Posts contrassegnato dai tag ‘cycling’

from Thewashingmachinepost

torino to venice: vento

Islay being historically and presently a farming community, the island is peppered with old drove roads, devised to allow farmers to move their herds and flocks easily across country as well as taking them to market. while many of these routes are now overgrown as their need has receded to the point of extinction over the past decades, it’s still possible to find beginnings, ends and middles if you look closely enough, and there are still several farmers and retired farmers able to describe in detail what use was made of these makeshift but well trammeled roads.

torino to venice: vento

And as the house at gartbreck, about two miles out of bowmore is granted planning permission to become islay’s ninth malt whisky distillery, someone in the office piped up during the week with the recollection that there used to be a small ferry boat that sailed between gartbreck and port charlotte on the other side of the loch. motorised transport and an almost reasonable road surface have effectively made such a sea route redundant, though i cannot deny it would be a delightful route to reach bruichladdich for a coffee in the summer months. I’m simply not a good enough sailor to attempt anything of the sort at this time of year.
Though one or two of these ancient passages could conceivably make for interesting and diversionary walking and cycling routes even today, it’s highly doubtful that resurrecting any of them would bring a greater number of tourists to the isle. the distilleries we currently have, coupled with road equivalent tariff on the ferries mean that islay’s tourism is all but currently saturated. this rock in the atlantic is not over-endowed with road miles in the first place, so any distance savings would be minimal at best, and you can see most of which you wish via the current transport infrastructure.

torino to venice: vento

There are, however, countries further afield with historical routes that still exist, even though modernity and the encroachment of the motor car have relegated them almost to obscurity.
The river po stretches from the western coast of italy all the way from torino, across country to venice in the adriatic on italy’s east coast. this wide and once busy waterway was often substituted for the sea by various communities that sit along its banks. they undertook the same pastimes on its beach as those on the adriatic coast. five designers from the polytechnic in milan, a city that lies within easy access of the river about a third of the way from torino en route to venice, decided to pedal the 670+ kilometres intending to demonstrate the feasibility of creating the longest bike path in italy.

torino to venice: vento

Aside from undertaking the distance over a period of eight days, they came across many obstacles to easy pedalling principally the result of regional engineers not having taken the bicycle into consideration at all. barriers that meant having to dip under with fully loaded tourers and bridges up and across which bikes and luggage had to be manhandled did little to ease their journey. however, their route took them through towns and villages displaying some exquisite examples of italian architecture and tourist attractions, many of which lie all but unknown and through countryside that has changed dramatically over the last half-century.

torino to venice: vento

The man in charge of the expedition and a single-minded individual who is passionate about opening up the route is paolo pileri. a strong rider towing a bob trailer behind his mountain bike, his is the voice most often heard at public meetings staged along the way to point out to members of the communities just how lucrative the opening of this route could be to their towns. and in the opening sequence of the film vento, he points out that this could all be achieved for the same cost as two kilometres of motorway.
This documentary, lasting 50 minutes was filmed by paolo casalis, pino pace and stefano scarafia, following the five designers as they wend their way along the banks of the po eventually destined for the historical city of venice. not only have they made a quite superb film, but the equivalent of an italian tourist board invite to see some of italy’s hidden treasures along the way. the po has to be traversed by boat on three occasions along the way, leading to some intriguing alternative views other than the aspects offered by pedalling. the producers have strategically inserted some fabulous historical footage of how important the river once was to those who lived along its banks.

torino to venice: vento

Those who may wish to view the impassioned perspicacity of paolo pileri and his colleagues can now access the film either by download, online streaming, or purchase as a dvd. though naturally the narrative is in italian, there is also a version with english subtitles. for those who are perhaps more adventurous and would consider undertaking at least part of the same route for themselves, the footage is invaluable, and even at its very least it’s a highly entertaining and educational 50 minutes.

torino to venice: vento

You can watch the trailer here and if you like what you see, this is also the place to order a copy in the format of your choice. most of us view italy as something of a pilgrimage to which it is necessary to acquiesce at least once in a lifetime. those ideals, however, mostly inhabit the sporting life; this proves that there are aspects of italian cycling life that more readily parallel our own attempts to have those in power pay more attention to the benefits of commuting and cycle-tourism.
As two german tourists admit to pileri en-route, they have met around five cyclists per day on their travels along the banks of the po, whereas they would more regularly meet hundreds if not thousands on a comparable cycle route in germany.
This is a unique film that deserves all the attention you can give it.

monday 10 february 2014

English version is finally out!
Stream the film here:

Buy dvd here:


Culture and tourism minister praises project that would tie in with Milan Expo and link Venice and Turin along the Po river
People cycling along the banks of the Po river in northern Italy. Photograph: Realy Easy Star/Toni Spagone/AlamyPeople cycling on the banks of the Po river in northern Italy

