• The Great War

Cyclist heroes during the Great War

“The Bike and The Great War” itinerant exhibition stands in Genova until the 29th of May. Stories about champions and heroes on a bike will join the ‘Giro d’Italia’, to celebrate the war Centenary

Pamela Pucci

Cyclist heroes during the Great War

Using bikes to escape from bombings or even to bring orders to battalions. Indeed, also the bicycle came inside the conflict between 1915 and 1918.

After hundred years, today is going to take place the “La Bicicletta e la Grande Guerra” (The Bike and The Great War) exhibition. The author is Fernanda Pessolano, together with the ‘Ti con Zero’ association and the “Lucos Cozza” bicycle Library. The exposition brings all visitors among the evidences of the war period: bikes for Bersaglieri Army, glasses, mails and military insignias, books, curiosities and little paper theaters telling the places and the Italian people life on a bike during the Great War.

Fernanda Pessolano says: “Through playful and poetic outfitting, the exhibition has been organized as a spelling-book. Sixty sheets tell about heroes of cycling, races, objects and moments of everyday lifestyle. To show the war declaration, for example, I have created a miniature kiosk in which all European  newspapers  are reproduced”.


There is the cycling of pioneers and there are common cyclists, soldiers and civilians, living the history of this period between sport and war, hope and sacrifice. At that time, many competitions were eliminated, others are continuing to exist such as the ‘Giro di Lombardia’ and ‘Milano-Sanremo’, the ‘Tour de France’ and ‘Giro d’Italia’.

Then there are the heroic stories: like Enrico Toti, deprived of one leg he continued to go by bike reaching Finland and then Africa, or Carlo Oriani, who won the ‘Giro d’Italia’ in 1913 and four years later took part at the Caporetto’s retreat. He saved a fellow soldier along the Piave river and then he died because of a pneumonia.

The exhibition is itinerant and until the 29th of May it’s located at the ‘Biblioteca Gallino’ in Genova Sampierdarena, and then move through other cities. It is part of the “Libri in Giro” (Books on Tour) project: this year starts the second edition of the national manifestation to promote the bicycle literature and culture, which involves the ‘Giro d’Italia’.

Therefore, this year the ‘Giro d’Italia’ is full of today’s champions but it is also animated by the names of the ancient cyclists-heroes. The names of the 210 Bersaglieri soldiers who died during the war will be ‘brought’ by 21 ‘cyclists-mailmen’ during the race. Time after time, emotions of the professional great challenges will be mixed with the memory of their adventures.

The region of Veneto, memory place of the Great War, will host all participants for four day, from Thursday 21st of May to Sunday 24th, which is the date of the beginning of the war in Italy and the celebration of the Centenary.

That day, the stage will start in Marostica to arrive in Madonna di Campiglio after 165 kilometers. There, the ‘Giro’ becomes harder and it will be the test for the last terrible week, with the stage of the Aprica and the climb of Mortirolo, Alpe Segletta, Cervinia and Colle delle Finestre, with his wonderful dirt path just before the goal of Sestrière.

Living great emotions, between past and present.