This is the first account of Giro d''Italia p ublished in English which includes maps and illustrations of the legendary 1949 Tour of Italy. '
Buzatti offers cycling fans a refreshing perspective on one of the world's best-loved races - and he dazzles non-enthusiasts with his flamboyant descriptions of everything in and around the world of professional cycling. Often the author's extravagant imagination gets the better of him. When the Giro goes up Mt Etna, Buzatti gives the narrative over to the volcano itself, which speaks of its pride in having the country's best riders struggling up its slopes; later on, the spirits of dead soldiers evoke their ghoulish suffering as the Giro's cavalcade motors past their unmarked graveyard.
But Buzatti does not ignore the action. He beautifully communicates the frenzied support of the tifosi (Italian fans), seeking to rebuild a sense of national pride; and he carefully crafts portraits of the ageing hero Bartali and his new upstart rival, the young Fausto Coppi. This is a classic race, recounted with verve and invention by an exceptional writing talent.
Each chapter is a bon bon that I savoured until it was over. Written by Buzzati, an award winning Italian journalist who was covering his first bike race, the book contains revelations and explanations that those who are unfamiliar with cycling will appreciate. For those who have descended twisting roads, at screaming speeds, from within the peloton, there are great tid bits. The dreams of the grisanti (the domestique) one day raising his arms in victory -- NOT! The crazy old one, leaving six hours before the riders start and finishing after dark, determined to conquer the entire course. Age defying time. The home town rider, "in crisis just two days before" who wins the stage in front of his teachers, his family, and the president of his local cycling club who once presented him with his first bike. Read this book! You'll either jump on your bike in fantasy or save for that next flight to Genoa. I am grateful it has finally been translated into English.