Giro d’Italia

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Flag of Trieste. I stood on the base of the flagpole by the soldiers to view the end of the race.

I should start by noting that the police finally came by to verify my residence, in the person of a tall, thin gentleman who looked about to either retire or fossilize. I wasn’t sure which. He came by on Saturday morning and I was still half asleep. I tossed on some jeans and my bathrobe and let him in. He asked a couple of questions and I answered as best I could in Italian, because he had very little English. Sadly, being half asleep meant I was groping even for words that I knew, but all went well and he filled out his form and was on his way.

Triestino bicyclists

Triestino bicyclists

This morning, the coastal road and the Riva were shut down for the end stage of the Giro d’Italia, an international bicycle race that originated in 1909 and which has been mostly annual throughout its history, with breaks during the two world wars. According to a book I got handed about the race, in 1946, it was ridden through bombed out villages, rivers were forded by carrying bicycles across them, and the riders came into Trieste under gunfire by an anti-Italian group trying to block them from entering the city.

Fans of the Columbian team

Fans of the Columbian team

This year’s Giro started in Belfast, Ireland, then everyone flew to Italy for the remainder of the race. It’s been making its way around the country for about the last three weeks.

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Bersaglieri bicyclists in their dress uniform hats

Before the race’s riders arrived in the city, a team of Bersaglieri rolled in on bicycles. They’re a type of Italian light infantry unit. The guys on bicycles were older, and looked mostly like vets, though there was also a small brass band, obviously active duty, who played as well, while at a jog. They are apparently quite famous for this as their performance style. I wasn’t able to get a photo of them, sadly, as I was in the wrong place and they literally went by too fast for me to get a shot.

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The Frecce Tricolori over Piazza Unità d’Italia

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Passing over the Piazza again at the end of their show

There was a substantial crowd in town for the race, and by the time the riders were making the last loops through Trieste toward the finish line, Piazza Unità was packed. As the riders were coming into the city and along the Riva, the Italian military aerobatics team, the Frecce Tricolori, based in Udine, flew in for a show.

The crowd grows thicker and more excited as the race draws near its end

More Piazza Unità crowds

The Giro takes place in 21 different stages. The last leg is 172km, from Gemona to Trieste, led by the Columbian cyclist Nairo Quintana. I actually found myself a good vantage point for the end of the race, at the base of one of the big flagpoles at the seaside end of Piazza Unità. I was able to see a tiny bit of the actual race route through the stands, and the cyclists coming into the piazza right beneath where I was standing, so overall it was a good choice.

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Columbian Nairo Quintana, 2014 winner of the Giro d’Italia, entering Piazza Unità

The day started out gorgeously sunny and warm, and the weather held until the first half-dozen cyclists rolled into the piazza toward the stage, where the trophy would be awarded. The clouds burst, then the crowd parted. I was smart enough to actually bring an umbrella, even if it was a thoroughly crappy one. It kept me dry enough to get over to Ginger for a post-race pot of tea, then home again.

Flags over Trieste

Flags over Trieste

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14 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia

    • Yeah, I kind of figured so as well. 😉 I mean, not like it was a plot or anything, but I haven’t been sleeping well lately. One night this week I was up until 7am the next morning. Ugh. Insomnigrackles. We hates them we does my precioussss.

      • I’ve having the same problem! Can’t tell if it is spring or too much coffee! I also took a trip to America, and it may just be extended jet lag.

  1. If I know anything about Italy, it’s only from novels I’ve read or movies I’ve seen, but this thin, aged visitor verifying your existence sounds totally Italian to me!

  2. Modena always makes such a fuss about being the home of the Frecce Tricolori I just assumed they were based there. I’ve never seen them, but they always look so zippy and thrilling in pictures. I also didn’t realize the Giro was on. I guess I’ll be seeing them soon around where I live.

      • Now that I think about it, what Modena makes a fuss about is being the home of the Italian tri-color flag. They might even have a museum of the flag there. I was mixing it up because one of the most internationally famous Freccia Tricolori events was the flyby they did over Modena when Luciano Pavarotti died. (He was born in Modena and they had his funeral there.) I’ve seen the video of the funeral, and I always associate the Freccia Tricolori with that. So I’m glad to now know where they really are, in Udine (another great town to visit).

  3. Seems the eiville insomnigrackles accidentally worked in your favor, eh? Glad you got that out of the way, finally. Such an awesome spectacle, and you caught some cool shots and I love all the info you shared with them! Thank you for sharing and WOOHOO! \o/

    • It’s always my pleasure to share some of the things I learn. I’m curious about the stuff I see, so I figure folks who are reading the blog might be as well.

  4. My first two years in France I couldn’t function in French if surprised in the morning, and I’m normally fairly perky in the morning. My brain just needed a lot more mental preparation to get into French mode. It’s a little bit better now, but my French is still not always up rapid switching. I really hate it when someone drops by unannounced when I’m in the middle of some translation work. “You already have two active languages loaded. To load another, please upgrade or deactivate one language.”

    • I’m glad it wasn’t just me! Right now, unless I have time to think about a thing, and I already know some of the words, it’s hard for me to function. Anything slightly out of my range requires even more time and looking things up in a dictionary. And that’s when I’m awake. Half asleep? I have no hope.

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