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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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MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

Here are the remote Italian villages worth seeking out in 2022, according to a list compiled by one of the country's leading tourism associations.

MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

A total of 270 villages across Italy have been recognised as being especially tourist-friendly this year by the Italian Touring Club (Touring Club Italiano), one of the country’s largest non-profit associations dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism throughout the territory.

‘Orange Flag’ status is awarded if a village is judged to have significant historic, cultural and environmental value, as well as for being welcoming to visitors and outsiders, according to the initiative’s website.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

Villages can apply for the status if they are located inland with no coastal stretches; have fewer than 15,000 inhabitants; have a well-preserved historic centre and a strong sense of cultural identity; demonstrate sensitivity to issues of sustainability; have a well-organised tourist reception system; and show an intention to continue to make improvements to the town.

The list is updated annually, and in 2022 three new villages gained orange flag status for the first time: Dozza in Emilia Romagna, Manciano in Tuscany, and Sasso di Castalda in Basilicata.

See below for the map and a list of the Orange Flag villages according to region:

Montepulciano in Tuscany has 'orange flag' status.

Montepulciano in Tuscany has ‘orange flag’ status. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.

Abruzzo – 7 villages

Civitella Alfadena, Fara San Martino, Lama dei Peligni, Opi, Palena, Roccascalegna, Scanno.

Basilicata – 6 villages

Aliano, Castelmezzano, Perticara Guard, San Severino Lucano, Sasso di Castalda, Valsinni.

Calabria – 6 villages

Bova, Civita, Gerace, Morano Calabro, Oriolo, Tavern.

Campania – 5 villages

Cerreto Sannita, Letino, Morigerati, Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Zungoli.

READ MORE: Six Italian walking holiday destinations that are perfect for spring

Emilia Romagna – 23 villages

Bagno di Romagna, Bobbio, Brisighella, Busseto, Castell’Arquato, Castelvetro di Modena, Castrocaro Terme and Terra del Sole, Dozza, Fanano, Fiumalbo, Fontanellato, Longiano, Montefiore Conca, Monteleone, Pennabilli, Pieve di Cento, Portico and San Benedetto, Premilcuore, San Leo, Sarsina, Sestola, Verucchio, Vigoleno.

Friuli Venezia Giulia – 7 villages

Andreis, Barcis, Cividale del Friuli, Frisanco, Maniago, San Vito al Tagliamento, Sappada.

Lazio – 20 villages

Arpino, Bassiano, Bolsena, Bomarzo, Calcata, Campodimele, Caprarola, Casperia, Collepardo, Fossanova, Labro, Leonessa, Nemi, San Donato Val di Comino, Sermoneta, Subiaco, Sutri, Trevignano Romano, Tuscania, Vitorchiano.

Liguria – 17 villages

Airole, Apricale, Balducco, Brugnato, Castelnuovo Magra, Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena, Dolceacqua, Perinaldo, Pigna, Pinion, Santo Stefano d’Aveto, Sassello, Seborga, Toirano, Triora, Vallebona, Varese Ligure.

Lombardy – 16 villages

Almenno San Bartolomeo, Bellano, Bienno, Castellaro Lagusello, Chiavenna, Clusone, Gardone Riviera, Gromo, Menaggio, Pizzighettone, Ponti sul Mincio, Sabbioneta, Sarnico, Solferino, Tignale, Torno.

Marche – 24 villages

Acquaviva Picena, Amandola, Camerino, Cantiano, Cingoli, Corinaldo, Frontino, Genga, Gradara, Mercatello sul Metauro, Mondavio, Montecassiano, Montelupone, Monterubbiano, Offagna, Ostra , Ripatransone, San Ginesio, Sarnano, Serra San Quirico, Staffolo, Urbisaglia, Valfornace, Visso.

Molise – 5 villages

Agnone, Ferrazzano, Frosolone, Roccamandolfi, Scapoli.

READ MORE: These are the 20 prettiest villages across Italy

San Gimignano has long been an orange flag destination.

San Gimignano has long been an orange flag destination. Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP.

Piedmont – 40 villages 

Agliè, Alagna Valsesia, Arona, Avigliana, Barolo, Bene Vagienna, Bergolo, Candelo, Canelli, Cannero Riviera, Cannobio, Castagnole delle Lanze, Cherasco, Chiusa di Pesio, Cocconato, Entracque, Fenestrelle, Fobello, Gavi, Grinzane Cavour, Guarene, La Morra, Limone Piemonte, Macugnaga, Malesco, Mergozzo, Moncalvo, Monforte d’Alba, Neive, Orta San Giulio, Ozzano Monferrato, Revello, Rosignano Monferrato, Santa Maria Maggiore, Susa, Trisobbio, Usseaux, Usseglio, Varallo, Vogogna.

Puglia – 13 villages

Alberona, Biccari, Bovino, Cisternino, Corigliano d’Otranto, Locorotondo, Oria, Orsara di Puglia, Pietramontecorvino, Rocchetta Sant’Antonio, Sant’Agata di Puglia, Specchia, Troia.

Sardinia – 7 villages

Aggius, Galtellì, Gavoi, Laconi, Oliena, Sardara, Tempio Pausania.

Sicily – 1 village

Petralia Sottana

Tuscany – 40 villages

Abetone Cutigliano, Anghiari, Barberino Tavarnelle, Barga, Casale Marittimo, Casciana Terme Lari, Casale d’Elsa, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina, Castiglion Fiorentino, Certaldo, Cetona, Chiusi, Collodi, Fosdinovo, Lucignano, Manciano, Massa Marittima, Montalcino, Montecarlo, Montefollonico, Montepulciano, Monteriggioni, Murlo, Peccioli, Pienza, Pitigliano, Pomarance, Radda in Chianti, Radicofani, San Casciano dei Bagni, San Gimignano, Santa Fiora, Sarteano, Sorano, Suvereto, Trequanda, Vicopisano, Vinci, Volterra. 

Trentino Alto Adige – 8 villages

Ala, Caderzone Terme, Campo Tures/Sand in Taufers, Ledro, Levico Terme, Molveno, Tenno, Vipiteno/Sterzing.

Umbria – 10 villages

Bevagna, Città della Pieve, Montefalco, Montone, Nocera Umbra, Norcia, Panicale, Spello, Trevi, Vallo di Nera.

Val d’Aosta – 3 villages

Etroubles, Gressoney-Saint-Jean, Introd.

Veneto – 12 villages

Arquà Petrarca, Asolo, Borgo Valbelluna, Cison di Valmarino, Follina, Malcesine, Marostica, Montagnana, Portobuffolè, Rocca Pietore, Soave, Valeggio sul Mincio.

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