Mantova • Campo Canoa
7-9 giugno 2024

Mantova • Campo Canoa
7-9 giugno 2024

GIULIA BARONCINI AND HER JOURNEY TO CHICAGO CHASING THE FOOTSTEPS OF LUIGI MASETTI, FATHER OF CYCLE TOURISM

giovedì, 25 Maggio, 2023

Giulia, a nomadic spirit with a travel blog left undone many years ago… Today she returns to tell us about her life on two feet and two wheels.
She will start from BAM!, 8 thousand KM to reach Chicago on the footsteps of historic figure Luigi Masetti, the father of bicycle touring.
Dreams, Adrenaline and Travel.. He tells us about it here

Hey Giulia!

Your project in 3 words.
Dreams, Adrenaline, Journey

Why these words? Tell us more.
– DREAMS because it’s been popping in my head for two years, so it’s really a dream come true! 2023 seemed like the year to me: unknowingly it coincides with 25 years of Eurovelo and 130 years since Masetti started. Then I am in the midst of a major life change. What can I say, I celebrate dreams?

– ADRENALIN I’ve lived so much abroad but still I’ve never been months away from home on a bike this long so I wonder what it will be. And this not knowing gives me adrenaline. Adrenaline is the engine of discovery, of curiosity, of opening up to the world.

– JOURNEY however with a capital J because it will be a journey in many facets: introspective journey, journey to discover countries I have not yet seen on a bike, journey to discover people, traditions and cultures. Then what about the United States, I have only been to NY once, the rest I know from the movies and from the stories of the American tourists I used to welcome in the Hotel when I worked in Venice.

A love for Luigi Masetti: How did you meet him and how did your idea of following in his footsteps begin?
It all started two years ago while I was reading the book “L’anarchico delle due ruote” by Luigi Rossi published by Ediciclo. I remember, as if it were yesterday, that day when I entered the bookstore in search of inspiration because I was going through an existential crisis and desperately needed to divert my mind. As soon as I stopped in front of the travel literature shelves, my attention was immediately drawn to the silver cover and title of this book. I was already imagining this swaggering gentleman riding his bike discovering worlds. And indeed, I wasn’t wrong. Come to think of it, it was not I who chose the book, but the book chose me, serving me on a silver platter a respectable character, the good Luigi Masetti who happened into my life (in)consciously precisely to guide me in my phase of “perdition” that I was going through. I really didn’t think I would find some existential answers in a book of nineteenth-century travel literature. But as we all know by now, life always brings us good surprises. I literally devoured all the chapters and, once I closed the book, I said to myself (and also promised) “I will follow in his footsteps, too!” because this gentleman awakened in me, part of my nature that I had long silenced. We both speak the same foreign languages, have worked in hotels, love to travel and bike adventures, we have the same bit of craziness. Besides, my grandparents are from Trecenta, a small town in Polesine, where he was born. Masetti is a respectable Polesine figure: genuine, simple and crazy! From the reportage stories he sent to Corriere della Sera of his adventures, his eager soul to see and discover, to make the world a school of life, to write and tell, shines through. He is a character who could get noticed in the 1800s, a sort of mass dragger, a real present-day influencer. Great explorer and poet, who could not be dazzled by him! For two years the idea of reviving him never left me, and so at the beginning of 2023 I began to concretize it, I felt the time had come. And so that existential crisis began to become fuel to start a new life.

So what will the stages be?
The “unofficial” departure from Trecenta, a small town in Polesine where he was born and where my grandparents and my dad were born (the coincidence!). First stop is BAM! I could not miss the event of cyclo-travelers and to load myself with the strength to face these 8000km. I will go to Milan to search for his footsteps (where he lived, where he is buried, where he left for his Viaggissimo). Milan will then be the “official” departure. From there I will ride on a Eurovelo weave that will take me to Switzerland, France, Germany, Belgium, London. From London unfortunately the boat to the States no longer exists so I will use the symbol of modernity (I wish it was just the bike), the plane. I will fly to NY to reach Chicago via the cities of Albany, pit-stops at Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Lake Erie. To return to NY I will instead go through Indianapolis, Columbia, Pittsburg, Washington, Philadelphia.
In other words, a mega-loop of about 4,000km. Once in London it will be all to see! Having no more constraints of air transportation…I will still launch myself in his footsteps but with some modifications. Only the Paris stage is certain at the moment. I like not knowing when I am coming back. The route in general is very faithful to the original with some modifications and partial readjustments.

What are your expectations?
That it’s going to be cool.

What would you like to find at the end of this journey?
More than what I would like to find, I would say what I would like to achieve. I don’t know why but I believe that through traveling I can express myself well or at least, manifest my thoughts and values. I would like to make people dream and take them with me on the journey even if it is virtually. The world is beautiful and there is so much to learn, it is a school of life. I would like to inspire or spur in some way to get out of the patterns that society imposes and set as our only goal happiness and personal fulfillment.

Your first time on a bicycle?
The very first one, you know when they take your training wheels off, I remember it like it was yesterday on my pink and purple bike with the white basket, however, I don’t remember exactly how old I was. I just remember the applause from my grandfather. First time riding a bike as a means of exploring the world in 2019. Thanks to a former work colleague who is a bike enthusiast. He suggested we do weekends in “Bikerafting for 0 km adventures” mode. So we started exploring Piave, Brenta, Sile paddling and pedaling on a 16-inch bike. I didn’t even feel like I was in the Veneto! Then he changes jobs, we lose touch, and out of all this I keep the bike. My solo (and non-solo) explorations begin.
That’s it, from there I never stopped.