Did you think Gino Bartali was just a kick-ass bicycle racer from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s? A multiple Tour and Giro winner of the day? Well, did you know that in his free time he saved hundreds of Jews from Nazi concentration camps during the second world war, all using his biking skills? Well, it’s true.
The gentleman-racer Bartali used his fame and biking skills to traffic false identification cards from Florence to Assisi, using his “breakfast stop” at a bar in Terontola as a cover to distract the German SS and to exchange documents with train travelers coming from Assisi. As a courier, Gino would hide the documents in his seat tube and handlebars and transport them to and from Florence where the resistance would produce falsified stamps and documents to keep the Jewish exiles from being repatriated back to their homeland. Great story of a great man. So why am I telling you this?
Well, to commemorate “Il Grande Gino” and his peaceful exploitations, Ivo Faltoni along with the Regions of Umbria, Tuscany, as well as the Provinces of Arezzo and Perugia are holding the annual CICLOPELLEGRINAGGIO TERONTOLA-ASSISI to remember this great man what he did to promote peace in the world. This event also reflects the lives lost on 11 September 2001 in the terrorist attack in New York on this ten-year anniversary and will be a great opportunity to show our solidarity and unity in a fun ride for peace.
In 2010, the event proved to be a great success with the participation of hundreds of cyclists from all over Italy including pros from today and yesteryear. Participating in the event’s media coverage was also Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, Gianni Letta, and Adriana (wife) and Andrea (son) Bartali. I’m sure 2011 will be no less memorable.
Here are some links if you want to join in. I’ll be riding and looking forward to a great trip through the Umbria countryside. I hope you’ll join me to for this great cause. All donations and entry fees will be forwarded to the Gino Bartali Foundation, a group of folks who promote sport for the disabled in the Tuscany Region.
For more information on the event and the registration form, please have a look at Mr. Faltoni’s webpage on the event or contact me for more info. Have a great ride!