Photo by Rotofoto from Il Giro Racconta, published by RCS Libri S.p.A., 1998
Dino Buzzati was an Italian novelist, short story writer, playwright, and journalist. In 1949 he was assigned by the newspaper Corriere della Sera to cover the Giro. Buzzati was not a sports writer and although he loved cycling, he had never seen a bicycle road race in his life! It was probably because of this that he was able to experience and write about the Giro in a a unique, original, and touching way, capturing not only its drama and epic majesty, but its humanity, poetry, magic, and romance. The following passage is one of my favorites.
(The translation is mine).
Non Tramonterà Mai la Fiaba della Bicicletta
E il prossimo anno, sarà data di nuovo la partenza e l'anno dopo ancora, di primavera in primavera...Finchè (ma vivremo ancora noi?) le persone ragionevoli diranno che è assurdo continuare; a quei tempi le biciclette saranno diventate rare, ferravecchi quasi comici, usati da pochi nostalgici maniaci, e voci si leveranno dando la baia al Giro.
No, non mollare, bicicletta. A costo di apparir ridicola, salpa ancora, in un fresco mattino di maggio, via per le antiche strade dell'Italia. Noi viaggeremo per lo più in treno-razzo, allora, la forza atomica ci risparmierà le minime fatiche, saremo potentissimi e civili. Tu non badarci, bicicletta. Vola, tu, con le tue piccole energie, per monti e valli, suda, fatica e soffri. Dalla sperduta baita scenderà ancora il taglialegna a gridarti eviva, i pescatori saliranno dalla spiaggia, i contabili abbandoneranno i libri mastri, il fabbro lascerà spegnere il fuoco per venire a farti festa, i poeti, i sognatori, le creature umili e buone ancora si assieperanno ai bordi delle strade, dimenticando per merito tuo miserie e stenti.
E le ragazze ti copriran di fiori.
The Fable of the Bicycle Will Never Fade Away
And next year, the start will once again take place, and yet again the year after, from spring to spring...Until (but will we still be living?) reasonable people will say that it's absurd to continue; in those times bicycles will have become rare, almost comical junk, used by a few nostalgic maniacs, and voices will be raised, saying that it's time to put the Giro to rest.
No, don't give up, bicycle. At a cost of appearing ridiculous, set sail once again on a fresh May morning, off along the ancient byways of Italy. We will travel for the most part by rocket train then; atomic energy will save us even a minimum effort; we will be very powerful and civilized. Pay us no mind, bicycle. Fly, with your little energies, among mountains and valleys, sweat, toil, and suffer. The woodcutter will still descend from his isolated mountain hut to cry "Evviva!," fishermen will come up from the beach, clerks will abandon their ledgers, the blacksmith will let his flame die out to come to celebrate you, the poets, the dreamers, the creatures humble and good will still line the roadsides, forgetting, to your merit, their troubles and hardships.
And maidens will cover you with flowers.
Dino Buzzati, Corriere della Sera, June 14, 1949
Note: Buzzati's 1949 Giro articles were collected and published as Dino Buzzati al Giro d'Italia by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A., ISBN 88-04-42714-0.
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