It would take you from the stately squares of Turin to the waterways of Venice; from the shadow of the Alps to the open skies of the Po delta, with the palaces of Ferrara and violins of Cremona just waiting to be admired en route. A plentiful supply of pasta, polenta and pork would help your stamina but you might consider an extra pannier for the bottles of Barolo.
For the past three-and-a-half years, activists in Italy have been lobbying for the construction of a 422 mile (679km) cycle path, known as VenTo, that would link the major cities of the north as well as a host of lesser-known treasures along the banks of the river Po. Now, as the eurozone’s third largest economy starts to see faint signs of recovery from its longest postwar recession, hopes are growing that the project’s time may just have come.
Last week, after meeting with VenTo’s proponents, the culture and tourism minister, Massimo Bray, lavished praise on the idea, saying it was an important initiative that could be an example of sustainable development for the rest of Italy and would ideally tie in with the Universal Exposition due to be held in Milan in 2015.
Paolo Pileri, spokesman for VenTo, said he was hopeful that under this, the third Italian government since its inception at the end of 2009, the project might not be falling on deaf ears. “The government is starting to say: this is interesting,” he said. Pileri, a professor of urban and environmental development planning at the Politecnico university in Milan, added: “This cycle path is like the chain of a necklace … Turin is the first pearl, Valenza the second pearl; there are so many pearls – but at the moment we’re just missing the chain.”
Pileri and his colleagues estimate the cost of VenTo’s construction at €80m. But, they say, that would be rapidly offset by the tourism-related income the path would generate throughout northern Italy – a figure they put at about €100m a year. The project, they say, would create 2,000 jobs in hospitality and other related sectors.


“[We want] to show the country that out of the landscape, cultural heritage and ‘healthy’ tourism can come a significant response to the crisis, which should not be sniffed at,” said Pileri, who wants the state to see investment in sustainable projects like VenTo as a new and improved model of economic development.
Like many cyclists here, both tourists and locals, he also just wants to be able to enjoy two-wheel travel rather more than is currently possible. Italy is famous for being one of the most car-dependent countries in the world and has lagged behind on the provision of the kind of long and continuous bike paths seen in some other European countries such as Germany.
But, with the recession, the country that gave the world Fausto Coppi and the neorealist masterpiece Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di Biciclette) has been rediscovering its past pleasures, with 2012 sales of bikes up 200,000 on the year before. Activists believe there is now an urgent need to create a national network of workable paths.
“While there’s no shortage of Italians who cycle around Italy, many are put off by aggressive drivers and high traffic levels, so not as much cycling takes place as it could do if conditions were made friendlier for lovers of two-wheel transport,” wrote Alex Roe, a Milan-based blogger, who said it would be a great shame if VenTo were not built.
If it did get the funding from state and regional authorities, Pileri says VenTo would be the longest continuous cycle path not only in Italy but also in southern Europe as a whole. According to the plans, it would have two lanes and be 2.5m wide – modest measurements that have not, however, prevented it being dubbed a cycle motorway.
The comparison is not altogether unfounded. Pileri said the route envisaged would draw inspiration from paths already in existence abroad that “have a design kind of like motorways – very linear, few curves, few slopes, because our idea is precisely to import into Italy a model of infrastructure that can be used by everyone – not just the very fit but also children, the elderly, everyone,” he said.

Merry Xmas!

Pubblicato: dicembre 21, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Merry Xmas!

Shenyang, China


Coming soon? More funds for the French cycle route network – Photo (c) DRC

In a response to a parliamentary question by socialist deputy Philippe Plisson, the French transport ministry has recently confirmed that the national government plans to co-finance regional cycling plans from 2014-2020. It looks like the European campaign by ECF member DRC, started earlier this year, is now bearing fruit.

The ministry’s answer to the question states that the government would be using the system of so-called “Contrats de projets Etat-Régions” (CPER, partnership contracts between the central state and the 22 French regions) to fund regional cycle tourism infrastructure and greenways.

“This is encouraging news,” says Agathe Daudibon, officer for European projects and communication at French ECF member Départements et Régions Cyclables (DRC). “However the plans for the new CPER do not yet explicitly include cycling routes. We have sent a letter to Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Prime Minister, in order to make sure he does not overlook what the transport minister is proposing – that cycling facilities will actually be included in this funding scheme.”

European money waiting to be spent – on cycling routes

Find out more on how to get funds for cycling from the EU on the pages of the €6billion campaign.

What’s more, the transport ministry also states in its response that it plans to include cycling into its Partnership Agreement with the European Commission in order to get regional cycling routes funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). 

Once again, Agathe Daudibon says more lobbying is needed to make this a reality. “Now that the EU budget is about to be wrapped up, the negotiations about what to actually use European funding for on the national level have only just started,” she says. “But the transport ministry says it wants to use some of the European money from the regional funds to finance greenways and cycle tourism. That is very good news.”

A successful campaign

That the French transport ministry is suddenly showing so much interest in cycling seems to be a direct effect of the European campaign DRC led earlier this year. The cycling advocates sent letters to each French region, explaining the challenges and opportunities to get European funding for cycle tourism routes and greenways. They also launched an awareness campaign called “Des €uros pour le vélo” (€uros for cycling) including a conference and workshop.
The campaign was supported by Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for the Internal Market and founding president of the DRC. It is no surprise that  in his question to the government, Philippe Plisson included the argument that EuroVelo would be mentioned in the TEN-T guidelines for the first time.
If the Prime Minister and Transport Minister stick to their words, DRC will have shown once more that cycling advocacy, done right, can achieve a lot.

– See more at:

Vento. l’Italia in bicicletta lungo il fiume Po / FILM TRAILER from Vimeo.

Clicca sull’immagine sopra (o qui) per vedere il trailer del film, clicca nella colonnna di  sinistra di questa pagina ( o qui) per guardare tutto il film in streaming o in formato dvd!
Click on the image above (or here) to watch the film’s trailer  (english subtitled version also available for both dvd and streaming options!)


Pubblicato: novembre 15, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Stiamo arrivando… Lunedì 18 online il trailer del film!

(e intanto se volete prenotare la vs. copia e dare un’ultima spinta al progetto… date un’occhiata alla colonna di sinistra del blog)