Where do all the tree branches that have either been broken off by the terrific tornado of last March, or been pruned subsequently as a precaution against further collapse, finish up? For Bagni di Lucca the answer is the camper park opposite the stadium located between Fornoli and Ponte a Serraglio. And what will they do with all this debris?
I passed this park yesterday on a recently re-asphalted and unbelievably smooth road, complete with new gleaming white markings, and received the answer to my question. A crane was lifting the branches into a hopper which then through a chute was ejected a hail of wood chippings. Undoubtedly, these will be used either for paper mills or for sale as winter fuel.
I’m glad that recycling the incredible amount of fallen tree debris is taking place so soon before the wood becomes too rotten to do anything with it.
I’m also glad that the classic Giro d’Italia cycle race has prompted the province of Lucca to give Bagni di Lucca 267,000 euros for road surface improvement. Not only will the world’s greatest cyclists avoid worrying about their tyre rims and their own backs but we too will be able to enjoy a ride on scooter or car without having to keep one eye on the look-out for pot holes.
The Giro d’Italia was first run in 1909 and, apart from interruptions during wartime, has been going strong ever since. It’s sponsored by the “Gazzetta dello Sport”, that pink newspaper you see people reading at every bar. (No it’s not an Italian equivalent of the FT.!) And that’s why a pink jersey is given to rider with the best cumulative time (“overall leader”). Other jersey colours are as follows:
The red jersey is given to the cyclist who gets the most points in intermediate sprints and arrivals (“leader of points classification”).
The blue jersey is for the cyclist who gains most points and bonuses for going across passes (“mountain leader”).
The white jersey goes to the cyclist who is under twenty-five years of age on 1 January of the current year with the best cumulative time (”youth leader”).
The high peaks (literally) of this classic race are, naturally, the stages which go across mountain ranges. Our area may not have quite the immense challenge of alpine roads, where single stages often have to climb over three thousand feet, but it certainly has its tests. In past years cyclist have had to climb over the Passo delle Forbici near San Pellegrino, the highest Apennine village at 5003 feet. This year there will be a gentle climb through Barga before a descent via Ghivizzano to Bagni di Lucca. From thence, the cyclists will compete to reach Abetone at a height of 4553 feet.
Despite the inroads of football, the Giro d’Italia has always retained a major interest in the hearts of Italians, many of whom still remember those golden years when Coppi and Bartali spun it out between themselves.
The tricolour flags now adorning Bagni di Lucca’s high street presage a great day today full of excitement and, hopefully, not too many spills.
Furthermore, our town will be on national and international television and people from Alaska to New Zealand will be able not only to enjoy the race but also to see what beautiful country it goes through – especially the stretch through Bagni di Lucca!
PS This is today’s stage – from La Spezia to Abetone:
(Competitors are expected to pass through Bagni di Lucca anytime between 3.30 and 4.30 PM.)