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How to catch the Giro d’Italia if you’re in Italy this year

This year's Giro d'Italia kicks off on Friday and runs until May 29th. Here's what you should know if you're interested in catching some of the race in person in Italy.

The Giro d'Italia is one of the highlights of Italy's sports calendar.
The Giro d'Italia is one of the highlights of Italy's sports calendar. Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP.

The Giro d’Italia, Italy’s cycling Grand Tour and the sister competition to the French Tour de France and Spain’s Vuelta a España, runs from May 6th to May 29th this year.

With Italy’s Covid restrictions arguably the most relaxed they’ve been since the start of the pandemic, excited fans from all over the world will no doubt be gathering en masse to see as much as they can of the multi-week event.

READ ALSO: A quick guide to understanding the Giro d’Italia

But you don’t need to be a major enthusiast or a cycling expert to be interested in catching a glimpse of the world famous race up close.

Here’s what you should know if you’re considering seeing some of this year’s Giro d’Italia in person.

This year’s route

The 2022 Giro d’Italia route is broken up into 21 stages, starting in Hungary, moving to Sicily, and then heading up the mainland from Palmi in Calabria on the southern tip if Italy’s boot all the way to Verona in the northeast.

The race will kick off in Budapest on May 6th and remain in Hungary for its first three stages, with the contestants then scheduled to travel by plane to Sicily to tackle stage four, which involves a summit finish on Mount Etna.

This is followed by one more day in Sicily before the race moves on to Calabria, up into the southern Appenines, past Naples, into the central Appenines, along the Adriatic coast to the east, through Emilia Romagna’s flatlands, back west towards Genoa, up through San Remo, Cuneo, and Turin, and into the mountainous north.

The final week of the event takes the form of a series of steep Alpine climbs and descents around the north and northeast, meandering around the dolomites and even taking in some of Slovenia.

How to watch a stage in person

For those thinking they might like to try and catch a stage of the race in person: you can, and the good news is that it’s free. You just need to get up early and make your way to the track in good time.

While the road will be closed to cars well before the start of the race, anyone can make their way on foot, and bikes are generally allowed on the same stretch of road as the riders until a couple of hours before the race begins.

Because of this, spectators who are also keen cyclists often like to ride the same stretch as the pros several hours before they pass by, which allows them to scout out the road and get a sense of the best vantage points, as well as providing them with the satisfaction of knowing they’ve tackled the same route as a world class athlete.

One of most frequently imparted pieces of advice from Grand Tour regulars is that flat sections are no good, as you’ll wait for hours only for the peloton (the group of riders) to pass you by in just a few seconds.

Instead, it’s recommended to aim for mountain stretches, ideally with mountaintop finishes, where you’ll get a much better view of the riders slowly climbing uphill; or to find a track where the cyclists pass over the same stretch of road more than once (this year’s ‘Napoli to Napoli’ Stage 8 on May 14th, for example, sees the cyclists do four laps of a circuit before retracing their route into Naples).

READ ALSO: Weekend wanderlust: Exploring Bologna’s hidden countryside by bike

Grand Tour regulars recommend heading for mountainous stretches to get the best views of the race.
Grand Tour regulars recommend heading for mountainous stretches to get the best views of the race. Photo: Luk Benies/AFP

Another tip is to go for a stage of the race that’s devoted to individual time trials, as you’ll see each cyclist go past one by one, spaced out by a few minutes each, over the course of several hours (the last stage of this year’s race, Stage 21 on May 29th in Verona, is an individual time trial).

To plan ahead, you’ll want to read summaries of each stage to get an idea of which one is best suited to your interests, and then familiarise yourself with the ‘Garibaldi‘, the Giro d’Italia’s official racebook, which has a detailed itinerary and will let you know exactly where and when each stage is scheduled to begin.

While you can (and most people do) see the Giro d’Italia for free, there’s also the option to go with a private tour company which does all the work of planning transportation and arranging your food and accommodation. These are expensive and highly likely to be already booked up for 2022, but if you have more money than time, you may want to consider this option for future years’ races.

If you don’t make it in person this year, there’s always live broadcasts and streams. While these might not be quite as atmospheric as attending in person, they have the advantage of providing viewers with a much clearer picture of the entirety of the race.

If you’re based in Italy, RaiSport will be broadcasting the event; or you can buy a subscription to streaming sites such as Eurosport or Discovery+.

