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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Come una volta (as it once was)


CycleItalia began, as many things do, as a “better mousetrap” idea. We enjoyed the better part of a decade working with one of the first operations to offer challenging tours in Europe for cycling enthusiasts. When they took their first group to Italy in 1989, Heather and Larry were there – in fact that’s how we met.
On the free evenings for dinner back then, we were often joined by a small group of clients who appreciated our skill at finding the best places for authentic food and our passion for the full Italian meal experience; antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno and dolci, all complemented with the products of the local vineyard.
It was during these relaxing dinner experiences that the seeds for CycleItalia were sown. Clients would ask, “Why don’t you start your own company so we can dine like this every night?” In 1998 we decided to finally make that leap of faith and CycleItalia was born with the slogan “pedala forte, mangia bene” (ride hard, eat well):  a new concept in cycle touring.
Recently we discovered that Cycle Italia is even older than we thought! Despite our beginning in 1998 it seems there was a Ciclo Italia (We modified their logo as you can see at the top of the page) back in the 1920’s, a brand created by the famous Italian bicycle company Umberto Dei. It is in that historic spirit of “cycling like it used to be” that we continue into the 21st century.
CycleItalia was inspired by the culture of Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali, when “steel was real” and Campagnolo was on its way to being king. The big bike races were followed not only by those at the roadside but also the daily newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, and later by radio broadcast. With no video and few photos, the journalists and broadcasters of the day had to be creative and eloquent to capture the imaginations of their readers or listeners; they transformed the sport’s heroes and villains into mythic characters of epic proportions
We’ve never lost this romantic notion of cycling, though we’re long past our own racing days. Now our desire is to recreate that “come una volta” atmosphere in which cycling and friendship were shared along with  hearty meals in the countryside along the way. Italy is still the best place in the world for this, as demonstrated by the explosion of vintage bicycle (bici di epoca) rallies, such as Tuscany’s Eroica, where the food and wine and the sense of history are as important as the ride.
As the modern world of cycling moves toward electronically controlled machines of ever-more exotic materials, and fuel for cycling devolves into chemical goo squeezed from mylar packets, we look back to the era when cycling was less scientific, but more fun.  Our tours are far from easy, but they embrace a spirit of enjoyment derived not from who can ride the fastest or who has the fanciest bike, but simply from the timeless joy of cycling in Italy “like it used to be.” .
We’ve been cyclists for most of our lives, racing, riding and wrenching on bicycles for more than four decades. We’re old enough to remember this spirit but still enthusiastic enough to want to enjoy and share it with you on every CycleItalia vacation.
Join us and enjoy ciclismo come una volta (cycling like it used to be) in the best place in the world to be a cyclist, ITALIA.


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