Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

The story of Vittorio Zanoboni, 75 years old from Tavarnuzze, ex-restaurateur by profession and cyclist by passion, begins with an anecdote.

“In 1997, a dear friend, Giancarlo, after organizing a bicycle race, the “Gino Bartali’, launched an idea: whoever participated in the race would have to follow the 180 km trail on a vintage bicycle along gravel roads. The Eroica was born!”.

From that moment, Vittorio has participated in the Eroica every year, Including the last one, two weeks ago: “Even though back then there were only 92 participants”, says Vittorio, “I remember saying to my friend that in a couple of years, 1.000 of us would be participating. 10 years afterwards there were 1.005 beginning the course”.

L’Eroica isn’t a race, but a cycling tourist event, unusual because it uses vintage bicycles and runs through picturesque paths that vary in length: 38, 75, 135, and 209 kilometers.

“I have always participated in the 135 km trail, Because it is without a doubt the most beautiful. I partake in other races,” explains Vittorio, “like the Intrepida and the Anghiari, and many ask me why the Eroica doesn’t take hold in their areas: simple… their itineraries don’t have the beauty of Chianti”.

Vittorio has always had a passion for the bicycle, as he tells us: “I raced as a student on the Porta Romana team and then stopped. I started again at the age of 37 and have not stopped since”.

This passion has brought him far far away. “I have toured all of Europe by bicycle: Spain, France, Germany, Greece, Croatia.”

And he has met many people, like Father Battista Mondin: “Together, we made many pilgrimages on the old continent. He spoke seven languages, so in the morning we rode around by bicycle, and in the afternoon we played tourist around the cities”, he explains, remembering his numerous voyages.

From Lourdes to Paris, Alsace and Lorraine, all of the Pyrenees, northern Spain from Lion to San Sebastiano, the Asturie, from Munich to Berlin, Cologne, Westfalia and along the Rhine.

These are only some of Vittorio’s experiences of cycling and life: “The only TV program I watch is Marco Polo. And when I see a place, I find myself saying,  I have been here, there too, here as well!”. He tells us laughing.

Next up? “California: the Eroica is run in many countries, among them United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Japan and many others. I plan on going to California next year to follow new paths. Who knows how it will go…” he concludes smiling with dreamy eyes.

Costanza Masini