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FOOD & DRINK

Sagra: The best Italian food festivals to visit in September

If you're visiting Italy in autumn, don't miss the many local food and drinks fairs held around the country. Here are some to visit this September.

Sagra: The best Italian food festivals to visit in September

One of the best things about visiting Italy in the autumn is having the opportunity to attend a sagra, a type of harvest festival or fair centred around one particular food or drink item local to the town hosting it.

sagra has a fairly broad definition: it could last for several weeks or one day, and might consist of anything from a raucous celebration with music and dancing to a lone food stall with a few wooden benches. It will usually be hosted in a field or a piazza, and entry is free.

READ ALSO: Seven reasons autumn is the best time to visit Italy

What all sagre have in common is the focus on eating and drinking fresh local produce, and the assurance that you won’t leave unsated.

While October is the month with the most sagre, by September there are already a good number taking place throughout the country that are worth seeking out if you’re in the area.

Here are just a few of the sagre happening across Italy this September.

Campania

Sagra della Rana (frog festival), 2nd-4th September in Marcianise.

Sagra del Cinghiale (wild boar festival), Fridays-Sundays until the end of October in Dugenta.

The 10th annual Festa del Fagiolo (bean festival), 9th-11th September in Volturara Irpina.

Emilia Romagna

Sagra del pinzino e dell’arrosticino (fried bread dough and meat skewers festival), 31st August-11th September in Ferrara.

Sagra del Tartufo (truffle festival), 31st August-12th September in Sant’Agostino, Ferrara.

The 55th annual Sagra dell’Uva e del Lambrusco Grasparossa (grapes and lambrusco wine festival), 11th-24th September in Castelvetro di Modena.

Sagra Provinciale dell’Uva (grapes and wine festival), 17th-18th September in Riolo Terme.

Sagra della Salamina da Sugo al Cucchiaio (pork salami festival), 22nd-25th and 29th-30th September in Madonna Boschi, Ferrara.

Photo by BORIS HORVAT / AFP

Lazio

Sagra della porchetta di Ariccia (spitted pork festival), 2nd-4th September in Ariccia.

Festa del Fungo Porcino (porcini mushroom festival), 8th-25th September in Lariano.

Sagra del Ciammellocco (ciammellocco biscuit festival), 10th-11th September in Cretone.

Sagra degli Gnocchi (gnocchi festival), 16th-18th September in Castelnuovo di Porto.

Lombardy

Sagra della Rana (frog festival), 2nd-4th September in Sartirana Lomellina, Pavia.

Sagra dei Crotti (natural cave cellars festival), 3rd-4th and 10th-11th September in Chiavenna, Sondrio.

Sagra del Risotto (risotto festival), 12th-15th September in Cergnago, Pavia.

Fungolandia (mushroom festival), 3rd-11th September in Valle Brembana.

Sicily

Sagra del Nocattolo (nocattolo almond biscuit festival), 4th September in Nicosia.

Sagra dell’Arancino (fried arancino rice ball festival) 8th-11th September in Ficarazzi.

Festa della Noce (walnut festival), 30th September-9th October in Motta Camastra.

Cous Cous Fest, September 16th-25th, San Vito Lo Capo.

Piedmont

Gusto di Meliga (sorghum festival), 18th September, Chiusa di San Michele.

Sagra del Pomodoro (tomato festival), 2nd-4th September, Cambiano.

Fiera Nazionale del Peperone (bell pepper festival), 2nd-11th September, Carmagnola.

Puglia

Sagra del Maiale (pig festival), 2nd-4th September, Villa Baldassarri, Lecce.

Sagra della Zampina del Bocconcino e del Buon Vino (zampinabocconcino and good wine festival), 30th September-2nd October, Sammichele di Bari.

Tuscany

Sagra della bistecca (steak festival), 1st-4th September in Badia al Pino, Arezzo.

Festa della mora (blackberry festival), 3rd-4th September in Vaglia.

The 50th annual Expo del Chianti Classico (Classic Chianti Expo), 8th-11th September in Chianti.

Settimana del Miele (‘honey week’), 9th-11th September in Montalcino.

The 57th annual Sagra del Cinghiale (wild boar festival), 7th-11th September in Capalbio.

Umbria

Primi d’Italia (national first courses festival), 29th September-2nd October in Foligno.

This list is not exhaustive. Did we miss out your favourite September sagra? Leave a comment below to let us know.

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