‘Every bike trip has something special’

Interview with writer and cyclotourist Emilio Rigatti who tells about his passion for the bicycle and describes the peculiarities of the Collio region. The main Italian event of the European project My Sport is Franja is the bike tour La Mia Bici, La Mia Cultura, Il Mio Collio. Rigatti will be at the tour and on the eve of the tour he will be a guest at the discussion about cycling.

When and how did your passion for bike tourism start?

,,I made my first trip by bike when I was 13 years old and rode from Padua to Fiumcello, around 150 kilometres. It was the reward for going to the next class. I really got a taste for bike travelling when I went to Colombia where I stayed for a several years. Finally the big trip Trieste-Istanbul convinced me that the bike is the best way to travel.’’

You who have traveled a lot and visited several places can you tell us in what Collio differs from other places? In other words what are its peculiarities?
,,Collio has its own unique and peculiar beauty, so I would not compare it to either Tuscany or Langhe. It’s Collio, that’s enough. In addition to the beauty of the places, I like the feeling of being immersed in a border area, almost between two worlds, the Latin one and the Slavic one. This gives it a special charm. Wines of excellence and breathtaking views are the icing on the cake.’’

What trip you remember most with pleasure and why?
,,I do not have one in particular, every trip has something special. In addition to Trieste-Istanbul, I remember with special emotion two months spent in inner Turkey, returning along the Black Sea. But also Sardinia, about which I wrote a book, fascinated me a lot. Landscapes and history, exceptional men, sense of freedom, African warmth: they are the ingredients of the island that fascinated me.’’

Turn the pedals and write with the pen (now the keyboard). Two seemingly opposing activities. Are there any points in common?
,,Writing is re-traveling the journey, giving it a stable shape, condense it with your thoughts; those you’ve been pedaling and those who are born re-reading the travel diary, watching the photos, remembering the special moments. Traveling and writing are two different ways of traveling.’’

How do you combine the passion of teaching with that of travel?
,,I teach Italian, history and geography at the high school in Ruda. The bike is like an extra book, or rather, the code of interpretation of that great book that is the world we live in. Along with a team of colleagues we have adopted this “metal textbook” and we bring our kids to explore history, geography, landscape and even emotions.’’

You work every day with new generations. In a world dominated by video games and social networks, how is the bicycle nowadays perceived?
,,If you turn it into a travel and exploration tool, the kids are excited. For them it is the adventure they have never had, and that the majority of parents do not give them. They take them to malls, they buy their smartphone, and if they make a trip, it’s usually a “package” bought in an agency.’’

Can you give three reasons for cycling and three reasons to visit Collio?
,,For the first I have no doubt: health in all senses, adventure, knowledge. For Collio three keywords: borderland, wine, cycling beauty. I look forward to the climbs of Collio.

Daniele Tomat