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Pedalare! Pedalare! A History of Italian Cycling [Paperback]

John Foot
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

3 May 2011

Cycling was a sport so important in Italy that it marked a generation, sparked fears of civil war, changed the way Italian was spoken, led to legal reform and even prompted the Pope himself to praise a cyclist, by name, from his balcony in St Peter's in Rome. It was a sport so popular that it created the geography of Italy in the minds of her citizens, and some have said that it was cycling, not political change, that united Italy.

Pedalare! Pedalare! is the first complete history of Italian cycling to be published in English. The book moves chronologically from the first Giro d'Italia (Italy's equivalent of the Tour de France) in 1909 to the present day. The tragedies and triumphs of great riders such as Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali appear alongside stories of the support riders, snow-bound mountains and the first and only woman to ride the whole Giro.

Cycling's relationship with Italian history, politics and culture is always up front, with reference to fascism, the cold war and the effect of two world wars. The sport is explored alongside changes in Italian society as a whole, from the poor peasants who took up cycling in the early, pioneering period, to the slick, professional sport of today. Scandals and controversy appear throughout the book as constant features of the connection between fans, journalists and cycling.

Concluding with an examination of doping, which has helped to destroy what was at one time the most popular sport of all, Pedalare, Pedalare is an engrossing history of a national passion.

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Pedalare! Pedalare! A History of Italian Cycling + Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi (Yellow Jersey Cycling Classics) + The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (3 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747595216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747595212
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 15.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 331,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


If you read only one sporting book this year, make it Pedalare! Pedalare! ... Absorbing, compelling and brilliant (Evening Standard)

Sparkling ... alive with terrific characters ... The key to [Foot's] success lies with the larger-than-life characters who people these pages (Spectator)

The first general account in English of the second biking culture ... As this year's Giro d'Italia hopefuls head out over a dramatic parcours, the ghosts Foot evokes will stir once more (Independent on Sunday)

An expert on sport, but more importantly on Italian culture, history and society, [John Foot] has now turned his eye to cycling ... If you want to understand Italian cycling, read this book ... Fascinating (Cycle Sport)

Book Description

The story of Italian cycling is the story of Italy in the twentieth century.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last! 25 May 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
John Foot is the son of famous British campaigning journalist, the late (alas) Paul Foot; however he is not himself a journalist but an academic, specialising in recent Italian history and culture.
He has previously brought his skills to bear upon the history of Italian football and football fandom (including the 'ultras') and of the Italians' continuing relationship with the so called 'beautiful game', in the well received 'Calcio'. In 'Pedalare! Pedalare' (Ride! Ride! - as screamed by many an Italian (and other) DS to their team members), John Foot applies his expertise to the historic and current relationship of the Italian public to the sport of cycling - with, understandably, an emphasis on the great Italian stage race, the Giro d'Italia.
As a moderately knowledgeable fan of professional cycling I found this book a fascinating read, since until very recently, astonishingly, there had been exactly ZERO books published in English on the history either of the Giro, or of Italian cycling in general. (There are books on individual riders, Franco Balmamion and Fausto Coppi to mention but two; but of general books there were none until the start of 2011.) Here an expert tells the tale of how Italy first fell in love with the bicycle, then as both the times, and more importantly perhaps the economy, changed, almost fell out of love with it again ... only to find a new enthusiasm for bike racing during the 1980s and 1990s as Italians had Giro success once again. But by then cycling was a different sport, competing for television time with short-attention-span-friendly rivals like football, and with its participants sometimes driven to desperate measures to retain their prestige, and with it their sponsors' lire and later euros.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceeds expectations. 24 July 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The sub title "A history of Italian Cycling" is a bit of a misnomer as the author has skilfully woven in the cultural and historical details that supported the dynamism of Italian cycling for well over a century.

I found it hard to put down, the characters I knew of as being cycling names long before I turned a pedal came to life again. I was left feeling that I had become very much closer to the passions of the tiffosi that line the routes of the Giro'd'Italia and other classic cycle races than I thought possible.

This is a book very different to most other books covering cycling, to partially quote an advertising phrase, it reaches the parts others do not. Reading it was a very fullfilling experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent page-turner... 15 July 2012
By Kieren
This is an excellent book in which John Foot tells the compelling story of Italian cycling, intertwined with discussion of Italian culture and politics.

