With his recent Tour de France victory, Italian Vincenzo Nibali became the first Italian to win the world’s most famous cycling race in 16 years.
It came just a few days after another important celebration for Italian cycling, the centenary of the birth of Gino Bartali.
Born in 1914 in the quaint Tuscan village of Ponte a Ema, part of the Bagno a Ripoli in the Tuscan countryside area just outside of Florence, Bartali became one of the greatest Italian champions in road cycling.
Among his many victories, Bartali won the Giro d’Italia in 1936, 1937 and 1946, spliced with winning the Tour de France in 1938 and 1948.
With his cycling career interrupted by World War II, he went to great efforts to help rescue Jewish people, immortalising Bartali as more than just a sporting champion but a true Italian hero.
At just 13 years of age, he started racing, turning professional at 21. His career took off as fast. So much so that just five years later when he married Adriana Bani, the ceremony was celebrated by Cardinal Della Costa, with Pope Pius XII giving the happy couple his blessing.
Known for being a fervent Catholic, he was eventually blessed by two other Popes throughout his career, with Pope John XXIII even asking Bartali to teach him to ride a bike!
Upon his death in 2000, condolences were sent by the Italian prime minister of the time, Giuliano Amato. Two days of mourning were called by the Italian National Olympic Committee, whilst silences were held prior to sporting events around Italy.
To celebrate 100 years since the birth of Gino Bartali, the town of Ponte a Ema held a great series of events. There was a bike race through the town, an exhibition of historical bicycles, motorbikes and cars. And then, a historical parade complete with music and flag throwing.
See if you can spot the two Artviva staff all dressed up in the parade!