Milan (Italy). In these days, Milan seems “the place to be” – and not only for architecture lovers, trendy designers and unmissable hipsters. For sure, like every year around this period, the city attracts an incredible amount of people coming here to discover the latest tendencies in the sectors of furniture, lighting, decoration and home appliances.
I cannot miss the opportunity of keeping my eye (and my camera) on this interesting world of course, and I like to share what I’m seeing here in my photoblog (isn’t it its purposes?). What’s really impressive, for those people living here all the year, is assisting to a true and deep change in the city’s spirit: let me try to better express myself. Although I consider Milan as probably the most living, enjoyable, innovative and “sparkling” city in Italy (for sure, one of the best life quality), during the so called “design week” the “routine” goes through an authentic transformation, which means pulling out a completely new soul made not only of parties, events, vernissage, opening ceremonies and installations (these things are pretty normal – let me say) but made of a sense of general “discovery”. Yes, during the Fuorisalone’s week, Milan’s people (re)discover their city made of hidden courtyards, beautiful buildings (some of them exceptionally open to public), street decorations and so on. In other words, it looks like a sort of “inspirational wave” floods the city’s districts (not only the fashionable Brera or 5 Vie, but also Lambrate, Tortona etc.) to demonstrate that the urban environment can react to the daily routine, and transform the ordinary into something of extraordinary.
Of course there are critics: why it can’t be all the year? Why the next week – once the design events will be over – Milan will return to hide its beauty? I’m not in a position to answer; but as long as I see that this creative magma is still boiling under the city’s asphalt, the enthusiasm’s eruption of the design week is very, very welcome!
Let me stick on this photo, because behind it there’s an epic venture! I took it yesterday night during a walk under the rain. The bicycles shop “Rossignoli” in Corso Garibaldi was open to public, and – as every year – it exposes some legendary bikes such as the one photographed here and used by Gino Bartali during the Tour de France in 1948. That edition of the “Grande Boucle” was truly memorable! To make a long story short (but many books have been written on it) the 1948 edition was the first Tour de France for Bartali since his victory ten years before in 1938, and it came after a disappointing result at the Giro d’Italia: for this reason, he started the race not as favorite. However, he won the first stage leading the race and taking a low profile together with the whole Italian team. After the ninth stage, the lead was taken by Louison Bobet, with more than nine minutes on the second place. But it was a very short domination, since in the tenth stage Bobet lost time and Belgian cyclist Roger Lambrecht reduced the margin to 29 seconds.
Bringing the focus back on Gino Bartali, after the twelfth stage, his distance from the leader of the race was 21 minutes and 28 seconds! Just try to imagine what it can mean, and how was the feeling of the Tuscan cyclist: it’s not surprising that – considering his position – Bartali was sure that his race was compromised and thought about quitting the tour. But that night – here’s when sport becomes history – Bartali received a phone call: I like imagining the scene; he was in bed, tormented by his thoughts on the race, but on the other side of the line there’s was Alcide De Gasperi, Prime Minister of Italy. De Gasperi told him that a few days earlier Palmiro Togliatti, leader of the Italian Communist Party, had been shot by a terrorist: this episode caused popular turmoils and Italy was on the edge of a civil war. For this reason, De Gasperi asked Bartali to do his best to win a stage, because the sport news might distract people from the politics. Bartali replied that he would do better.
The next day, Bartali won the stage (number 13) with a large margin, jumping at the second position in the general classification and trailing by only 66 seconds. The days after (stages 14 and 15) he won again, and took over the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification. Bobet was now in second place with several minutes behind. In the sixteenth stage his direct competitors lost time, so he increased his lead to 32 minutes! From that moment, his lead was never endangered, the Italian excitement about the Tour de France increased, and the political tensions quieted.
So, photographing the bicycle of this epic venture was worth the walk under the rain… wasn’t it?