the camera, despite our digestion.
Now about tomorrow
As usual days at the Giro start early and end late at night. The first day was challenging and exciting, but at the same time we have to focus on tomorrow and the first serious mountain finish of the Giro. In the past Campitello Matese has given important results for the general standings and possibly we will see changes tomorrow evening. The stage will be short so we can sleep a bit more in the morning.
The plan is to watch the start and then move to the top of Campitello Matese for the finish. Maybe 2 or 3 kilometers from the finish. The weather forecast is bad; but we’ve faced serious weather condition in the past, so we are ready.
Don’t miss Ale and Salvo’s roadside adventure tomorrow!