The book is at its best when telling interesting and engaging anecdotes about the legendary cyclists and trainers. The author makes the cycling careers of Ganna, Coppi, Girardengo and Bartali much more personal when recounting their training plans, physical injuries and relationships with women, friends and rivals. We also hear of lesser known riders and the lengths they went to in order to endure a stage of the Tour de France or Giro D'Italia, whether it be hitching lifts on trains, sneaking in barns to warm up or enjoying free meals from keen locals. Alongside these well-researched and intimate anecdotes is discussion of important events such as the significance of ending a Giro D'Italia stage in post-war Trieste, and Bartali winning in the Tour de France at a time of strikes and unrest back home in Italy. The combination of light-natured and more serious is well-balanced by the writer.

Another positive is the readability of the book, helped by its structure and organisation. The book starts with the origins of cycling in a poor, young Italy and ends with cycling in a modernised, urban Italy. The great cyclists get a chapter each, something which makes the often intertwined lives of the great men easy to follow and understand.

Perhaps the only negative is that sometimes the book makes over-generalised statements about the importance of cycling in Italy, without any real qualification. Given the excellent research the author has evidently undertaken, it would have been helpful to support these statements with a reference.

Overall this is an excellent book, sure to be an engaging read for cycling enthusiasts, lovers of sport or those looking for an alternative take on Italian history, culture and politics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars COMPULSORY READING 19 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is should be compulsory reading for all cycle racing fans. The book highlights the golden era of Coppi and Bartali from the late Thirties to the middle Fifties as well as covering Italian cycle racing, particularly the Giro, before and after. What makes this book different is that the author relates the racing to the politics of the time - the war and the immediate aftermath when divided loyalties had lasting effect. The role of the Catholic church and the political parties in this mix is explored.

The author blames the growing use of motor cars and scooters, television and doping scandals, which combined to remove the close links to the sport from a population that used the bicycle as the main form of transport, for the demise of cycle racing as Italy's number one sport. Sadly, the author sees no return to those days. I am old enough to have lived through the Coppi and Bartali era when their racing epics were well recorded in the continental cycling magazines we were then able to buy even in small Lincolnshire towns. My big regret is that I had a ticket for the Coppi track appearance at Herne Hill but chose instead to support a clubmate in a local 25.

The author occasionally slips up on the technicalities of cycle racing but this is a only a minor quibble for a well researched and written book.

Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo! Bravo!
An exceptional book. One of the best books on cycling and Italian culture and, crucially, the fusion between the two, that I have ever read. Read more
Published 10 days ago by D. G. Findlay
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read . . . . .
Having entered the Gran Fondo Stelvio for 2014, I bought this book for some perspective of Italian cycling. Read more
Published 6 months ago by G. N. M. Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars Most interesting
An excellent book providing good insight into the history of the Giro and Italy generally. Good use of anecdotal information about the cyclists which added interest and brought... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mrs Janet M Beardmore
5.0 out of 5 stars Cycling, Italy, History - Bellisimo!
Blimey, some of the reviews on here are almost as long as the book!

I'll keep mine short. I too was bought this book as a birthday present, and I loved it. Read more
Published 23 months ago by rhnb
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Dissapointing
I was given this book as birthday present and it was a great disappointment. It is extremely badly written, showing a deal of ignorance and ill thought out analysis of cycling. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Mr. S. Scott
2.0 out of 5 stars Needs Some Strong Editing
Tend to agree with T Isitt. The author is rather verbose and his style repetitive and at times illiterate: "embued" presumably should be imbued. Read more
Published 23 months ago by ephgrave7
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Frustrating
I wanted a book to give me a bit of history and background to Italian cycling, but this book isn't it. Far too much politics, far too little cycling. Read more
Published 23 months ago by T. Isitt
5.0 out of 5 stars a history of the Giro
Very enjoyable, especially if read whilst the Giro in on
A great history of cycling and it's relationship with the history of 20h century Italy
Published on 13 Jun 2012 by Neil
3.0 out of 5 stars Italian cycling for the academic
The author was found in 2007 at Renzo Zanazzi's bar in Milan, and the church of the Madonna del Ghisallo, the shrine of cyclists, near Como, from where he rode off chronologically... Read more
Published on 31 Aug 2011 by mangilli-climpson m
5.0 out of 5 stars Pedalare, Pedalare: A History of Italian Cycling by John Foot
On any weekend from early Spring to late autumn, the busy strade statali leading out of any north Italian town are busy with groups of amateur cyclists - men mainly - heading up... Read more
Published on 11 Aug 2011 by Mark Duff
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