On the roads of Italy’s region Emilia-Romagna we have been chasing the spirit of the late cycling hero Marco ‘Il Pirata’ Pantani. These were the roads he loved and when you ride them you will discover why. The roads of Emilia-Romagna twist through a countryside filled with vineyards and ancient villages and towns. They inspire to ride.
Ten years ago Pantani died at the age of 34, but when you ride his former training routes he still feels very much alive. Had Pantani still been living today, we might have forgotten about him. Now that he’s dead many of his fans make sure we will never forget him. Il Pirata is remembered with roadpaintings and roadside monuments. And when you ride his former training routes you might, sometimes, feel him riding with you.
Text and photos Mark Koghee
On the left Primoz from Slovenia. On the right Andrea, our friend and guide who invited us.
I think Andrea has the best job in the world. He promotes Emilia-Romagna by riding his bike with people. And how hard can that promoting be, this countryside promotes itself.
Spazio Pantani in the old railway station of Cesenatico is the museum about late cyclist Marco Pantani. When you visit it you will understand why Pantani lived in a big villa. He needed space for all his cycling stuff…
Pantani’s bike of his dreamseason 1998 when he won the Giro and Tour de France. I don’t know what the carbon brake levers are doing there. They weren’t around yet in 1998.
Pantani the artist. We will never know what Marco Pantani was thinking but his paintings give witness of a mind that was occupied with more than cycling. You wont find any bikes or cyclists on Pantani’s paintings. .
Bandanna or Bandana: ban·dan·na noun \ban-ˈda-nə\ : a square piece of cloth that is used as a head covering or worn around the neck (Merriam-Webster) The bandana became a trademark of Pantani.
In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants, only plants that are usable as lumber or only plants above a specified height. At its broadest, trees include the taller palms, the tree ferns, bananas and bamboo. (Wikipedia)
Via Guiseppe Garibaldi in Roncofreddo is just one of many beautiful points in the region.
This is the Strada Provinciale 79 between Santa Maria Riopetra and Montegelli. If roads were music than this one would certainly be disco!
The SP79 just before Bivio Montegelli. Still disco dancing….
The Montevecchio was Pantani’s favorite climb. Mamma Tonina Pantani: ,,He loved the scenery there so much. In summertime he would sometimes step of the bike to pick some figs.”
A rock at the top of Montevecchio now carries the picture of Marco Pantani. Not visible are two tiny weathered Teddy bears under the rock.
Giovanni Pascoli was Italy’s most important poet at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. Emilia Romagna was his home.
Andrea fills his bidon in one of many roadside fountains. In 95 kilometres of riding I tapped 1,5 liters of free Emilia Romagna water.
In Italy you never ride alone.If you do want to ride alone, just ride really really fast.
The village of Maciano at the foot of the Carpegna mountain pass has around 550 inhabitants.
This kind lady, who lives on the first slopes of the Carpegna, gave us shelter when the rain came pooring down.
,,Is it dangerous”, we asked the man. ,,I think so”, he said. ,,Can we go through”, we asked. ,,I don’t know”, he answered. ,,Howcome you dont know?” ,,I came here to watch not to stand guard.”
Il Carpegna mi basta!! The Carpegna is enough for me, said Pantani everytime he rode up the climb. I couldn’t agree more.
Halfway the climb of the Cippo di Carpegna you can find this Pantani monument. Now everybody can pass Marco Pantani in a climb.
Marco Pantani loved the Emilia-Romagna countryside. That is not really surprising if you would see it yourself.
Every day cyclists have their picture taken next to this monument for Pantani on top of the Cippo di Carpegna.
I don’t know much about meteorology but this looks like a nimbostratus cloud. It produced a lot of rain.
After riding your bike you don’t sleep any better in a round bed, but it’s sure more fun. Bikehotel Lungomare in Cesenatico might very well be the only bikehotel in the world with a round bed. The Grand Hotel Terme Della Fratta is just as fancy as it looks. But no problem to walk around in lycra, it’s a bike hotel too. A last farewell. ‘Always with you Marco’